While Apple is planning to launch a general applications store for OS X, Microsoft is looking to play around a bit, first. Coming next month is the new Games for Windows Marketplace, a browser-based market for PC games that might just give Steam a run for its money.
Part of the new launch includes dropping a requirement for would-be gamers to download an extra client (like Steam), through which they could then download the games. The new system allows everything, from sale to transaction, to take place entirely within the user’s web browser.
While Microsoft is planning on selling both indie and big name titles within the stores, similar to some of its competitors, creating a store alone likely won’t be enough to win marketshare.
As some critics have pointed out, prices on Microsoft’s Games for Windows platform are often beaten – sometimes substantially – by options like Steam, who is famous for their major sales. A plain version of Fallout 3, for example, retails for $50 at the GFW Marketplace. That same fifty bucks gets games the Fallout 3 Game of the Year edition at Steam.
Microsoft’s biggest strength in gaming at the moment may not even be the PC. Its Xbox 360 gaming system managed to outsell both Sony and Nintendo earlier in this summer and while many games are out for both platforms, bridging the gulf between them has never quite been done.
The Redmond-based computer giant vows to change that, however, taking advantage of that massive pre-existing community and using it to help build out the platform. If it works, it could raise Microsoft to a premiere place in digital download services. If it fails, well, they can probably afford to try again.