Why is it important: Just two weeks before Fallout 3’s 13th anniversary, Bethesda appears to have released a small update, removing its dependence on the defunct Microsoft Games For Windows Live service. This update may complicate the installation of Fallout 3, depending on how your mods and DLC packs are set up.
Bethesda released a fix for Fallout 3 on Steam this week. His patch notes brief considering the impact of the update on the game. When it came out in 2008, Fallout 3 was one of many games that used Games For Windows Live (GFWL), an earlier attempt by Microsoft to integrate PC games with the Xbox. Microsoft no longer supports GFWL, which causes many older games to get stuck with problems as they try to enter a broken service at startup.
In particular, Fallout 3 was always playable without logging into GFWL – the service was only used when players purchased and installed DLCs (which was the original reason I created my current Microsoft account over a decade ago). Players worked around this issue by using mods or by purchasing the Game of the Year Edition, which includes all DLCs, thus eliminating any reason to enter GFWL other than achievements.
Other versions of Fallout 3 offered on GOG.com and the Microsoft Store have already fixed GFWL as well. However, attempts by the Steam version to enter the GFWL after Microsoft ditched it could cause problems.
However, users have found that deletion Fallout 3’s GFWL can cause problems on its own. Users who purchased the DLC through the GFWL may lose access to it if they do not receive the DLC through Steam or become the owner of the GOTY edition. I checked my copy of the original Fallout 3 release and the DLC data files disappeared (luckily I also have a GOTY version and a GOG version). The update can also break mods. The patch notes suggest uninstalling and reinstalling the game before restarting it.