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Microsoft readying on-demand gaming website

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In a sign of the growing popularity of Web-based game stores like Valve’s Steam, Microsoft has announced its own digital games download venture dubbed Games for Windows Marketplace. The online store will host a healthy lineup of PC games available for on-demand download and will launch in mid-November.

“With Games for Windows Marketplace, we set out to create a digital store built for PC gamers end-to-end,” said Kevin Unangst, Senior Global director, PC and Mobile Gaming, at Microsoft. “And by integrating with our existing Xbox Live and Windows Live services, we’ve made it easier than ever for millions of gamers to see for themselves how easy buying PC games can be.”

Users will be to login with a Windows Live ID and pay via credit card, or through Microsoft Points. Microsoft is promising a “Deal of the Week” and recurring seasonal specials to attract PC game aficionados, but makes no specific mention of any pricing scheme — discounted or otherwise — planned for the store. Other features promised for the site include “dedicated publisher pages,” re-downloads of already-purchased titles, and “ultra-fast” download speeds.

The site will host titles from industry heavy-hitters including Rockstar Games, Capcom, and 2K Games. Microsoft says there will be “a portfolio of 100 top-quality titles” available at launch that will include a mix of established classics and recent hits including Grand Theft Auto III, Max Payne, and Dead Rising 2. And of course Microsoft won’t forget about Microsoft, and plans to offer games from its own lineup including Flight Simulator, and Halo. The site will host games new titles at their release such as the upcoming Fable III and Age of Empires Online. Indie titles are promised to appear in the store as well.

The Games for Windows Marketplace is scheduled to go online Nov. 15 at the site GamesforWindows.com.

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