Playing video games on PC is starting to get too complicated. Not because of the controls or anything inside the games themselves, but because of all the launchers there are. As some might remember, in the days before Steam games had no universal launcher, but instead were installed separately and in some cases, the install code was even reusable. You usually needed to keep the CD in the computer to play the game, but other than that, those were simpler times.
Starting the game meant starting the game, not starting a universal launcher which then started another launcher which then started the game. Although some might say that they don’t want Valve to have the monopoly on game launchers, it doesn’t mean that it has to be done the way it’s done right now, because the way it’s done nowadays is inconvenient and just plain annoying.
For those who don’t play on PC, the situation is as follows: There are several launchers that you can choose from, depending on which game you want to play. The obvious choice for most and the most widely accepted launcher is Steam, owned by Valve. Other commonly used launchers by choice are Battle.net and GoG Galaxy. These all sell different types of games, and although there might be other, much better solutions than having three different launchers, these are used for very specific areas. Battle.net has been around for a long time, and GoG sells games that you won’t find on Steam.
However, there is another launcher that no one asked for and almost no one installs on purpose. The feared uPlay. Ubisoft’s attempt at making a PC launcher wouldn’t have been a problem at all if all their games weren’t already available on Steam. Even then, it would have caused less uproar if they decided to stop putting new games up on Steam or took all their games down from sale and put them on their new platform. They did neither of those things. Instead, what they did was keep all their games on Steam and made their own launcher. Now even this, in itself, wouldn’t have been a problem if they didn’t force you to do everything on uPlay whenever you want to play or download a Ubisoft game from the last four years or so.
You might be thinking: “I mean, four launchers, that’s not that bad, right? Right?” Well, sorry, buddy, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Because there’s a lot more where that came from. Once you look past the glaring flaw that is uPlay, you get to another launcher. Origin. Out of nowhere, EA decided that the world would be better if they had their own PC launcher as opposed to putting their games on Steam, for example, and as with every such EA decision, they were wrong. There aren’t many games of worth on Origin (other than the Mass Effect series and Titanfall 2), and even then, the whole launcher has such a heavy dependence on the colour orange that makes even the fruit look grey. All because EA decided they needed to do something on their own.
Then, as if those five weren’t bad enough, there’s another launcher that doesn’t even have enough games to actually have a point. Epic Games went ahead and realized that every other launcher had games on it, so to set themselves apart, they needed to put their games on the launcher that previously only had development tools. Smart move, they said, giving themselves a high-five. That’s exactly how you stand out from the competition.
To top it off, you even have launchers by companies that don’t even make games. If you want to reap the benefits of your Twitch Prime subscription, you’ll have to start using the Twitch launcher. If you want to play a game that you bought to support a streamer, you guessed it, you’ll have to start using the Twitch launcher. It’s actually frustrating that they thought it would be a good idea, but it’s already been established that as good as no thought has gone into these launchers.
Back to the first three launchers that were mentioned: Steam, Battle.net and GoG Galaxy. The only reason there is such a high acceptance for Battle.net despite it not being very different from Origin is that it’s the oldest launcher there is on PC. Except for the problem there is that there are two versions of it. If you want to play any of the older games you’ll have to grab Battle.net classic, because they obviously had to distinguish between people who want to play Starcraft and people who want to play Starcraft 2.
Even if you look at the other two, there are issues. Steam is somewhat comparable to the Twitch launcher nowadays. Valve seems to have lost all interest in making new games in the style that people knew and loved, instead focussing on cash grabs and hats, as well as letting other people release games on their platform. If it weren’t the biggest PC launcher, Valve would be getting endless flak, and gamers are starting to be aware of how little Valve seems to care.
The third of those launchers, GoG Galaxy, is from a company that many thinks can do no harm. CD Projekt Red is easily one of the most beloved developers of all time, and with GoG, they clearly had good intentions, but it also just adds to the pile of unnecessary launchers. While not quite as cluttered as Steam, it has many of the same games Steam has.
However, what sets it apart as one of the better launchers is the fact that it has many older, usually unavailable games. For example, the Myst franchise was recently completed on GoG after years of only the first, second and fifth entries being available on Steam. So while it’s probably the best launcher in the endless pile there is, it still just adds to the pile.
PC gaming is an arid wasteland bountiful with almost as many launchers as games, and the same mix of good and bad. Despite some launchers being having a much larger assortment of games than others, certain publishers felt the need to make their games look exclusive, but it really doesn’t work. All it does is piss gamers off and push many gamers towards consoles so that they can have a single unified platform. It makes you want to go back to the good old days when the most you had to worry about was if the disc was clean enough, instead of worrying if you opened the right version of the right launcher with the right code.