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Bethesda finally removes Games For Windows Live from Fallout 3

Why it matters: Just two weeks shy of Fallout 3’s 13th birthday, Bethesda seems to have pushed a minor update, removing its dependency on Microsoft’s defunct Games For Windows Live service. This update may complicate your Fallout 3 install, depending on how your mods and DLC packs are set up.

Bethesda released the fix this week for Fallout 3 on Steam. Its patch notes are brief, considering the impact the update has on the game. When it came out in 2008, Fallout 3 was one of many games that used Games For Windows Live (GFWL), Microsoft’s earlier attempt at integrating PC gaming with Xbox. Microsoft no longer supports GFWL, which has left many older games stuck with issues as they try to log into a dead service upon startup.

Fallout 3, in particular, could always be played without logging into GFWL—it only used the service for when players purchased and installed DLC (which was the initial reason I made my current Microsoft account over a decade ago). Players got around this by using mods or buying the Game of the Year Edition, which includes all DLC, thus removing any reason to log into GFWL other than achievements.

Other versions of Fallout 3 offered on GOG.com and the Microsoft Store also already patched out GFWL. Still, the Steam version’s attempts to log into GFWL after Microsoft abandoned it could cause problems.

However, users have found that removing GFWL from Fallout 3 could cause problems of its own. Users who bought the DLC over GFWL may lose access to it unless they get the DLC through Steam or own the GOTY edition. I checked my copy of the original Fallout 3 release, and the DLC data files were gone (luckily, I also have the GOTY edition and the GOG version). The update might also disrupt mods. The patch notes suggest uninstalling and reinstalling the game before starting it again.

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