The Games for Windows LIVE Facebook page reports that the PC gaming-based Marketplace on Xbox.com will be shut down on August 22 as part of retiring Microsoft Points. At that time, customers will no longer be able to purchase PC games, but will still be able to access their previous purchases and content through the Games for Windows LIVE client as usual. Microsoft is now encouraging PC gamers to spend their Microsoft Points before that date.
According to a FAQ regarding the closing, Microsoft is also turning off the purchase functionality within the downloadable client as of August 22. Furthermore, the company states that it will no longer sell Games for Windows LIVE titles published by Microsoft from any marketplace. For other titles, Microsoft directs gamers to the third-party publishers. In-game purchases and other downloadable content purchase availability will vary based on the particular game, the company states.
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"Microsoft Points will be retired as part of the next Xbox 360 system update," the company states. "The next time you initiate a purchase or redeem a Microsoft Points card or code on your console with your Microsoft account, we’ll add an amount of currency equal to or greater than the Marketplace value of your Microsoft Points to your account. You can then use the currency in your Microsoft account to buy a variety of Xbox content from your favorite Xbox stores, and if you have a Windows Phone 8 device, content from the Windows Phone Store."
Microsoft merged Xbox.com and the Games for Windows LIVE Marketplace website back in July 2011 so that Microsoft customers could purchase their console and desktop games in one place. Unfortunately, the website is console-focused, catering mostly to the upcoming Xbox One, Xbox 360 and Xbox Live Gold members. The PC gaming aspect is tucked away under the "Games" section, and plays host to around 198 games, add-ons, videos and demos.
News of the Games for Windows LIVE Marketplace closing arrives after former Steam director of business development Jason Holtman confirmed that he is now working at Microsoft to focus on making Windows a great platform for gaming and interactive entertainment. "I think there is a lot of opportunity for Microsoft to deliver the games and entertainment customers want and to work with developers to make that happen, so I'm excited to be here," he said.
Holtman was part of a massive layoff that included Jeri Ellsworth and 24 other Valve employees. The company didn't make any explanations about the staff reduction, but the surrounding speculation was enough to pull Gabe Newell out of silence. Now there's speculation – perhaps backed by a lot of hope – that Holtman will take his Steam experience and refocus Microsoft's efforts in the PC gaming and digital distribution space to create a more competitive, more robust platform.