Publishers need to either put effort into their game launchers / store fronts or just put it on Steam, the Epic Game Store or GOG.
Early this week; Bethesda announced that it will be shutting down its launcher and migrating its games to Steam. This is welcoming news for gamers as it means that there will be one less unnecessary launcher they will need. With publishers wanting to have their own launcher and cut out either Steam, Epic, or GOG – it’s great when one realizes it’s not worth the effort for them or the consumer.
Like Netflix for movies and shows; Steam defined the concept of a game launcher and digital storefront. Also, like Netflix; a lot of publishers wanted to cut out the middle man and so they created their own half-ass competitor. While competition is important to ensure a healthy ecosystem along with encouraging the launcher to be of quality, not every publisher needs to release a launcher.
The Epic Game Store and GOG have done an excellent job of being the competition Steam needs for the PC market. They offer a robust library of titles that are for sale at an affordable price while allowing indie studios to thrive. The launchers work flawlessly while also keeping your games up to date. Plus; they give out free games once in a while (or every week regarding Epic).
While having two additional launchers on the market could be welcoming if they were of the same quality. Instead, the competition is every publisher having their own half-ass version that could only be used for their games. Not a bad start if only said publishers actually had a vast library of games. It feels pointless for a publisher to even have its own launcher when their video game library could be counted with a single hand (looking at you Riot Games). Those that do have a vast library (like EA, Activision, or Ubisoft) are still limited by their own work unless they have a plan to grow.
Besides lacking in titles, some of these game launchers are unstable or total crap. The best example of an unnecessary and ineffective launcher has to be the Rockstar Games Launcher. Having to install it after getting Grand Theft Auto V (via the Epic Game Store), I found using it so frustrating that I ended up uninstalling both the launcher and the game (after 17 hours). For many of us, this pales compared to the dumpster fire that was Games for Windows – Live, probably the worst launcher.
If a publisher wants to create actual competition, then they are welcomed among PC gamers. But they will need to put the effort into a quality launcher while having plans to partner with other studios to grow the storefront.
If the purpose of the launcher is just for you (a major publisher) to avoid giving $0.25 to Valve or CD Projekt RED then don’t bother. Stop whining and just put your games on the Epic Game Store, GOG, or Steam.
8Bit/Digi is an independent media outlet that provides an insight into the video game community and industry of the San Francisco Bay Area.