The digital age of video games has brought forth many benefits to the gaming community, but there’s also a lot of downsides too. One of the biggest issues that comes with digital games is multiple storefronts with different launchers to then play your downloaded games. But having multiple launchers is annoying and developers need to stop.
There used to be a time where you would only need 1 launcher: Steam. That was back in the glory days before companies started creating their own storefronts and launchers to bypass the fees for selling on Steam and bring more players into their own ecosystem.
Now we have anywhere between 1 and 10 launchers, maybe even more. I can’t be bothered to count them all, but at least a good third of my Windows 10 taskbar is taken up by the various launchers needed to play the games I have purchased.
I even came across a thread on Reddit titled: Am I the only one fed up with extraneous launchers? In which the user, u/PaleBlueHammer, talked about their experience with the recent integration of the 2K launcher whilst trying to play XCOM 2.
In it, they proclaimed how the launcher simply did nothing but negatively impact the overall experience. At first it did nothing but make you click the PLAY button a second time, but then they went to detail how it also takes up your system’s resources and even can negate any and all mods you have installed.
Now you could work around this, as u/PaleBlueHammer also mentions, by getting a custom launcher from somewhere like GitHub, or declining the terms of service each time they launch the game, or even getting locked out of gameplay options and content etc. But should gamers really have to jump through so many hoops before they can play the game they want?
I think the worst culprit is when one launcher launches another launcher. Who’s to say where the line stops? Some games on Game Pass will require you to launch EA’s own launcher, so what if Game Pass at some point comes to Steam? Then to play a game you’ll be launching Steam, then Game Pass, then Origin.
I know the situation is not that bad yet, and probably will never be, but it’s an interesting thought when one launcher already requires a second launcher as well.
There have been movements to create a unified game launcher. Stuff like GOG Galaxy already lets you integrate multiple launchers so you can start a game from different clients all from the same window. But it's not a perfect solution, as it still requires some level of negotiation and agreements, and you still need the other launchers installed on your PC even if you don't open them.
The thing is, launchers wouldn’t be that bad if they actually brought something to the table. At worst a launcher can negatively impact your gaming experience, at best they’re just completely worthless (at least in terms of the gaming experience that is - I am well aware of the benefits of having a launcher to organize and categorize a list of owned video games).
So what do you think? Are multiple launchers annoying? Or are we just complaining about an extra bit of effort needed to launch a game? Should developers just all just agree on a unified launcher for every game? What other alternatives are there? And what benefits actually come from using dedicated launchers? Let’s debate!