Universe At War Oddly Joins Games For Windows Live

June 29, 2007

With Games for Windows Live, Microsoft’s initiative designed to bring Xbox 360 and Vista gamers together in a resounding chorus of cumbyeya, now a reality, the big question in players’ minds is “Now what?” An aging shooter and an unimpressive Counterstrike clone do not a platform make.

To answer gamers’ collective call for help, Sega has announced that the forthcoming Universe at War: Earth Assault for the PC and Xbox 360 will support Games for Windows Live, making it the first third-party title to be announced so far that will allow both PC and Xbox 360 players to play together in harmony.

The game is scheduled to ship for the PC in North America and Europe this winter, and for the Xbox 360 in the first quarter of 2008.

Wait, what?

So, Sega and Microsoft are banking on Xbox 360 owners wanting to play against PC players who have had three months or more to train, become good, and potentially bored of playing the game by the time they even get to boot it up? I’m sorry, as much as I don’t care for Shadowrun, it got one thing right. The only way this service, which is still in its infancy, makes sense and can be expected to garner any sort of widespread use, is through simultaneous launches.

Game players are a fickle bunch. I know. I’m one of them. And even with features such as a “persistent-style ‘Conquer the World’ mode” where players compete across platforms to take over the Earth, with this sort of release gap I just don’t see the PC gaming community caring one way or the other by the time the Xbox 360 version ships. They will have had their fill, and moved on to the next flavor of the month.