This is not even close to the best example of why it sucks, or the worst experience I’ve had with it (I’m thinking of you, Bioshock 2), but it’s fresh in my mind so I’m going to share it.
I wanted to try the new free-to-play RTS Age of Empires Online. I had been following a ‘No more games that use Games for Windows Live’ policy ever since a set of really awful experiences with Bioshock 2 a year or so ago, but a free game from a studio whose games I’ve really enjoyed in the past convinced me to give GFWL another chance.
I downloaded and installed the game, but when I tried to login to GFWL, which I have to do in order to play, it wouldn’t let me. Tried on the GFWL website and was informed someone has been trying to login to my account with the wrong password so many times my password is invalid.
I reset password, a reasonably straightforward process, hurrah! I am pleasantly surprised.
Try again to login. I’m informed I must provide product key and am unable to login. wth? It’s a free game, and anyway, why should that block me from logging in? Confusion.
Examine email looking for product key. Find none
Examine spam folder looking for email with product key. Find none. Grossed out by contents of spam folder.
Examine Age of Empire Online FAQ and message boards looking for someone with the same problem. Find nothing.
Google this problem. Find nothing.
GFWL lets you specify a backup email address. Look there and in that account’s spam folder for an email with a product key. Find nothing. More hot spam folder grossout action.
Ponder. Wth? With these things you can always find someone with a similar problem via google, and eventually arrive at a solution. I can’t so…what does that mean? It’s unique to me? Seems inconceivable? What out of all the parameters in play would be unique to me? My password. I check. I’ve made a typo. Try to login using the correct password. Eureka! I’m in.
Why the FUCK did GFWL send me off on a 30 minute goose chase looking for a product key when its issue was I had an invalid password?
Because it’s Game For Windows Live, a product seemingly designed to put anyone who tries it off of gaming on windows.
Age of Empires Online is ok – it’s definitely worth a look if you’re into RTS. Pluses include fantastic art direction and a ton of content. Cons are incredibly bad unit pathing issues and a brain dead AI. Message me if you’re playing and want to connect. Meantime, I’m back on my ‘will not buy products which require the use of GFWL’ policy. Developers and publishers, please: spare your customers the agony of this entirely shitty product. There’s no money hat large enough to make this worth the bad mouthing your product will get. Look into steamworks or anything, anything at all*, besides GFWL. It’s shit.
*(Except the stuff Ubisoft is doing, and, err, EA’s Origin stuff…jesus. Software publishing is going to the dogs! Just fucking use Steamworks, they appear to be the only company that recognizes customer experience should be primary).