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Here's the official word:
Games for Windows ' LIVE:
Effective today, all Games for Windows ' LIVE multiplayer features are now completely free. Achievements, enhanced TruSkill matchmaking, cross-platform play with XBOX 360 (in games that support it), voice and text chat, a friends list that is consistent across both Windows and XBOX 360 ' everything ' is now free to Windows gamers.
- This change immediately affects all currently available Games for Windows ' LIVE titles and all future titles.
- Microsoft will also announce plans to deliver a Games for Windows ' LIVE marketplace this fall, which will offer downloadable game content (free and paid, determined by the publisher), demos, trailers and more.
- Microsoft is also making the Games for Windows ' LIVE in-game interface
much more PC friendly, and reducing the technical requirements for developers.
Microsoft will disclose plans for DirectX 11 to game developers. DirectX 11 is a big step forward for gaming, adding features onto existing DirectX 10 (and 10.1) hardware. Direct3D 11, a key component of DirectX 11, will include:
- Full support (including all DX11 hardware features) on Windows Vista as well as future versions of Windows
- Compatibility with DirectX 10 and 10.1 hardware, as well as support for new DirectX 11 hardware
- New compute shader technology that lays the groundwork for the GPU to be used for more than just 3D graphics, so that developers can take advantage of the graphics card as a parallel processor
- Multi-threaded resource handling that will allow games to better take advantage of multi-core machines
- Support for tessellation, which blurs the line between super high quality pre-rendered scenes and scenes rendered in real-time, allowing game developers to refine models to be smoother and more attractive when seen up close
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