THQ and Valve have announced that the upcoming Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II – Retribution game will now use Valve's Steamworks instead of Games for Windows Live for online multiplayer duties.
“We are excited to announce that Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II – Retribution will use Valve’s Steamworks networking and matchmaking to provide co-operative and competitive online play," said THQ in a statement.
"This new back end will allow players to invite friends into matches from their Steam friends lists, and take advantage of the full set of Steam community features including groups, achievements, and Steam overlay chat channels. We are also going to include an all new matchmaking and ranking set up, built specifically for Dawn of War II – Retribution."
The new game, aside from having one of the most convuluted titles ever, is promised as a stand alone game in the series and will offer multiple campaigns as well as all six multiplayer races, with new units for each of the existing five races and one new unannounced race.
Games for Windows is relatively unloved by the PC gaming community but tends to be popular among game developers due to the ease of developers incorporating support from Xbox 360 ported games. However when it comes to a hard core PC-only RTS, these advantages are lessened.
THQ was surprisingly forthcoming about the reasons for the shift in multiplayer infrastructure: “The move to Steamworks will also allow us to provide features like guest passes, free multiplayer weekends, pre-loading and the ability to provide fast turn-around on future patches and updates," they said.
The free play weekends scheme has proven to be a marketing success on Steam with Valve flagging upcoming free play periods so PC gamers can download the games ahead of time for the trial period. If players like what they experience in the multiplayer, already having the game installed makes for an instant and painless up sell opportunity.
Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II – Retribution is due some time in the new year.
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