Unified launchers spreading

It seems all major MMO developers are jumping on the unified launcher bandwagon. Sony Online Entertainment (SoE) has had a few different launchers of this kind over the years – the LaunchPad for instance. The studios tell us this gives us a one stop-shop-style access platform to access all their games.

Since I hop around from game to game over time my hard drive is already cluttered with games, now it seems I’m being pushed to have these platforms as well. It seems like an unnecessary complication to me. I do not have particular brand loyalty to any given studio and am not in the habit of trying a new game just because it’s done by studio X (I’ve never been that tempted to step backwards from EQ2 to EQ1 for instance).

Trion have introduce their new platform Glyph recently. But I’m not playing any of their games now so I can at least skip that. Perfect World  also launched the Arc platform a while ago for their games. I only play Neverwinter but feel almost compelled into downloading the software, certainly the old website is almost unusable as it redirects to the new community pages on Arc – which breaks every old link to the Neverwinter site by the way! Even Blizzard have joined in now with the new Battle.net desktop app launcher, uniting your icons for Diablo 3, WoW and Hearthstone in one easy double-click.

So does anyone actually like these programs or are they just an attempt by devs at cross-marketing to players of one game for their other offerings?

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4 Responses to Unified launchers spreading

  1. Meznir says:

    I like the Battle.net launcher – it finally memorizes my login details so I don’t have to type them any more and makes login quicker. It just replaces the old launcher, so isn’t an extra step. It also shows you who is online, playing which game, so would be useful if you wanted to meet a friend in a game.

  2. Jonny 5iVe says:

    The battle.net is by far the best unified launcher I’ve seen. There are still issues with it, but for the most part it works well.

    I’d much prefer it if every game would just sign on with Steam. Would make my life a lot simpler.

    One can always dream.

  3. It depends on the launcher. My experience with SOE’s unified launcher was not all happy, especially when they dropped all support without bothering to tell people. They were still pushing it on their web site while the support folks were telling people not to use it.

    So when I got the Battle.net launcher as part of Hearthstone, I was a bit peeved. But, it seems to just work and has a couple of minor benefits, so I am good with it for the most part. The news tab is an improvement, as is the ability to see your BNet friends before logging in. It isn’t always happy on my daughter’s computer, but I have internet access under parental controls in the OS, and that seems to trip up the launcher. It throws errors, but lets you plow through and launch the game. However, if there is an update, I have to log in with the admin account to do the updates.

    This is clearly starting to be a marketing thing though. StarCraft II, which I do not own, figures large on the BNet launcher, and you can bet their new MOBA will as well. Hopefully Trion can make theirs work as smoothly as Blizz.

  4. R says:

    +1 for WA, it really depends on the launcher and the reason it exists. In too many cases it seems like more of a “we’re tired of paying Steam a cut, we can do it ourselves and only advertise our own games” than something intended to improve the end user experience. Since Blizzard has never used a 3rd party launcher there isn’t a problem with them having their own.

    They key is that the launcher can’t make the process worse. My experience with non-Blizzard launchers has been almost entirely negative, including Steam… Steam “works”, generally, but I’ve had some issues with how they’ve implemented some things over the years and overall it’s been a negative experience, I’d rather just play a game without Steam’s involvement.

    The other issue is support… I’m comfy that Battle.net and Steam will patch games into the distant future. Games offering their own launchers can be hit or miss, especially with all of the developer shut-downs / merges / etc happening these days. I recently played a game that was only a couple of years old but couldn’t patch itself due to what I’m assuming was a shut down patch server (there wasn’t any sort of useful error message). That’s an area where Steam would be a benefit…

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