How to use Games for Windows - LIVE

    • Level   3

    Games for Windows is a branding that Microsoft has developed. It is an attempt to standardize features like compatibility within the Microsoft Operating Systems for PC gamers. The features of the game like, controller support, Direct X 9/10/11, subscription fees, multi-core support, 3rd party DRM, and system requirements will always be up to the developer/publisher of the game  (IE NOT MICROSOFT). Multi player functions of Games for Windows titles are handled by the developer/publisher of the game, and have no affiliation to the LIVE network.













    Games for Windows LIVE is a category of game that falls under the Games for Windows branding. The LIVE logo underneath the Games for Windows branding means that you can log into an online identity (Gamertag), and play on the LIVE network. Through the LIVE interface you can earn achievements (Gamerscore), matchmaking, communication, and access to your purchased add-ons. LIVE is the service that provides online capabilities to Xbox 360, and Games for Windows. The gamertags created through both services are the same, and on the same network.


    The multi player functions of the games are through the Live network. The Live network is mostly a P2P (person to person) service that a user hosts a room/game lobby, and other gamers connect to that user. Section 8, Shadowrun, and  Halo 2 do allow a user supported dedicated server application. There are cross platform games available that lets PC gamers take on 360 gamers.

    If the game does not contain a Live logo on the box, there is no way to log into your gamertag or use the features of the ingame guide (Dashboard). There are hardware, software, and service requirements in order for Live/ingame guide to work; read the next paragraphs for information on what they are. For more information regarding Games for Windows - LIVE you can see a comparison to Steam.



    • Level   3

    Live Requirements:


    1.   Supported Countries:


    Xbox LIVE® and Games for Windows LIVE comprise the first and most comprehensive online entertainment network, uniting gamers on Xbox 360™ and select Games for Windows titles. LIVE connects millions of members across 35 countries/regions, making it easy for gamers to find friends, games, and entertainment regardless of their preferred platform. With LIVE, members receive rich presence information about their friends, they can easily communicate with each other, and they can track their gaming achievements and their Gamerscore.



    2.   High Speed Broadband Connection:



    There will always be increasing ways to be connected to the internet, but not all of them are supported by LIVE. With technology ISP's have become faster, but just because you can browse internet pages quickly does not mean that the connection meets the requirements that a high speed internet connection should have (According to this service). 


    Free Wireless Connections are awesome technology, but most of the time does not work with service that requires opening ports. It meets all the requirements of broadband access, but the firewall is usually the problem. If you can't get the administrator to open the ports for you then you will not be able to connect, or have NAT problems. If the network supports UPNP then you will have no problem, but most do not support that protocol, because of the p2p downloading applications.


    Unless they have the ports LIVE needs opened  then it is unlikely you will be able to play online multiplayer with any Games for Windows LIVE games. With a strict/moderate NAT the likeliness of playing/hosting online matches is very little. You will be disconnected a lot, or possible not able to connect. Wireless connections are prone to have signal degradation, and are susceptible to electrical magnetic interference/ radio frequency interference. Note: These types of connections are very dangerous. It is easier for your PC to be hacked through these networks by people that are on the same network. Always use a firewall & turn off file sharing when connected to these types of connections.


    Satellite Internet Connection is an emerging technology lately. But this technology most likely will never be compatible with Live. The amount of time it takes the signal to get to its destination will be in the 400-900ms. This is way too long to be able to hold the connection to the Live servers. It is possible to be logged into your gamertag, but to be able to hold private chats; host/join online games will not work. (Tethering also falls into this category.)


    Digital Subscriber Lines (DSL) Most ISP's that offer this type of connection will require you to use their hardware. Most of the time they will issue the subscriber a gateway device in order to use their service. A gateway is a router & modem combined into one. That means the device has a built in firewall that will need to be configured (Port forward/UPNP). ISP's sometimes require you to use a certain firmware that they support, and you cannot upgrade. If you have a DSL connection then I recommend just getting a modem lease from them, or buying your own modem (If they allow that.). Then if you want to use a router its as easy as buying a separate one that is Xbox Live/Vista compatible is better than using what they provide.


    Cable Networks are compatible most of the time. I heard that people have run into problems with some cable ISP's. But it is impossible to judge by someone posting on a forum. Cable ISP's are usually very lenient on hardware requirements & setups. A cable modem connected to a RG-6 cable is all that is required to be connected. Most people will then run the cable modem to the router. This is the ideal setup & is easy to get going.


    3.   Compatible Routers/Gateways & Network Setups.



    If you are not going to use a router/gateway, and your network consists of a switch or direct connection to the modem; you should use a firewall at all times when directly connected to the internet. If you use a software firewall you will have to open the ports, and allow any executables access to the internet through the specified Live ports. See the documentations from the sofware makers site or call their tech support line for help. Antivirus, spyware, and firewall all in one security suite programs are not recommended with the Live service a lot of times these programs will block the protocols the service uses, and you will not be able to connect/use the LIVE service. If you are not using a router, or gateway you can skip all of this section, because it does not apply.


    When you set up your connection it is strongly recommended that you hardwire your network. Not only does it keep your network more secure from outside invaders it is fool proof. Wireless connections are not a fool proof technology, and have issues with Live games. Some people can get it to work while others run into constant problems. The signal is a radio wave, and because of FCC regulations these waves have to be regulated. Wireless connections are prone to have signal degradation, and are susceptible to electrical magnetic interference/ radio frequency interference. This will result in you losing connections which will end up dropping you from the game lobby, or could make your router non responsive. Connecting through a wireless connection to Games for Windows Live is not recommended.


    At the completion of your network setup always check to see what the NAT is set to inside your network settings of the Games for Windows Live guide. You want your NAT to be set to OPEN. If it is set to moderate/strict you will run into problems connecting to other gamers online, and can be booted from the lobby. It is also important to host/join some online games to see if any abnormal behavior happens when you are playing. Note: If you are going to use a router setup in your home network then you do not need to use a software firewall. An extra layer of protection is not necessary, and will not provide more protection than your routers firewall.


    Some routers routers/gateways may not be compatible with the LIVE service. Most routers are compatible; all of the routers/gateways with Vista compatible stickers as well any with Xbox Live compatible stickers are guaranteed to work with LIVE. The hardware compatibility list can be found here.


    Gateways in particular have trouble with the LIVE service. Some ISP's require you to use a certain version of firmware, and don't support newer versions. I do not recommend gateways, but sometimes you have no choice but to use what the ISP provides you. If you can use a modem, and router setup it is much easier to get setup or diagnose network problems.


    Getting the LIVE service to work with your router/gateway while require you using portfoward, virtual servers, or UPNP in your router setup. Look at your network hardware documentation on how to setup these services on your router/gateway.


    Using demilitarized zone (DMZ) of your router/network is not a recommended option. DMZ is used for troubleshooting connection problems, and after troubleshooting you should work on configuring your firewall to work with the LIVE service.

    • Level   3

    Joining Games for Windows Live:

    In order to create a gamertag you will have to create a Windows Live ID. First you will need an email address that is not currently used for another Windows Live ID. Don't just create an email address that you have no interest in maintaining. If you use a free email address, never intend on checking it once in a while, the freeservice will close the email address & it is likely that your Windows Live ID will be locked. There is no workaround to this at the time being. Microsoft is currently working on this problem right now. If you add a second email address into your Windows Live ID, then you can reset the password through that. But that step has to be done through


    You can make a Windows Live ID through,, & Doing it through, can be confusing & leads people to think that they have to pay for Games for Windows Live service. Games for Windows Live is a free service to anyone that is in the Live supported countries list. If you create a gamertag on a lot of information can be missing from your Windows Live ID.


    I recommend using because you can enter all the information at once, including billing information, date of birth, personal information, shared information, second email address for password recovery, etc. Doing it through this way requires an extra step though. (Note: Adding billing information is only necessary if you want a credit card attached to the purchase Microsoft points with.)


    After creating a Live ID, through, you will have to head over to, & get a gamertag. Click the join Xbox Live now link. It will ask for your email & password for the Windows Live ID you just created. Now you can choose your gamertag name & other information that you may or may not want to share. When you pick a gamertag name that is not taken, submit the form, & you will get a confirmation email in your inbox of the email address you used. Answer this email & click the link to confirm the creation of the gamertag. This is not a mandatory thing, but is recommended.


    When you create a gamertag, it will be defaulted to silver membership. Don't worry about the different membership levels. This was created to make two levels for the 360 users. Since Games for Windows Live has become a free service, the membership levels do not mean anything. There are certain things you can do on, with gold membership that you cannot do with a silver account. This is minuscule to what you will pay for every year just for using the messaging feature through Membership Levels. (Note: Almost all of the information on that page does not apply to Games for Windows Live service it is for curiosity only!!!)
    While you are on, you may want to enter your communication preferences. You can block out the world if you want to, but what fun would that be. Most of the time editing communication preferences is not necessary, but sometimes I have noticed that these settings could be defaulted to a setting you don't want. When you are at the My Xbox page, click edit your communication preferences.


    Editing in process.

    • Level   3

    Ingame Client:


    Ingame Games for Windows Guide:


    The ingame guide works similarly to the original 360 guide. To open the guide you need to hit the "home" key on your keyboard or hitting the guide menu with in the game menu. 




    This is the way it looks when you are connected to your gamertag online & ready to compete with/against other gamers online.The buttons are pretty self explanatory.



    If you your guide looks like this, then you are using your (online) LIVE gamertag in offline mode.

    Purchasing Microsoft Points:


    You can purchase Microsoft points through the Games for Windows/ Xbox sites,  points cards, Games for Windows Marketplace Client, or you can buy them if the game supports the ingame marketplace.



    Retail Outlets:


    The third is through retail outlets that sell Microsoft Points Cards. There are Games for Windows cards point’s cards & Xbox Live point’s cards. Both can be used for PC add ons. (Stay away from the DLC cards, they could be points, or be a redeem code for 360 DLC only.) Depending on retail locations, the amounts you can get range to whatever they have available. These transactions are taxable & you will pay tax according to what state/county/country you live in. Also you can get the codes through, but beware when you buy things through the internet. Make sure it is a viable place of business.


    If you have troubles redeeming the codes through Games for Windows Marketplace Application then do it on  


    If there is no way the card works on any of the sites/application. Then there is a possibility that the card did not get activated by the retailer when the POS (point of sale) purchase took place. This is to prevent people from shop lifting the cards. If they steal them they will not work unless a POS transaction is tagged to the card. If this has happened to you, return/exchange the card. You can verify the code if you call the LIVE tech support line.


    • Level   3

    Games for Windows LIVE Marketplace Application:


    You can download Games for Windows LIVE Marketplace Application here.




    1 Ghz Processor
    1 GB RAM
    Microsoft Windows XP SP3 / Windows Vista SP1 / Windows 7
    .NET Framework 4.0
    Internet Explorer 7+
    Silverlight 3
    Adobe Flash
    Windows Live ID Assistant
    UPNP/ Port Fowarding


    If you are on XP make sure you have downloaded the hotfix for the language your OS is. It will prompt you for download as soon the program launches. If the client cannot find the update then head to the page below for other supported languages.



    UPNP Instructions:




    Vista/ Windows 7: Start -> Network -> at the top in the middle Network & Sharing Center -> Enable Network Discovery


    If after this step UPNP is not working. Then open up services application in your OS. Go to the search box inside your start menu & search for "Services". Look for network discovery in the list of services. When you find it, make sure that the service is started, & not stopped.


    Common Marketplace Problems: 

    There was an error retrieving your purchase history. Please sign out & try again later.

    Metadata error is covered by this as well. Your date & time on your computer is not in sync with internet time. You will have to get your time to sync to the internet before you will get the client to work properly.
    The buy button or download button for the content page is grayed out or missing.

    You need to go into your internet options through control panel. When in internet properties setup box, click the "Security" tab. In the zone Internet, lower the settings to medium/medium low, for the time being. A lot of times it will be set to a custom level & that is not necessary. After you make the purchase/download, you can raise it back up. 
    Calculating download size

    You have an issue with your firewall blocking the ports the client needs in order to start/complete the download.  Either use port forwarding or UPNP.


    There is a problem with the offer.

    This error is Microsoft Billing related, and means that you need to enter your billing information before being able to redeem the offer. Not setting the billing when creating Live ID's will set the region to default (United States), and is unreversable.


    Having trouble with a download.



    The marketplace content & regions.

    The marketplace is regionalized, and will deliver the content according to those regions. If you import your games you will still only get add-on language support of your region.


    • Level   3

    Common Games for Windows LIVE Problems:




    There are a lot of issues users run into with logging in to their gamertag ingame. It is assumed by me that. (A) You are in a supported region of Live. (Where you are physically located is in the supported regions list.) (B) Meet the system requirements of the LIVE service. (Net framework, Windows XPSP3/Vista/Win7, Live supported high-speed internet, OS Service packs, etc.) (C) Meet the system requirements of the Live game you are playing. (Vista only game, Flash player, Rockstar Social Club, DX9/10/11 software/hardware, etc) (D) Have created an online gamertag outside of the game. (E) Have basic network, and computer knowledge. (You have Administrator Rights to the PC/Network, Know how to navigate to your router, and make changes, can change any setting or remove any software, etc)


    Note: Some of this foreword does not apply to all areas or if any. This is a standard statement to make sure you do/have the necessary access/software to be successful in troubleshooting.



    When I launch Games for Windows LIVE game it will not save my game status.


    This will always happen with your first installation of any Games for Windows LIVE titles, and if you bypass the creating/loging in of a profile this error will apear. This is normal behavior of all Games for Windows LIVE titles, and can be read through most of the game manuals. Games for Windows LIVE requires profiles to be create to save the game progress, and If you are in a unsupported LIVE region you will have to create a local profile otherwise you will need to download your LIVE (online) profile from the servers by logging in as a existing user.


    This gamertag is not supported for multiplayer.


    This means that you are playing on an offline gamertag. Games for Windows LIVE does not require you to create an online gamertag. You can install the game, create an offline account, play single player, and save the game on every title available. Users run into problems by using an offline profile, and not creating one using their web browser, or they are not connect-able to the LIVE service, and create a profile. The system cannot connect to Live, so it creates an offline profile. After a while the user will head to the multiplayer only to see this message. Also they play a single player game, new DLC comes out for it, and they want it. How you fix it is by creating an online gamertag. This topic is covered in the Joining Games for Windows LIVE part of this thread.

    I cannot connect to LIVE when I first start the game.


    This is normal behavior with all of the Games for Windows LIVE titles. When you first install a new game to your system (That has never been installed to the system before.) it will not know what the LIVE access key (cd, product, online key, etc.) is to the game, so it will always fail. When you see the failure to connect to LIVE, because of invalid product key error; Click try again, and enter the key. It will then connect to LIVE. (assuming that the game/service is up to date.)


    After typing in my product key, I am prompted to update Games for Windows LIVE system.


    1. This is a requirement in order to connect to the LIVE service. Basically it is updating the files that fall under the installation tab of "Microsoft Games for Windows Live - Redistributable" inside your add/remove programs. In order to log into your online profile, you will have to update the LIVE service to the lates version. 
    2. A game update may be required as well, but only if there is one available for the region of the game. Ideally if you can update the Live system update through the ingame updater then game updates, and profile downloads will not be an issued.
    3. Another thing with this part, you will have to type your Windows Live ID three times in order to login. I don't know why this is. It seems that when Live updates it forgets the Windows Live ID credentials of your profile, because there is no profile on the PC yet. It is annoying but you will only have to do these steps one time.


    Games for Windows LIVE will not update. 


    The update bar sits there & does nothing. If you are connectable then the blue bar should gradually get to 100%.  The blue bar is downloading the files from the server and is dependent on your speed. The next message is for the user to save what ever game progress, and quite the game. After getting to the desktop UAC will prompt, and GFWL installed will update the service. Check the below items to resolve.



    Cannot download profile.


    When the service tries to download my profile, the status bar sits their, and does nothing. This issue is caused by users bypassing the ingame updater, and manually patching all of the updates. If you cannot connect, and update the game using the updater, then you will run into this problem. It basically means you are unable to connect to the Live service. You will have to open the ports the live service needs in order for your profile to be downloaded, and signed in.



    Logging in to your gamertag.


    This is a tough issue for many new users. They think that hey I can browse the internet fine. What's the deal? Live is a service that needs to have ports opened that usually won't be open, in order to work properly. It is comparable to a hosted dedicated game server through your PC. If you don't open the ports, and redirect them to the correct PC behind your firewall the service will never be seen by other gamer's game browsers. That being said lets continue.


    Most of the time, when you cannot log into LIVE, there is something wrong with your network setup. You can look at the log files for the problem, but with this problem the service will tell you have a network problem. The best way to figure out what is going on is to circumvent your router by directly plugging your PC into the cable/dsl modem. If you can log in, check your network settings to see if it shows that your Nat is set to open. Also it is a good idea to test the connection by joining an online multiplayer game. See if you experience any type of lag, sign in changes, getting randomly kicked from the game, or any other anomaly. If that works then it is your router that is cause of not being able to login.


    If you have a problem logging in while directly connected to your modem, then it is either a program like hamachi, xfire, firewall,antivirus/spyware, or ISP firewall that is blocking the service. There are instances that none of this works. Only things left could be that the ISP is incompatible with Live, router/gateway is incompatible, MTU settings in not within parameters, or your modem has a built in firewall that needs to be configured. If you are using your ISP's hardware, and think that is the problem. If you suspect your ISP is incompatible it is best to call their support line, and ask them if they support Xbox LIVE. They should be able to help you setting up LIVE too.


    Running MS Services only.


    The easiest step to take in order to make sure nothing is running that could block the services MSconfig. Search for MSconfig inside the search box in the start menu, or the search button on XP. Open it up to services. Click disable all services, and restart the PC. Check to see if it is working now. If it is not working then uninstall any program that could be adversely affecting the ability to connect. If it is still not working it is most likely not your software, and the problem is with your network hardware.  



    Your Games for Windows - LIVE is set to communicate with friends only. You cannot participate in matchmaking while this setting is active.

    Your game for windows live account is set to communicate with friends only.

    Your Windows Live account is not authorized for communication.

    Sign into with your gamertag. Then click your gamertag in the top right. To the left of your avatar change your online safety settings accordingly.


    Multiplayer priviledges are disable on your account.


    This can be two different issues entirely. Either you have a child account and the Games for Windows LIVE option is disabled in your safety settings, or you have been given a account suspension either due to non-payment, or online corrective actions by your online interactions.

    • Level   3

    Reserved for the future.

    • Level   V

    Hey Glocks, we need a new posting to cover the new requirements etc.  You know, MS Silverlight, .Net Framework 4 Client Profile, Windows Live Essentials/Windows Live Sign in Assistant etc.  Ya know?  Just thought I would mention it.  Also mentioning about the Release date protection thingy.Wink

    As always, Play Safe!

    • Level   3

    I put the .NET framwork 4, and windows Live sign in assistant on the marketplace application, because that is required there. I can put the protection schemes.

    • Level   V

    And Microsoft Silverlight and mention that GFWL Marketplace piggy backs on IE or is that mentioned in one of the posts above?

    As always, Play Safe!

    • Level   2

    Awesome post Glocks.

    Chop lowRob LoweChad Lowe.

    • Level   3

    Thanks. I got a question if you could pass it on. Are we gonna be able to make changes to these types of threads, or is that not possible? I wish I could update the joining Games for Windows LIVE section, because it is very outdated. A ton of changes over 3 years with Windows Live ID. I could repost if it isn't feasable to make edits with the forums permissions.

    • Level   V

    That is a good idea.  If we, ourselves make a thread that we want to up date and keep relative, it would be great to have control over updating certain posts for the reason you mentioned.  I have never seen this in any other forums, so I wouldn't hold my breath...

    As always, Play Safe!

    • Level   3

    Code: 8015403A - There is a problem with your account that you need to resolve before signing in.


    As of November 1st 2010 the XBOX GFWL LIVE Terms of Use has been updated you will need to sign in and accept the terms of use before you can sign in to LIVE.  

    • Level   1

    I get told that my windows live ID or password is incorrect when they are not and I am able to login to and everywhere else that is windows live id enabled.  I think it is the ports not being opened but all of your links just open back the GFWL's forum homepage which isn't very helpful.