News: GTAIV: San Andreas Beta 3 is out now

Heads up everyone - Microsoft has announced that on August 22nd, they will be shutting down Games for Windows Marketplace. This means that after that date, you will no longer be able to purchase games and DLC for games that require Games for Windows Live, such as the individual episode packs for Grand Theft Auto IV. Purchases you've already made will still be accessible after the marketplace shutdown date, however Microsoft stops short of stating how long that access will last.

This act is yet another nail in the coffin for Games for Windows Live, which has been the victim of severe neglect at the hands of Microsoft's Xbox division ever since it launched in 2007. When it originally launched, Microsoft pushed it as a premium-paid online service that would allow for gameplay with Xbox 360 users. Microsoft quickly learned that PC users didn't want to pay for something they already had before and dropped the paid requirement while only a couple of games used the cross play feature (which was broken a few years back by a 360 update - it was never fixed). Back in 2008 when it was announced Grand Theft Auto IV was coming to the platform, gamers had mixed reactions. A number of members in the GTAIV modding community even developed a tool that is compatible with a number of titles to remove G4WL. Fast forward to today, developers are dropping support for the platform. Recent PC titles from Rockstar such as L.A. Noire and Max Payne 3 do not use G4WL, in favor of using Social Club to power online play. Even Microsoft has stopped releasing their own games on the service, favoring Steam and Steamworks to power non-metro Windows games.

So what does this all mean for Grand Theft Auto IV and Episodes from Liberty City players? As we've stated, while Microsoft plans to let G4WL continue for the time being, it is definitely running on borrowed time. Eventually, likely sooner than later, Microsoft will start taking steps to shut the service down for good. Once it goes down, you'll no longer be able to play Grand Theft Auto IV multiplayer on PC. There is a community-brewed solution for online play called IV-MP, however it is far from stable. 2K Games, Rockstar's sister label, looks to be currently in the process of re-releasing Bioshock 2 using Steamworks instead of G4WL. Could Rockstar be doing something similar for Grand Theft Auto IV and Episodes from Liberty City? We can only hope. In the mean time, enjoy the online play while you still can -- and make sure you have backups of all your games plus DLC!

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