Up For Debate - How to Best Manage All Your Separate PC Game Clients

Written by Jon Sutton on Wed, Dec 26, 2018 10:24 AM

If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably got too many game launchers and clients on PC.

It can be tough to manage the potentially hundreds of games we own when they’re split across Steam, Origin, Uplay, Epic, Bethesda, GOG, Battle.net, Windows Store, or any number more.

However, there are solutions.

A number of key teams are working on or have release universal game launchers that attempt to bring your entire PC game library together into one place. All those hundreds of games accessible with a quick double-click.

What’s a Universal Game Launcher?

Universal Game Launchers are applications that hook into your various store accounts and libraries in an effort to bring all your games into one place. Think of a single place that has Battlefield V from Origin, Starcraft 2 from Battle.net, PUBG from Steam, and Assassin’s Creed Odyssey from Uplay. Click any of these games and it’ll automatically boot the appropriate client and run the game. No messing around and no trying to remember which games you own on which storefront.

Are you looking for a single game launcher for all PC games?

If you’re looking for a universal launcher, there are already a few options. There’s a long way still to go for some of these services, particularly in providing access to your entire library of games. However, they’ve come a really long way lately and are definitely worth checking out.

 

Here are the best unified PC game clients

 

Launchbox

Launchbox is an incredibly powerful and versatile solution for managing game libraries. It’s been built as a frontend for DOSBox and supports just about every time of PC game and retro console game. It’s even got lots of built-in emulation support as well as automatic downloading of box art and assorted info on just about every game under the sun. You can load in your collection of, ahem, legally obtained SNES ROMs and Launchbox will slot them into your library, add a packshot, release date info and also sorts of other bits of assorted metadata.

But there is a catch.

While a lot of the features in Launchbox can be automated, there can also be a lot of fiddling. Connecting it to your Steam account isn’t as easy as it could be, while it can only scan for games from other clients that have already been installed on your system. Tame this beast though and you’ve got a powerful one-stop shop for all your gaming needs.

Playnite

A bit of a newcomer to the world of universal game libraries, Playnite has nevertheless already made impressive strides. There is automatic integration of your Battle.net, Bethesda, GOG, Origin, Steam, Twitch and Uplay game libraries. You will have a one-time setup logging into all these services through the client, but once that’s done it can scan and automatically add every game from these services, whether you have them installed or not. You can even kickstart the downloads within the Playnite client itself.

Just as with Launchbox, Playnite allows for the automatic downloading of metadata for the games. It’s less extensive and doesn’t really cover older retro goodies, but if you’re sticking to PC gaming then it definitely gets the job done.

And that’s not all...

One other nice little feature in Playnite is the integration of Steam friends and chat. You can use the Playnite client to chat through Steam.

Steam

Some people have a huge attachment to Steam. It’s been a cornerstone of PC gaming for well over a decade now and folks have built bulging game libraries that mean they don’t want to move anywhere, not even to a unified game library.

It is perfectly possible to add each and every game you own to your Steam library though. Adding non-Steam games is pretty simple - just point towards the executable and then name the link. However, this can be massively time-consuming if manually importing larger libraries, and you will have to add new links every time you download a new game.

Explorer

For those of you who remember a time before Steam, it’s also perfectly feasible to use Windows Explorer as a universal PC game library.

How can you actually use this?

Well, how you do it is up to you, but a single desktop folder can house A-Z shortcuts to every single game you own. Or subfolders per client, or genre, or whatever you fancy. It’s not flashy and it does require a bit of fiddling, but it’s definitely an alternative and old-school method of keeping your games in one place.

Failing that, you could splash them across your desktop like an absolute heathen.

There are a few suggestions then, but as always we're keen to find out what your solutions are to this mounting problem in PC gaming. How do you keep all your PC games and clients managed? Let us know below!

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04:48 Dec-29-2018

I tried Playnite a good idea, I use GOG, Steam, Origin, Epic, Bethesda, with Uplay you still have to log in, no Epic, feedback a hassle

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10:24 Dec-28-2018

Soo, first there was a launcher to group your games (eg steam) and now there is a launcher to group your game lauchers. Can't wait till we get launchers to group the launchers that group the launchers that launch games.

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11:43 Dec-27-2018

I just only use steam, if it's not on steam I don't buy it, simple as that.

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03:39 Dec-29-2018

Same, It's a simple solution but I do feel bad for people who are forced to use multiple launchers.

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02:30 Dec-27-2018

Most of my games are on Steam or DRM-free but launched via Steam, I only own a handful of games on other clients. Therefore I'm not overly bothered about what goes where.

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18:55 Dec-26-2018

I use a program called GameRoom so all my games are in one place.

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18:36 Dec-26-2018

I just keep a folder in my taskbar, old habits.

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21:36 Dec-26-2018

Same, tried and true method.

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18:13 Dec-26-2018

I use mostly the Steam, but I have Origin installed for when I want to play some of my games (never actually), and Uplay for Far Cry games. My game shortcuts are all inside a folder on my desktop. Before I had all organized by name (A-Z), but I wanted to make my desktop cleaner, my monitor is only 1360x768, so I created a folder.

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17:54 Dec-26-2018

I honestly don't really think the "too many launchers" problem is actually a problem....I really only use GOG and Steam, occasionally Blizzard. Still, if a decent game is on one the others it's not a big deal.

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17:51 Dec-26-2018

Most of my games come from Steam, those that I have on GOG get a link in Steam. I usually don't install Origin unless I decide to play my few EA games. Even then, they get a link in Steam.

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17:12 Dec-26-2018

Simple, have less of them; the fewer the better.

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15:33 Dec-26-2018

I neatly organize all my games using Steam categories, I don't care for anything else. But that's not important, I'd love to have TES6 in my Library too! Nice one :D

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13:31 Dec-26-2018

I just have Steam, GOG Galaxy, Uplay, Origin and Battle.Net shortcuts on desktop. I run whichever I need. I have them set to not start with windows and when possible to properly exit on closing window, not go to tray and stay in background. And for playing, that gets the job done.

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13:35 Dec-26-2018

However, only annoyance is shopping, since I sometimes will forget that I bought something on other store, this is mainly between GOG and Steam. With library of 450 games on Steam and 190 on GOG, I would kind of wish to have a way for clients telling me what I own on other store.

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13:39 Dec-26-2018

Things tend to pile up with time, I mean my Steam account is good 14 years old by now. And GOG is good 5 years old. Both going through countless sales and I also bought quite few Humble Bundles, because giving money to charities while buying games is cool. And then game industry asks why we don't buy more games... :-D

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13:24 Dec-26-2018

i preffer all shortcuts to be on my desktop

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13:26 Dec-26-2018
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14:13 Dec-26-2018

No, noooo, NOOOOOOOOOOOO!

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14:30 Dec-26-2018

Hehe, you should have seen my desktop before I re-installed. 21:9 2560x1080 smallest possible windows 10 icons, desktop had only three more spaces for icons. XD

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18:17 Dec-26-2018

no no i meant like games and programs i use often are on my desktop

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08:06 Dec-29-2018

Same

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12:29 Dec-26-2018

I create a folder and put all the shortcuts for my games in that folder.


Then I create a toolbar on the taskbar for that folder.


It's simple and neat.

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13:24 Dec-26-2018

This is so 90's style :D I like that

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12:03 Dec-26-2018

I manage it in taskbar xD , i dont have a problem with launchers like here http://prntscr.com/lzowmp

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11:58 Dec-26-2018

I despise clutter of any kind. Having multiple software that essentially does the same thing is a waste of space and resources and I've always tried to avoid it.
I have Steam and GOG installed on my PC, and for the sake of convenience and simplicity if I can't find a game on GOG or Steam I rarely play it or buy it.
I have everything neatly stored in separate customized folders on my desktop for all my games and software for easier access.

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11:46 Dec-26-2018

Since when did desktop folders become old school? I'm not that old :(
I've come across lunch box multiple times but never got around to trying it. Thinking of testing it out :)

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11:29 Dec-26-2018

How to manage them? Kill 'em all, but since it's wishful thinking I just install all the clients and have a folder games in which I have a folder for each of the clients.
Steam is crap origin and epic launcher are great, the rest are fine I don't mind having many clients as it makes no difference to me, I hate them all since DRM sucks and can go die...

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11:12 Dec-26-2018

steam client is the worst game client ever, as many here we have a gaming pc and a generic laptop we use to download games, we download using the laptop, when i want to transfert updated/downloaded game to the gaming pc most of the times i am forced to download the hole game again,
uplay has an option to locate

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11:14 Dec-26-2018

manually game files, origin is good also, every thing is stocked in the same folder
unlike steam where we find common folder/downloading/temp and those app manifest files ,coping those manifest did not help me

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11:51 Dec-26-2018

You can find your game files in Steam/steamapps/common where individual games are installed, and I believe you can transfer that to a different PC to the same folder without needing to re-download the whole game. Have the game start downloading so it writes down all necessary files, transfer the folders, verify the cache afterwards and you should be done I believe.

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12:13 Dec-26-2018

There is an option in Steam to backup games and then import it.

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12:23 Dec-26-2018

Yeah, I forgot about that completely. There is that too.

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12:51 Dec-26-2018

copy paste feature was disabled long ago, now there are those appmanifest files to tell the pc that the game is installed, those appmanifest i think they change when you update the game, i will give the backup feature a try
i dont undesrtand why they complicate things though

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13:56 Dec-26-2018

I didn't know they disabled that feature. I didn't have to try it for a while now though.
I don't know why they complicate it either. Could be a measure of security or who knows what. It should be easier to do, I agree there.

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13:23 Dec-26-2018

You can do the same on Steam in the download section in steam settings.

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11:10 Dec-26-2018

lol, please don't tell me there are people who actually need to read such articles to know that you can store your game shortcuts in a folder called "games" using "Explorer" :P
That aside, nice article. I might give a try to the top suggestions.

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