Game update notifications coming to Games Explorer

Here’s something for the heavy PC gamers among us. It’s true, digital distribution stores like Steam and EA Store has taken some of the guesswork out of managing game updates, but there’s still a lot of PC games out there where you don’t realize it’s out-of-date until you discover you’re 5 patches behind. Wouldn’t it be cool if Windows notified you of game patches like it does with system updates? Windows 7 might just do that.

A presentation about Windows Game Development at Microsoft’s annual game technology conference, Gamefest 2008, revealed plans that a games update notification system will be integrated into the “Games Explorer” feature of Windows.

Besides the details in the slide above, from what I can gather in the audio recording the feature will only notify users of game updates and point them to a URL defined by the publisher. It will not automatically download or install them like Windows Updates. There was also a prototype of the interface demoed during the presentation but video recordings are not available.

Personally as a pretty heavy PC gamer, I think this is a necessary and perhaps overdue feature in the operating system. Windows is already a really powerful gaming platform and the Vista “Games Explorer” was a step in the right direction.

13 insightful thoughts

  1. Definitely welcome but they will have to get developers actually implementing it and most don’t care about the PC any more & are not willing to spend the time implementing such frivolities.

    Same thing happened with the Vista tray & play feature, loading saves from games explorer, DX10 support etc.

    If MS wants to get PC gamers on their side they will need to be much more pushy with devs adopting these features and not letting them just hitting the compile for windows button and leaving it at that.

  2. I really don’t see how this kind of feature is needed, don’t games already do this on their own without Windows’ help? Personally I’ve never, ever, had a problem with the way game developers deliver game updates.

  3. Things such as Steam can work side by side with Games for Windows however, especially since it is free to do Live now.

    Games like Half-Life 2 can implement achievements right now with a little work from the publisher. I think it is only a matter of time before it happens, but that matter of time can shorten if MS starts paying out to some key developers, like Blizzard and Valve.

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  5. Games Explorer was a very -small- step in the right direction though. How many people actually use it? I can imagine it being useful if you want to restrict your kids from playing certain games, but for the rest of us… why would I want to launch games explorer and -then- launch Hold ‘Em, rather than just launching Hold ‘Em directly from the start menu?

    Now, if Games Explorer became a sort of content delivery mechanism, like Steam, where you can purchase and download games digitally, or enter a code on your store-bought game and have it delivered to you digitally in case you break the DVD, or keeps games up to date automatically, -exactly like what Steam has been doing for years-, THEN it’d be a useful feature.

    But seeing how Windows 7’s game explorer will apparently only notify you of a download URL.. Yay, an RSS reader for patches. Sorry guys, you’re far behind the pack. Again.

    With so many talented people and so many resources at Microsoft, why is it that they keep lagging behind so horribly with this sort of thing?

  6. Games Explorer is good. Steam is better. If they could merge then it should be awesome!
    BTW Why can’t MS make a “Program Files” explorer as well?

  7. It seems everyone else is thinking what I was thinking – Windows should handle updates for ALL programs (and drivers obviously). No need for 10000000 different packages checking for their own updates.

  8. if its anything like most windows designed software I’m sure it will just be another pile of shit to disable and not bother with.. I’m hoping game developers just ignore it.. HEAVY Gamers as you put it are going to know when there game needs updating, and grabbing a full patch or version patch as a standalone file that can be kept for later use on another reinstall is much better than steaming pile of shit that is steam, where you just have to get the FUCKING PATCH before you can even play the game even the single player, and I am in no doubt as the way microsoft will want to make this shit feature work in the future, even if it does start out with lame rss feed popup probably opening it there shity ie8 browser, afteral just about everything that comes out of MS these days is pretty lame, always another developer or studio that could have done it better or do!

    also people who find there game outta of date to play obviously weren’t that interested in the game or the game was just shit to even bother keeping upto date on patches.. do i really want to be constantly bothered about when my games all need patching.. no because the ones i’m interested in are only the ones I play online where keeping the latest patch is req in order to play online anyway.. or the singleplayer is so buggy as shit that i’ll probably look out of a patch myself.. course then with the way of the DRM inconvience is screwing with legit owners ie laugh at Spore…perhaps most just won’t want to bother with lame shity noob patches and just stick with the last best working crack. So really MS better fucking add some decent control/customizing options to this games explorer.. but once again this MS, and doing that sort of that just doesn’t comprehend.

  9. I know this is old now but @Frank: Games can actually be added to the start menu as a … menu… which brings up the list of games ala All Programs in previous versions of Windows. This actually makes games more accessible than Vistas All Programs menu.

  10. I find games explorer pretty usefull. I am the kind of guy that never likes to have a mess in his desktop. so the only two icons in my desktop are internet explorer and games explorer.

    In my machine at the moment I have installed, Call of Duty 4, Call of Duty World at war, Crysis, Crysis Warhead, Crysis Wars, Battlefield 2, Battlefield 2142, World of warcraft and shaiya.

    Call of duty, (both of them) and Crysis warhead and crysis wars are installed through steam, Battlefield 2, battlefield 2142 and Crysis are installed through the EA downloader, Shaiya is a standalone install and Warcraft is a standalone install as well. I have icons for all these games in games explorer. I click on games explorer and the window opens with all the games currently installed in my computer. if I want to play COD, I just click it and it automaticaly launches steam and then launches the game. if I want to launch Battlefield, it will automaticaly launch the EA downloader, then launch the game. Its quite simple really. the only annoying thing could be having to close those programs after you finish playing the game but you would have to do that anyway.

    You also get info like system requirements and rating with some games in the games explorer. The best part is that I own a microsoft sidewinder mouse (I recomend it highly for gamers with big hands like me) and that mouse has a button in the body of the mouse that launches games explorer. (kind of sucks because that button isnt configurable, it HAS to launch games explorer) It works for me because when I want to play anything I just click that button in my mouse and then launch the game. it really makes life easy, I dont have a mess of icons all over the place and I dont have to launch EA downloader or steam or whatever before launching a game.

    People who say things like these are useless remind me of people who say the vista search option is useless or the vista sidebar is useless… its useless only because you dont know how to use it properly. hitting the start button of my keyboard and instantly starting to type whatever I need, weather it’s a website or a file in my computer or a google search, is the best thing that happened to me in a while. I used to use google search in XP, this pretty much replaced it. I also have the vista sidebar configured to launch with the middle mouse button and I instantly get weather, time, notes, XM radio, etc…

    These are all good features, its just that people now a days are used to having everything spoonfed to them for them to actualy show interest (Apple, anyone?)

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