MS GFWL is still an abomination.


I went through another ordeal merely trying to buy something from Microsoft Games for Windows Live last night. The latest DLC for Fallout 3 (Point Lookout) was out and I went to the GLWL site to get it for the PC. I had 100 game points leftover under their wretched system of making me buy points instead of simply buying the content. I went to order another 1,000 points to be able to get the 800 I needed to buy the DLC. I went through the transaction, went back and tried to order the game — and got an error telling me to try again later. My credits then showed up as a mere 300 points. So, I went back and ordered ANOTHER 1,000 points (should have just done 500, but it was late and I was drinking cold beer). I now showed 1,300 points and I tried again to download the DLC. No go, of course!

I then discovered that there is NO PLACE ON THEIR SITE I could locate to tell them you have a problem with your order. I finally found a users forum which told me that others had also had games refuse to download. Some fixed it with some process for clearing their records (which wasn’t detailed). Others were able to do it after logging in again later.

I tried to find any sort of “support” address to be able to contact to tell Microsoft that they had apparently taken my money and not delivered my product. I was routed on their website to long lists of support portals, but none of them covered Games for Windows Live transactions. I finally ended up sending a note to threw the “Privacy” contact form with a request that they route it to the GFWL folks.

I finally just waited some more and logged in again. This time my content agreed to download. I still had to go through a silly manual cut-and-paste of various games files to get the new content to work with STEAM, which houses my Fallout 3 games files.

I just tried to log into MS GFWL to see how many game points show up in my account and am getting an error.

I hope Bethesda Softworks is realizing that MS GFWL is a dud as a means of distributing their add-on content. Please, please, please go to the more reliable and infinitely more user-friendly STEAM platform for PC DLCs. STEAM does so much right that it makes GFWL looks embarrassing in contrast. Hey MS, just copy STEAM!

Next I really STRONGLY urge Microsoft to put a a prominently located place on the GFWL website to report problems with transactions. It is simply unacceptable to make customers have to play Internet detective to try (in vain) to locate a means to inform you that we may have not gotten our content.

While we are at it, I also want a way to just buy the items I want ala carte and to not be forced to buy “points” in quantities that mean I end up with unused points sitting in an account for months at a time. This amounts to your customers being forced to make MS GFWL a no-interest loan of our money. This is great for MS, but not right by the customers. I am going to try to seek a refund of the points I overpaid and wonder what nightmares await me as I try to discern the process for getting my loot back.

The irony is that I buy all my games and have no tolerance for piracy. Yet, when I Googled the new DLC, the search returned several pirateware sites where I have no doubts I could have gotten the same content with far less hassle than buying it via MS GFWL.  If the gaming industry wants to see less piracy, please consider making the purchase of your content approach the same level of user-friendliness as stealing it.

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