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A Few Minutes with the Bethesda.net Launcher

By Shamus
on Tuesday Aug 7, 2018
Filed under:
Random

 
 

According to CNET, the Fallout 76 beta isn’t coming to Steam. Instead, the PC version of the beta will be exclusive to Bethesda’s own platform on Bethesda.net. Everyone is up in arms about the beta not coming to Steam, but I think they’re overlooking the bigger bombshell:

Bethedsa has their own platform?!?

Sure enough. I go to the site and there’s a link for “download the Bethesda Launcher”. How long has this thing existed?

According to the FAQ, the beta is available to people who pre-purchase the game. So you can pay up front to be a QA tester. On the upside, they’re promising your progress will carry over to the full game at launch. On the downside, this means at launch you’ll be entering a PvP realm where some people have several weeks of head start.

I’m always conflicted when I hear there’s a new game platform on the PC. I like having another competitor to Steam to work against their market hegemony and encourage them to not take their customers for granted. At the same time, it’s annoying having to manage yet another account and maintain yet another launcher. It’s more convenient to have all your games in one library. Also, the idea of a game launcher from Bethesda Softworks is mildly terrifying. Skyrim is the jewel of Bethesda’s works, and it was still counter-intuitive, occasionally broken, and janky as hell. I can only imagine what their launcher would be like.

I don’t care about Fallout 76, but I am curious what the Bethesda launcher is like. So let’s try it…

Bethesda.Net

So I try to create an account, and discover I already have one. That’s cool. The password is already saved in my browser, so that makes things easy.

I download the launcher and realize that I don’t know the password to this account. It’s saved in my web browser, but I need to actually know it to log in via the launcher. So I have to reset it. Fine. Easy. But then I notice the launcher won’t save my password. I’ll need to type it in every time I launch the application.

The thing is, I use a password manager and strong passwords. Every single password is different and they’re all impossible to remember strings like “iG2k3qt51J7UMwr7HNCE”. That works fine as long as I only need to enter it once and have it stored. If I need to type it every time I launch it, then the password needs to be something I can rememberLaunching the password manager and copying the password every single time is too much hassle.. In trying to make the platform more secure they end up forcing me to use less secure passwords. Too many companies seem to be confused about what passwords are for. I’m worried about strangers gaining access to my accounts remotely. I am NOT worried about strangers gaining access to my physical machine. If they have access to my desktop then they’re in my house, and if I haven’t bludgeoned them unconscious then it’s because they’re pointing a gun at me. At this point the last thing in the universe I care about is my stupid games account.

Damn it, designers. At least give me the option to save the password.

Anyway, this setup means I can either use a lousy password or launching BNArg. I just realized that Bethesda.net has the same abbreviation as Battle.net. That will make it annoying if I every write about both at once. Can’t you guys name your launcher? Branding is good! will always be a cumbersome three-step process to open my password manager, copy the password, and then launch BN. This gives me a strong incentive to get a game via Steam rather than using BN.

Whatever. I launch the launcher to see what’s up.

I own zero games on this platform. So why did I create this account? Perhaps I created it when I played Elder Scrolls Online? Nope. Looks like ESO isn’t available through this launcher.

I see you can link your Bethedsa.net account with a Steam account. Ah! Smart move, Bethesda. You can look at my Steam library, see what games I’ve purchased, and grant me access to those games here in the BN launcher. That can jumpstart my account so I have some reason to engage with the platform.

Oh. I see here I’ve already linked my Steam account? Interesting. But now I’m wondering why it says I don’t own any games. I own nearly the entire Bethesda catalog on Steam, and none of that this showing up here. So I’m wondering what the point of this feature is.

Okay. Let’s see what’s involved in buying a game on this thing. Wolfenstein: The New Colossus is at the top of the listWhat is this sorting based on? Why is Wolfenstein at the top? so I randomly click on that. Hitting the “Buy” button takes me away from the BN launcher and just opens the store page in Chrome. As icing on the cake, the game is selling for the launch-day price of $60.

Sigh.

Whelp, I’m bored and annoyed. There’s absolutely no reason to use this platform.

I know Steam keeps something like 30% of the sale price of a gameIt’s possible that big publishing houses might be able to negotiate a better cut for themselves, but even if they secretly haggle Valve down to 25%, that’s still a big bite. so I can’t understand why someone would go to all the trouble to build a launcher and then make no effort to entice people to use it.

Whatever. No skin off my back. I guess I can keep using GoG and Steam.

Footnotes:

[1] Launching the password manager and copying the password every single time is too much hassle.

[2] Arg. I just realized that Bethesda.net has the same abbreviation as Battle.net. That will make it annoying if I every write about both at once. Can’t you guys name your launcher? Branding is good!

[3] What is this sorting based on? Why is Wolfenstein at the top?

[4] It’s possible that big publishing houses might be able to negotiate a better cut for themselves, but even if they secretly haggle Valve down to 25%, that’s still a big bite.


 
 
Comments (145)

  1. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Could it be that BetNet(if you dont want to confuse it with BatNet)was installed when you were installing one of their earlier games?Like new colossus.Maybe it was linked to steam by default then.

    Shame that theres no reason yet to install it though.Because what you describe is really inoffensive,if just a bit jank.For a newcomer,and bethesda no less,thats impressive.

    • “Oh. I see here I’ve already linked my Steam account? Interesting. But now I’m wondering why it says I don’t own any games. I own nearly the entire Bethesda catalog on Steam, and none of that this showing up here. So I’m wondering what the point of this feature is.”

      I have a vague suspicion that the “purpose” of the feature is to let you share your Friends list and cheevos.

      • Primogenitor says:

        I have a vague suspicion that the “purpose” of the feature is to harvest your Friends list and cheevos.

        • Zak McKracken says:

          ^ This

          They can access Shamus’ Steam data, although Shamus can’t remember giving permission to do so. That’s a rather big deal in my book.

          They might have gotten “explicit consent” by some sneaky means, like some checkbox during some installation process where Shamus did not pay attention, but that kind of obtaining “permission” is not a nice thing, either.

    • Agammamon says:

      I think that if you had a B.N. account for their mod repository that they’re using the same DB of accounts for the store.

    • Bubble181 says:

      I just want to point out that Battle.net has, sadly, not been called Battle.net for a while now. It’s “the Blizzard Battle.net App”. Seriously.

      • MelTorefas says:

        I mean, it might be named “Blizzard Battle.net App”, but I don’t think anyone actually calls it that. It’s definitely still called Battle.net or Bnet by everyone I’ve heard talk about it. I guess this is one of those cases your branding works against you… Battle.net is so iconic no one wants to change what they call it.

      • guy says:

        I’m pretty sure it’s still called Battle.Net or Blizzard Battle.Net, and what you use to access it is “the Blizzard Battle.Net app” because that’s a sensible naming convention that disambiguates between the internet platform and the software you use to access it.

  2. Lars says:

    Had the Bethesda.net Launcher for over a year. Just to try Elders Scrolls Legends. A F2P Hearthstone competitor. After I finished the campaign I uninstalled both.

    Why didn’t you looked for your saved passwords in chrome? Saved passwords can be viewed in the advanced security settings

    • Shamus says:

      I had no idea you could look up stored passwords. That’s nice. I’ll use that next time I run into this situation.

      • Redrock says:

        What password manager do you use? I was fiddling around with LastPass, but didn’t really see the point of using it over Google Smart Lock or whatever google’s password storage system calls itself these days.

        • Shamus says:

          I used KeePass 2, which I reflexively read as “KeepAss 2”, because apparently I’m 12.

          • Hal says:

            Keep ass? No, if you love something, you let it go. If the ass returns to you, then it’s yours forever.

          • bigben01985 says:

            I think KeePass can autotype username and password for you? Or, if you like that better/doesn’t work for some reason, you can copy/paste the password (and after ten seconds it wipes he clipboard so it doesn’t hang around)

            • Yep! KeePass let you setup/customize a global autotype key (using window titles to help you), or a hotkey you can press while in KeePass that will autotype it into the active window.

              • Alex says:

                On the other hand, creating a global “Leak sensitive information” hotkey sounds like a mistake waiting to happen.

                • You don’t fire it blindly, you tie it to a specific windows etc. Sure you can use wildcards, but use absolute full titles.

                  A webpage can’t trigger a OS key sequence.
                  A native program could however, but at that point you got a virus rummaging around on your machine anyway.

                  I also run KeePass in administrative mode, while the user account is a limited privileged one. This creates a elevation barrier between it and other software so other programs can’t even read/access the memory of Keepass.

          • Rick C says:

            “KeePass 2, which I reflexively read as “KeepAss 2”,”

            Is there anyone who doesn’t do that?

            • Rack says:

              Seems unlikely. I mean what’s a Kee? If it’s the password manager designed for Kee Marcello (thanks WIkipedia!) it’s unsurprising that isn’t the first thing to spring to mind.

          • DrCapsaicin says:

            I’ve been using KeePass for years and love it. Like you say, opening it and copying all the time can be annoying but frankly I just leave KeePass up rather than store the password in a browser. Then its just a quick copy/paste from one window to another. I’ve always believed (naively perhaps) that a saved password in a browser could be compromised by a virus more easily than an open program could.

            Also, I live alone, so leaving it open at home is no big deal. With kids and spouses running around you might not want to leave that info out and about on your machine.

        • Mechaninja says:

          I like LastPass because it has addons for every browser (even IE11, and please don’t ask why I’m forced to use that for something), and I use the same account for home and work (small business, I’m local manager and IT).

          I’ve briefly considered switching to 1Password because they work with http://www.haveibeenpwned.com, but haven’t gotten around to thinking seriously about it.

      • Ronan says:

        Other solution, works in any browser: on the pre-filled login form, you can right-click / inspect the password field and remove type=”password” to change it to a text field and see your password.

      • Marr says:

        Well, it’s equal parts nice and terrifying, because it means Chrome is storing passwords plain text in the same place on everyone’s machine, so that should come with a big flashing matinee warning sign.

        • Decius says:

          There’s no way to store your passwords except in a manner as secure as plaintext. (You can encrypt them, but the browser also has to have the means to decrypt them, since it has to be autofilled in plaintext).

        • Raygereio says:

          No. Chrome does not store your passwords in plaintext.
          Any Chrome user can check this themselves: Chrome stores the passwords in an SQLite database under %UserProfile%AppDataLocalGoogleChromeUser DataDefaultLogin Data. If you were to open that, you’d see that the password field is encrypted. Under Windows Google uses the Data Protection API to encrypt that field using the Windows user’s logon credentials. Edge & IE actually do the same thing.
          Chrome does allow you to view the passwords in plaintext. But that’s because you’re logged using the Windows’s credentials, so it’s a secure environment. Or at least should be.

          Now, is this 100% secure? Technically no. But realistically yes. If I were to have both Chrome’s Login Data database and your windows credentials, I could easily decrypt it. Or if you’re logged into your windows account and have Chrome running, I could simply walk over there and open Chrome’s password manager.
          However, these two scenarios (and pretty much all others where Chrome password system could be compromised) require the attacker to have such level of access (physical access, knowing your windows login credentials, etc) that anyone grabbing your Beth.net password would be the least of your problems.

          • Decius says:

            Any reason why anyone with a trojan running on your user account couldn’t also decrypt the database using the same API?

            • Raygereio says:

              None. In fact even I (as a novice programmer on my best day) could wipe up a little script that connects to the Chrome’s logindata database, calls Win32CryptUnprotectData to decrypt it and sends me all of your passwords. That’s not that hard. The only tricky part is getting you to run that script.
              Here’s the thing though: If your system is comprised to the point where you have malicious code running unchecked, then Firefox, Edge, Keepass, PassSafe every brower and every single password manager tool that is accessed via that system is equally vulnerable.

          • guy says:

            I do think it’s bad that you can get the plaintext passwords from Chrome that easily; people sometimes lend their computers to someone else and walk away for a bit, and they might do this with someone they don’t necessarily trust with knowing all of their plaintext passwords but do trust with five minutes of unsupervised browsing.

        • Rick C says:

          It may (or may not; I don’t know) be storing them plaintext, but you have to type in your Windows password to be able to view your stored passwords in Chrome, so at least there’s some effort at protecting htem.

      • Adam R Field says:

        Yeah, you totally can. But I’m lazy, so I actually find it quicker and easier to just open the developer console and change the “type=’password’ to “type=’text'” on the password field I want to see. Displays in plain text right then and there, since a password field is just a text field that asterisks out its contents on the frontend. ;)

      • Rax says:

        For what it’s worth: You can also right-click the password field, go to “inspect element” and change the type=”password” to “text” to see the stored password.

        Edit: And of course somebody already mentioned that. Should’ve scrolled down further.

      • Droid says:

        Isn’t storing a strong password in a browser’s auto-complete function kind of self-defeating? At least I heard that there’s almost zero security to passwords stored in this way. Or was that just someone trying to sell me their password manager speaking?

  3. Redrock says:

    Oh. I see here I’ve already linked my Steam account? Interesting. But now I’m wondering why it says I don’t own any games. I own nearly the entire Bethesda catalog on Steam, and none of that this showing up here. So I’m wondering what the point of this feature is.

    I don’t know what’s worse, this approach or the thing that Uplay does, where it adds the Ubisoft games you own on Steam to your Uplay account, only they’re still separate. So you can own, say a Uplay Far Cry 5 and a Steam Far Cry 5. I almost got in trouble because of this, too – seeing as how every launch of my Steam version of AC: Origins went through Uplay, I was half convinced that I could purchase DLC for the game through the Uplay Store when it was on sale and have it work with my game. I was one click away from finishing the purchase before I grew suspicious and googled it. And whaddya know, DLC bought through Uplay wouldn’t work with Steam and vice-versa. So adding your Steam games to your Uplay library is a huge waste of time and a possible source of confusion, especially if you have previously used GOG connect, which actually gives you GOG copies of Steam games. Sigh.

    What I’m saying is, these publisher-specific platforms all suck. The sad thing is, there’re some appealing dicsounts on the Ubi store.

    • BlueHorus says:

      …every launch of my Steam version of AC: Origins went through Uplay.

      Ah yes, the reason I haven’t bought a Ubisoft game since Far Cry 3.
      (Well, that and the way all the later Far Cry games seem really really similar. They do seem to love just churning out those sandboxes.)
      So you want to compete with Steam. That makes sense.
      But you’re going to do it by…launching a third-party program every time I want to play? Just adding another step to opening the game I bought from someone else?
      Bothering me in-game with pup-ups?
      The only time I ever see your program, it’s an annoyance that I didn’t ask for – not a good association for a potential competitor, genius.

      Even EA’s ‘you can only buy our games through our platform’ policy makes more sense than this!

      • Nessus says:

        Same. My one and only experience with Uplay was buying FarCry 3 on Steam back in the day, installing it, going to start it up… and being brick walled by a prompt to make a Uplay account. I googled to see what this “Uplay” thing was about, and what I saw gave me GFWL flashbacks, hard.

        I could not uninstall that shit fast enough, and I’ve never even looked at another Ubisoft game since. Unfortunately this was years before Steam had a refund policy, but at at least I got it on a decent sale price so it wasn’t a huge loss, just a huge disappointment. If I’d paid 60 bucks for that experience, I’d have been PISSED.

        And y’know what? I ‘ve never felt like I’m missing out on anything. Even with EA, for all their assorted horsefuckery, I occasionally feel a pang when they come out with a rare game that actually looks interesting to me, and for a moment I question my decision to abandon them back when they made all their stuff Origin-exclusive (that wasn’t the only reason, but it was the tipping point). But with Ubisoft, they just sort of seamlessly stopped existing for me. Their output has become so cookie-cutter that if you find don’t care for one of their games, you can pretty solidly bank on not caring about any of them.

        In regards to Bethesda… I cannot imagine myself trusting my personal information to the company that for over a decade has been happy to release the buggiest AAA games this side of Colonial Marines. Good games, mind you, but games that are famous for being as fragile as wine glass balanced atop a door.

        That’s not a rep that combines well with a type of service where even the competent companies seem to get successfully hacked every couple years.

  4. PPX14 says:

    Ugh, these online libraries! My library used to be in one place, in a box.

    • PerceptiveMan says:

      My library used to be in one place too. “All the hell over my house and I have no idea where that disc went” so this is still an improvement. ;)

      • Daimbert says:

        My console library is in the closet in the middle bedroom. My GOG library is on a couple of USB drives and in a directory on one of my machines. I avoid Steam because I really do want my library to be somewhere only directly accessible by me.

      • Thomas says:

        My discs used to drift into being stored in the cases of other games. Starting a game used to be a process of “So the Ratchett & Clank box has a FIFA disc in it, the FIFA box has an Uncharted disc in it, so…”

      • Nessus says:

        My console library back in the day (way back in the day now: PS2) lived in one of those CD binder things. Before that, the disk boxes were stacked or lined up like books on the shelf under the console. I’ve no idea how some folks end up with that stuff scattered all over the house, since the console is the only place where they could be used, so they’d have no incentive to wander.

        When I’d go to play something, I’d leave the disc case open on the TV stand or the coffee table, so there wasn’t any opportunity for mixing up of discs and cases either. People who’d get their discs and cases mixed up always seemed weird to me, ’cause it seemed like the rare sort of disorganization that actually requires one to go out of one’s way to achieve. Like, in order for that to become the path of least resistance, it has to be set up by doing something else that goes against the path of least resistance; like keeping your games somewhere other than beside the console, or putting an empty case back away after loading the disc, instead of just leaving it out and open within casual reach.

  5. Raion says:

    I use sentences with random nonsensical stories as my passwords. They’re long but easy to remember and type in as needed. As an added quirk, they are comprised of 3 different languages, and some entirely original words my family has coined up by fusing our 2 mother languages. Shouldn’t be easy to brute force via dictionaries, hopefully.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      I use a similar method,only its a bunch of in jokes.And while all of them are in my mother tongue,they still involve a bunch of obscure slang words that cant be find in any dictionary since most were made up by either me or my friends.

    • Ivan says:

      I’m not an expert on this at all, but to me that sounds like replacing the string length of your password, with the word count of your password, in terms of computing the data complexity of your password vis-a-vis brute force hacking. This may not be the best idea, but, again, not an expert. And I’m sure there are worse ideas :p

      • saj14saj says:

        This is true in some overall general sense, but the information entropy per word in a sentence from a large corpus is much greater than the entropy per character in, say, the set of visible UTF8 glyphs.

        However, the entropy goes down if the words are used in a semantically and grammatically meaningful sense, just like the entropy in a password goes down if the letters are arranged in an orthographically meaningful sense (fancy way of saying they spell a word).

        In practice, a strong passphrase from a wide corpus using nonsense words and non-grammatical word orders should be very, very strong comparatively.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        Even if we assume that you are using only words,and only those found in a dictionary,think about whats harder to compute:A string of 4* symbols out of a pool of 100*,or a string of 4* words out of a pool of 10000*.

        Not to mention that using words gives you a bunch more options for combining them than using just symbols.For example,using a single symbol 4 times can make your password into fFfF,which is not that hard to brute force.But using a single word 4 times can make your pass phrase into BetBetBetBetweenweenweenween.Just as easy to remember,yet orders of magnitude harder to brute force.

        *Numbers used for simplicity

      • guy says:

        If you just use words it’s vulnerable to a dictionary search attack and can be broken much more easily than a randomized password of equal length. But if you use uncommon words and do randomized capitalization and swap some letters for numbers and special characters it’s back to randomized brute force for cracking it and much, much easier to remember than a purely random password of equal length. It is now the recommended standard for passwords you type in.

  6. Sannom says:

    At the same time, it’s annoying having to manage yet another account and maintain yet another launcher. It’s more convenient to have all your games in one library.

    OK, this is mostly irrelevant, but when I read this, I don’t understand why the Diecast collectively couldn’t get their heads around the reason why GOG Connect was a thing when it was first announced.

    So adding your Steam games to your Uplay library is a huge waste of time and a possible source of confusion, especially if you have previously used GOG connect, which actually gives you GOG copies of Steam games. Sigh.

    Wait, so if you add a title to your GOG library through GOG Connect and then buy DLC on Steam for that title, those DLC are automatically transferred to GOG? How does that work? I thought GOG only had access to the Steam library during the Connect campaigns, not all year round!

    • Geebs says:

      GOG Connect was (is?) highly underwhelming. With functionality limited not only by time but also by title, there’s no way anybody earning better than minimum wage wouldn’t be better off just buying their games again on GOG* rather than wasting their precious time waiting around to click a button once a day in order to find out if anything they owned on Steam happened to be transferrable that particular week.

      * come to think of it, that might have been the plan all along.

      • BlueHorus says:

        This is the first I’ve heard of it, and I’m shocked it’s happened at all, honestly. You mean Valve actually agreed to transferring even some of their games over to a rival platform?

        One of the main purposes of this kind of distribution platform is that the customer can only access their games by using it!
        It’d be like Nintendo voluntarily porting a Mario or Metroid game over to the XBone. Just, why would they?

        • John says:

          Valve has nothing to do with it. With the exception of a vanishingly small number of titles, they don’t own the rights to the games they sell. They’re just a store. Unless they’ve got some sort of exclusivity deal with a game’s publisher, they can’t prevent that publisher from giving away a free copies of the game either by themselves or through the auspices of some other store.

          What I want to know is how does GOG persuade publishers to go along with this stuff?

          • BlueHorus says:

            Better coverage? Get that game out on as many platforms as possible, reach the widest market possible. And it sounds like it’s GOG doing all the work…?

            Also it’s possible that GOG take a smaller cut than Valve, which would suit the publishers & devs nicely. If GOG’s profile goes up, then selling games on their platform is more worth it…

            But don’t Valve own access to the games you buy on Steam? Or the data regarding your library, i.e the list of what games you have? Or something? There’s got to be something they’ve allowed access to.

            …well, I don’t know. The answer is probably buried in the EULA somewhere.

            • Sleeping Dragon says:

              The only link in the process that I can think of that would require Valve’s approval would be during the linking process I think you’re required to provide your Steam credentials (although I know several other services do the “log in through Steam” thing and I’m not sure how this works on the technical or legal side of things). Once the accounts are linked you need to have your profile set to public (so your list of games is visible) every time you’re trying to add new games to your GOG library through the connect feature so it is you rather than Valve who makes that data available, though in theory they can still do things like change the way your list of games is available to mess up with the connect.

            • guy says:

              I’m pretty sure the only thing Valve owns about games sold on Steam is any integrated Steam API stuff. They’re a store that sells games on a single-purchase basis; once they make a sale to you they lose nothing if you get another copy somewhere else.

              The only thing they might lose is DLC sales, but the publisher could just let other people sell the DLC standalone and allow Steam users to manually install it.

          • bigben01985 says:

            Well, by doing this they make gog more appealing as a storefront/game library by giving the users some games that they don’t have to buy. I imagine this builds pressure for steam to not get such a huge cut to stay ahead of the curve.

            Something along those lines I guess

            • Sleeping Dragon says:

              A big part of the issue GOG is facing in trying to take a larger cut of the market is a certain inertia. People who use both services tend to have larger libraries on Steam and treat it as a “default” platform that they browse when they’re looking for “something to play”, this applies both to the library and to the store itself. Heck, I know I sometimes forgot I own a game on GOG simply because I spent a long time not looking in that library just going from one Steam bought game to another. I believe what GOG is trying to do is sacrifice what few sales they’d get from people buying duplicates in order to fatten those libraries to the point where you can get stuck there in a similar manner. Especially seeing as in many cases those games are likely sitting in someone’s backlog so if you already had the GOG client open and you spotted that game it wouldn’t be any different than launching it on Steam, right?

          • Olivier FAURE says:

            In addition to what others have suggested, there’s probably a good incentive for game-sharing for games with DLC.

            Enable your games sold on Steam to be linked to GOG and everyone who bought your games on Steam can buy the DLC on GOG, where you can take a bigger cut.

      • John says:

        GOG Connect events are fairly rare. They generally happen during GOG’s big seasonal sales, and the list of eligible games is always fixed for the duration of the event. If you’re already at GOG’s website for the big sale, why wouldn’t you take a few seconds to check the list of GOG Connect games?

      • evilmrhenry says:

        After some Googling, best I can figure out is that linking your Steam account to your Bethesda launcher account is only for Elder Scrolls Legends, (the card game) and lets you share progress between Steam and the Bethesda launcher.

        (Did not mean to add this as a reply.)

    • John says:

      Wait, so if you add a title to your GOG library through GOG Connect and then buy DLC on Steam for that title, those DLC are automatically transferred to GOG?

      I don’t think this is true and I’m pretty sure it’s not what Shamus meant.

      GOG Connect only connects your GOG and Steam accounts in the sense that it allows your GOG account to see what you have in your Steam account. You can only get GOG copies of Steam games during a GOG Connect event, usually timed to coincide with one of GOG’s big sales. Unless I’m very much mistaken, GOG also has to work out a deal with each games’ publisher beforehand, so the number of games per event is usually pretty small. So, no, to the best of my knowledge, there’s no automatic year-round DLC-handling, though that would be awesome.

      On the other hand, I suppose that there’s nothing preventing GOG from cutting DLC-related related deals with publishers. I’ve never noticed any DLC in a GOG Connect event but I see no reason that it couldn’t happen in principle.

    • Shamus says:

      “OK, this is mostly irrelevant, but when I read this, I don’t understand why the Diecast collectively couldn’t get their heads around the reason why GOG Connect was a thing when it was first announced.”

      I have no idea where you’re going with this or why you think I don’t know about it or understand it. This is exactly the point I was making: Connecting two libraries ought to be a good way to give you a “starter library” so you have some reason to use the launcher. I’ve connected a few games to my GoG library. GoG’s problem is that they can’t just give me a free copy of (say) Unreal without getting permission from Epic Games. So they can’t magically import my entire list of owned games from Steam. However, since Bethesda explicitly personally owns and controls the publishing rights to their library of titles, they have the freedom to do this. And yet they don’t. Which is why I bought it up.

  7. TheCheerfulPessimist says:

    If they have access to my desktop then they’re in my house, and if I haven’t bludgeoned them unconscious then it’s because they’re pointing a gun at me.

    But Shamus, what if they break into your house while you’re not there? (Oh wait, that assumes you ever leave your house…)

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Thats not fair!Shamus totally leaves the house.Why just this year he has already left the house at least once.On average thats like….TWO whole times a year.

    • Decius says:

      And further, that he doesn’t take his PC with him when he leaves the house.

    • Richard says:

      The set of people who want to break into your physical house and the set of people who want to break into your virtual goods don’t intersect for most people.

      For the most part, a burglar wants to steal easily-transportable goods that they can sell for cash.
      So they’ll nick a laptop, but they probably won’t bother with a desktop – except maybe to feed it syrup for lols*.

      Aside from that, you’ve got a login password and encrypt your disks, right?

      * Last time anyone I know got burgled they emptied the freezer over the floor for some reason. The mess was quite astounding.

  8. Content Consumer says:

    I would like to relate the first and second times I tried to use the Bethesda.net launcher (was trying to use the Fallout 4 GECK).
    NB – cursing removed. :)

    First time:

    The Fallout 4 GECK went into open beta today, and I decided to try it out. I’m not planning on doing any modding with it for quite some time, if ever, but I wanted to see if anything has improved. A new interface, fewer bugs, new organization? Let’s find out!

    You have to opt-in to the Fallout 4 beta first. Okay, that’s fine, and it makes a kind of sense too.
    600mb download later, you’d think they were adding new textures and meshes or something instead of just scripts. But what do I know?
    Great. Fallout 4 is now updated to the beta version in steam. And… where’s my GECK?
    Turns out the GECK isn’t included. Which also makes sense, I mean it’s a separate application after all. So where is it?
    Apparently it cannot be accessed through Steam. Bethesda have decided to go proprietary, probably to snatch a bigger share of the revenue when they open up paid modding again.
    You can get the GECK by downloading Bethesda’s proprietary mod launcher. Because one launcher isn’t enough, nossir.
    Fine. Download Bethesda’s launcher.
    Turns out what they give you isn’t Bethesda’s launcher at all, it’s an .exe that launches a launcher where you can download the launcher. We’re reaching level 4 of a nested launcher situation here.
    I launch the launcher that launches the launcher so I can launch the launcher to launch the GECK. You know, the word “launch” starts to look really weird typing it multiple times like this.
    Downloaded the ACTUAL launcher this time, which is what the first launcher did.
    Launch the final, or at least the penultimate, please gods, launcher.
    I have to create an account at Bethesda.net to use their launcher. Not to get to the GECK, mind you, but to use their second-stage launcher.
    Ragequit.
    Try to uninstall the launcher (and the launcher’s launcher), only to find out it’s a TSR. I don’t remember reading anything about that in the various EULAs. Lots of stuff about how Bethesda keeps ownership of everything up to and including the planet Mars, but nothing about sticking in memory after you tell it to go away. Whatever. Anyway, can’t uninstall a program while it is running.
    Open taskmanager and kill the process.
    The process restarts itself. Kill it again. This time it dies for good, hopefully.
    Try to uninstall again. Says the process is still running, even though taskmanager says it’s gone.
    Kill steam. Doesn’t help. What the f* is this thing, a virus?
    Restart the g*d* computer. This time the process seems to be gone. Halleuljah.
    Uninstall the g*d* thing. Double hallelujah.
    Don’t forget to opt out of the Fallout 4 beta, because it turns off all mods when it’s running.

    Well, that was an exciting hour and a half. I’m sorry I even asked. Please forgive me, oh ye mighty Bethesda, for daring to attempt to gain access to your modding tools that you have made freely available to the public, with the words “freely” and “available” and “public” being open to wide interpretation. I promise, I’ll never try to poke my head into your business again.

    EDIT: After rereading it, it looks like I’m saying there’s a 4-level nested launcher in there. Let me clarify:

    Steam is an application/game launcher that launches:
    __The Fallout 4 launcher, that launches:
    ____Fallout 4.

    The GECK cannot be launched through Steam. Bethesda wanted to keep it separate. My conclusion is that they did so because they want a larger share of the revenue when they reintroduce paid modding again. Probably not with Fallout 4, though I wouldn’t be surprised if they start a “donate money to your favorite author” thing where Bethesda takes none of the profit, which gives them a springboard for taking a chunk of the profit for their next game.
    To get the GECK, you have to:

    Download Bethesda’s proprietary launcher. It isn’t the real launcher, though, it’s one of those mini-apps that are just a downloader for:
    __Bethesda’s proprietary launcher. After signing up, you can presumably use:
    ____The GECK.

    So it’s not a 4-level nested launcher, but a pair of 2-level nested launchers instead. Which is somehow considered a good thing.

    If I hadn’t ragequit at step 13 there, who knows what might have happened. For all I know, Bethesda requires a credit card or phone number to validate my user info or something stupid like that. After sitting twiddling my thumbs for half an hour downloading the Fallout 4 beta (which disables any mods you may have installed, btw) I didn’t want to sit and wait for yet another download, who knows how big, to go. And gods know where it would actually put the files, because I’m guessing it won’t be a user-defined directory considering how grasping they’ve been so far.

    The EULA really is concerned about ownership, too, making d* sure to tell you that Bethesda owns everything that comes out of the GECK. I don’t remember if Skyrim’s EULA was like that, but it doesn’t matter – it sucks anyway.

    I’ve been told that Papyrus has some new nifty features, but I can’t be bothered to ever find out. F* ’em. Especially after the whole bit about the proprietary launcher staying around in memory after I closed it. I can’t guarantee that wasn’t just a bug or something, but I really don’t care – I absolutely hate it when programs do that.

    Who knows… maybe in the future Bethesda will fix some of these issues (probably not). But even if they do, I’ve been turned off.

    Besides… Fallout 4 just isn’t as engaging as Skyrim, when all is said and done. It’s too bad – I was ambivalent about it before I got it, but I really did want to love it – it just isn’t happening. It’s not a bad game at all, it’s just… mediocre. Even the settlement building, which I really got into, has begun to pall.

    Second time:

    When the Skyrim Special Edition CK went available:
    I decided to try it again. It wasn’t nearly as painful. There were only three EULAs to say yes to, and only two of them seemed to have mutually conflicting clauses. It was only ~70mb, not half a gig.
    You get the launcher, then you have to sign in to bethesda.net through it, then download the program, then you can use it.
    Unfortunately, it crashed the first time I tried to use it. I clicked on a little purple-looking icon just above the CK icon to see what it was, and I got a spinning box loading icon that lasted for about ten minutes before I gave up and force-quit. Won’t make that mistake again – sorry, I didn’t mean to offend you, launcher, by clicking your buttons. I’ll be good from now on.
    HOWEVER – it appears that when you’ve started it once, you can just use the .exe file (or shortcut if you prefer) directly, rather than going through an unnecessary resource-hog intermediary. Might even be able to uninstall it too!
    It still minimizes instead of closing though, you have to go an extra step to get it to actually quit.

    • Decius says:

      I wait with anticipation for the first time Bethesda tries to enforce their claim ownership of a fanfic implemented through the GECK from the author of the IP. If the mod author isn’t trying to sell it, but Bethesda does tries to monetize it, it could end up squarely between actual companies.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      You dont sound that content to me.More like an angry consumer.

    • BlueHorus says:

      So yeah, I know this meme is long dead, but this is just the perfect story for Xzibit

    • default_ex says:

      You got a lot farther than I did. When I was playing FO4 and got tired of the crappy placement mechanics for settlements. I said screw it, I’ll implement my own solution. So I went to Bethesda’s developer portal, began to get frustrated that I can download previous versions without any launcher but the new one requires a launcher that is known to be hostile toward users. Downloaded it, installed it, can’t log in. Go to the website and log in, wtf… Spent a few minutes thinking it was a mistake I made or Windows was getting in the way, still can’t log in. Spent an hour going through everything network wise, even fired up Wireshark to make sure it’s actually sending something out and not refusing to try. It’s sending out data and get back data, weakly encrypted data but it’s talking to Bethesda and Bethesda is talking back.

      Took to support at this point. Massive mistake. Took 6 hours of trying the same things over and over again for each new tech before I finally lashed out and yelled at the guy because I told him I have already tried this crap multiple times over. How the hell would reinstalling a graphics driver help a launcher log in anyway?!

      Tried a complete network reset including reinstalling network drivers with resets and checks of affected folders and registry entries checked to make sure it really did reset everything to vanilla network settings. No dice. Began to try connecting test programs whipped up in C# using the exact same ports the launcher uses, works fine and passes strict tests of functionality with flying colors.

      New approach, is this a location thing? So I fire up a free VPN service, set it up to push the Bethesda launcher across the VPN and begin to cycle through available endpoints. I tried every entry in multiple free VPN services list. One of them allowed me to log in but not download (connection refused error).

      Ok, screw it. Fixing their aggravating placement mechanics is not worth, I’ll just do bare minimum for that part of the game.

      • Content Consumer says:

        It’s not that bad any more (at least, in my experience – YMMV).

        The Bethesda launcher seems stuck in perpetual beta for some reason – or at least it still said “beta” the last time I tried, which was maybe a month ago – but it’s not too bad. Launch the launcher to launch the program, a 2-step process. Granted, that’s a 100% increase in mouse clicks over just clicking the .exe file, but it’s okay. I got used to Steam, I can get used to this I guess. Or would, if I ever actually did any Fo4 modding.

        • Sleeping Dragon says:

          So what I’m getting out of this story, coupled with my experience with Bethesda products, is that they need to release modding tools for the launcher and let the community fix all the issues. Though all things considered probably the only way to get the tools would be through the launcher…

  9. Pax says:

    So one thing about the Bethnet launcher is it seems to use the same account as their forums. Also, I originally set mine up to download the Creation Kit for Fallout 4, but you also need it for the in-game mod browser and Creation Club if you’ve ever fiddled around with those. I have no idea how you got it linked to your Steam account though. Mysteries abound!

  10. Gargamel Le Noir says:

    Impressive, I didn’t think they could make me even less hyped for Fallout 76…

  11. Lazlo says:

    Just as a note on the other side of the password remembering coin… the other BN at one point (and still to this day) decided that it should save passwords eternally. I actually have a hardware 2FA token for my battle.net account, and it hasn’t asked me for it in months if not years. And while I generally trust all the people who live in my house and have reasonably strong protections in place for my computers, I still find this horrifyingly bad. I’ve certainly known people with roommates terrible enough that logging into WOW and deleting all your characters while you were out wouldn’t have been out of the question.

    • Wooji says:

      This is accually a setting on your BN account page, you can set it up to.. hmm i beleve the optins are
      “once”
      “occationally”
      or
      “everytime”

      and that will be how often it asks for a code from the authenticator for any given machine you log in on.

    • Mephane says:

      I’ve certainly known people with roommates terrible enough that logging into WOW and deleting all your characters while you were out wouldn’t have been out of the question.

      In that situation, I’d be worried about the computer as a whole, and lock Windows any time I leave it even for a moment. Windows-L is a handy shortcut to immediately lock Windows and require a password when you get back.

  12. TehShrike says:

    Have you used the itch.io app?

    I’ve been using it more than GOG in recent years, though still not very heavily. It’s my “super-indie” game client.

    • Aanok says:

      I hate the Itch launcher for being an Electron app (or equivalent), but their store policies are a godsend. You can actually choose how much money off your sale to give to the platform, the default being 10%, down to nothing at all.

      My only concern is whether this would be able to scale to substantially higher volumes of traffic and publishing.

  13. FluffySquirrel says:

    Is no-one else a bit weirded out that not only did Shamus already have an account (somewhat reasonable), it had already apparently linked to his Steam? (albeit could be a false reporting bug given the lack of games)

    One of those things is not like the other, and would be a severe invasion of privacy

    • Xeorm says:

      Nah. I don’t think it’s a case where they went ahead and linked his steam account without his permission, but that sometime in the past they’ve been linked and he’s forgotten. Accounts with long running companies can change dramatically over time, and it’s not like regular people will keep track of all the changes.

  14. MadTinkerer says:

    Arg. I just realized that Bethesda.net has the same abbreviation as Battle.net. That will make it annoying if I every write about both at once. Can’t you guys name your launcher? Branding is good!

    That settles it then: I’m naming my launcher O.R.I.G.I.N.

    Then I’ll finally have my REVENGE.

  15. Dreadjaws says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t Origin allow you to transfer some games from your Steam account? Origin? You know, EA‘s service? How can Bethesda be doing a worse job than freaking EA? And I don’t think UPlay allows you to do that, but they routinely give away free games and at launch week they had a bunch of games for sale at $1 each.

    Honestly, how did Bethesda screw up so bad?

  16. GoStu says:

    All these companies taking it upon themselves to create their own launchers and online stores seem to trip over their own feet and faceplant on a few key points:

    – Their own in-house store never seems to have discounts on the games/DLC and sell for day-one prices meaning they’re doomed to irrelevance because Steam sneaks up behind them and cuts their throats prices.

    – Because it’s always single publishers going it alone, their libraries tend to be pitiful. What’s that, Ubisoft? I can get just your games through this service, and it’s already on Steam already? Wowee! I’ll be sure to NOT rush over there right away!

    – They all feel like an afterthought/also-ran service that probably has to subsist on scraps/beatings from the rest of the company. I bet the budget for GFWL was “two interns fed scraps from the break room” and UPlay was maybe “three interns and a lunch twice a week”.

    If I was appointed as new Head of Videogames by John Videogames, the king of Videogames, I’d probably use my business skills to phone up a few other publishers who’re tired of paying the ‘Steam Tax’ and see if they’d like to go in with me on a joint venture project. We’ll pool some of the money from our massive money-vaults and spin up a child company (of course, we’ll own all the shares of this).

    This company will have to live or die on its own, thus motivating it to not-suck. We’ll give it the rights to all our respective company’s games at a pre-determined slice of sales… instead of Steam’s 30%, maybe our baby company gets 20% so we get a healthier 80%. It’s up to them to live or die by competing with Steam, but they’ll have a couple things going for them: a library of games from multiple publishers, the freedom to get aggressive and competitive on pricing to compete with Steam and GOG, and a pile of programmers and budget to try and build a less-bloated and shit storefront than Steam.

    No guarantee that it’ll work, but businesses have been made and grown from less.

    • BlueHorus says:

      Yeah, there does seem to be a kind of ‘knee-jerk reaction’ aspect to a lot of the single-publisher platforms.
      Like one day a senior manager just burst through a door on a load of employees and shouted ‘Wake up nerds! This ‘Steam’ network thing is making crazy money! I want you dweebs to make one for us so we get some of that market!”
      Then he wanders off in search of some company assets* and forgets about it, so the whole ‘competition with Steam’ thing gets half-assed and ends up woefully uncompetitive.

      Hey, Uplay, Origin et al: if you want me to leave Steam you’re going to have to offer me something Valve doesn’t, capiche?

      *Hookers and cocaine

    • Mephane says:

      There’s also the community angle. Like, I already have a friendlist on Steam and one on Discord (with significant overlaps), both of which are rather universal, as in, not tied to a specific game or publisher.

      I have no desire whatsoever to manage separate friendlists across even more platforms – which is made especially annoying because handles are unique per platform and first-come-first serve, so sometimes a person you have known by the same handle for a decade now suddenly has to use a different one because company X just had to make their own platform. And when you are using such a platform so rarely you end up wondering who these people are in their friend list because you have used the feature only that one time a couple of years ago…

  17. Nick-B says:

    I wonder if we can get congress to pass a kind of legal game platform aggregate. Since you bought a product on Steam, you ought to be able to access it without the platform itself. So we need a law to force them and Ubisoft and EA and Blizzard and Bethesda to allow access to the games through an API. That way, third party game platforms can do the same things (download and auto-patch) as a normal game client, without having to run it themselves. Adding another game service would be as simple as selecting from a list (or adding one manually), pointing to their cloud storage location, input their login info once, and BAM.

    …one shared list of all your digitally purchased games. You can still purchase a game from a specific platform (steam, Origin, Uplay), so they still get their cut for providing the service. Then a game company can make their own store, take their own cut, but not get the stigma of forcing yet ANOTHER game client on everyone’s computers.

    I see “cloud storage” for music/videos moving to this soon. Already, I think I heard Microsoft and Google working on a kind of public API where stuff stored in their cloud can be accessed by other providers, as long as you link the accounts?

    • BlueHorus says:

      Reminds of the ‘Price Comparison’ websites you get online.
      In theory, they simplify your shopping, but something inevitably comes up: either not everyone wants to sign up, or the companies have to pay to get on the site, so you’re just adding another middle-man to the sales chain. Or something else.
      (Good example: Companies pay top dollar for Google to bump their webpages up the ‘search results’ table. Which of course Google will do…for a price.)

      Next, who pays for the maintenance & security of this all encompassing API?

      Then, some companies (like Valve, who are probably just fine with how the system works at the moment) are going to complain that the entire thing constitutes government interference in a free market, if there’s a law involved.
      Which, of course, it would be…

      • nick-B says:

        I’m not saying there is some kind of third party API that has to be maintained. It just means that each company has to add to their own EXISTING API that allows something other than their own official client to download and install games. If they just allow the same secure login to be done by another client than their own, there’s no issue.

        This isn’t even going to turn into a case of someone getting something for nothing. In my hypothetical, you still have to purchase a game through a particular service in order to forever get the ability to download it. This is what we all currently have with our services, assuming they don’t go out of business. Each store can charge a percent (as steam supposedly gets 25-30%) of all sales to keep for future maintenance and upkeep, like they do now.

        The only downside to this I can see for the platforms themselves is that people won’t be encouraged to get a game ONLY through them BECAUSE they are already invested so much into it. I get most of my games on steam BECAUSE it’s already on steam. But that’s verging pretty dangerously on (what I feel is) a monopoly, since there is so much resistance to any alternate product. Similar to Microsoft’s Internet Explorer or Word being included in the OS, that meant alternate products were “discouraged” from being purchased and used since it’s a further investment.

        This could only be good for every service but Steam. Imagine any company wants to make their own store and service the installers/game files and patches themselves, and take 100% of each sale rather than 70%. There will be a heck of a lot less resistance to purchasing it as a customer because it’s “yet another” store.

        Once each company opens up their API to allow outside access (once properly authorized), there is nothing to keep Steam from trying to stay dominant by changing THEIR client to allow access to your other game subscription services too. I know a friend that would love to stick with steam because it is familiar, if he can access other services’ games through it.

        This can also open up freeware third party clients. In the chat program world, this has already been done. Trillian (back in the day, and apparently still available now) was a program that consolidated various chat program logins into a single interface, which wouldn’t be possible if they were still locked off.

        I just don’t see this ever happening unless congress steps in. It would be better for EVERYONE except for the Valve/Steam middleman.

        • Mephane says:

          It would be better for EVERYONE except for the Valve/Steam middleman.

          I am not so sure about that. Steam has the advantage of being established. Even if you could access all your game libraries from all other platforms through Steam (including using Steam’s social features instead of whatever the other platform hacked together for a rudimentary friendlist+chat), people might be more eager to shop around, but still access and play through Steam. Even if Valve may not get any money out of that purchase on another platform, it is still better for them if you purchase elsewhere but play on Steam, than if you purchase elsewhere and also play on the other platform.

          • Nick-B says:

            I fail to see how starting to make zero money from the majority of game sales for people’s steam collections would be a good thing for Valve. I don’t think that Valve gets a boat-load of money from our private information being sold to advertisers, and they sure as heck don’t have any ads shown TO us (ads in the store are to gain their share of sales). Opening up their API ought to cause them lost sales, as more developers make their own store and leave steam’s market or even move to smaller services that charge less. I believe that Steam’s dominance in the market is what is preventing companies from moving elsewhere unless they are REALLY big, hence why EA, Ubisoft, Blizzard, and now Bethesda have their own.

            But if that is the case, then even better. If it’s good for even them, then there’s no reason not to start implementing it right now? Hey Valve, start by opening up your API to letting people access their games through other service clients!

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Sadly,there is one thing that prevents this from happening:The internet.Back in the day when movie studios owned theaters,one of the reasons for forcing them to split was the fact that if a studio did not own a theater outside CITY,they would never show their movie there.But with the internet,nothing prevents you to sell your game wherever you wish,even the other side of the world.

    • Agammamon says:

      There’s very little that is ever improved by Congress getting involved.

      And it would lock in particular business models in law while creating a framework to exclude innovation. At best you end up with a short-term solution that turns into a problem in the long-run.

      Even if you’re not with me on the ‘government is shite’ wagon, I would hope that its obvious that there are about a bajillion things more important in front of Congress than shitty videgame marketplace practices.

      • Nick-B says:

        I am NOT in with you on the “government is bad” wagon at all. Properly implemented, government can be a tool for good. Unfortunately, all current congressmen/women are not who I’d trust with something important, let alone as technologically advanced an idea as implementing this anti-competetive protection measure. I am including both/all sides of congress in this.

        I am trying not to make this partisan at all, and am willing to drop this “government good or government bad” argument so as not to encourage further politicing.

        Aw well, a man can dream. Maybe we can socially pressure Valve into making the first step (lol).

        • Agammamon says:

          Neither was I – I was just pointing out that no matter where you fall on the ”government is good/government is crappy’ spectrum, there’s about a bajillion higher priorities for the Federal government to deal with first.

          • Nick-B says:

            Maybe they can slot this in after they finish renaming all the post offices after past presidents or giving themselves raises. ;)

            Seriously though, this may not be “MUST STOP WORLD WAR III” level of importance, but it’s still affecting a large chunk of the economy. Consumer convenience aside, there can be long-term harm to innovation if a single large middle-man gains such power for a long time. This can help encourage competition by opening up platforms to customization.

            They tried it already with cable boxes, before that got scrapped by obvious lobbying by the current cable monopolies. It’s because of that we don’t have single platforms that combine all our subscription services into single devices with cool features. It takes big companies ages to add new functionality to their boxes, while leaving it up to the public almost instantly results in competitive feature lists.

            Roku already tries this, with access to various internet streaming services, but even it doesn’t have the big services only (reluctantly) being offered by the movie studios. The tendency is that once a company gets a big enough presence, they prioritize locking in customers rather than innovating to compete with others.

        • Decius says:

          “Properly implemented, government can be a tool for good. ”

          I agree with you, but that conditional clause is doing way too much heavy lifting in that sentence.

    • Decius says:

      So you want to ensure that Pseudoku never makes it to market, because it would be impossibly burdensome for a lone dev to meet that regulatory burden?

      Or do you want a master government database of who owns what software and when and where they have downloaded it?

  18. RCN says:

    Still pinning over Impulse.

    DAMN YOU Stardock. Why would you make such a convenient and useful platform and then effectively murder it in the most gruesome way possible by selling it to GAMESTOP, the worst gaming store in the US?

    I had several games on the platform. None of them had DRM. I had backups of every single one (though I lost those backup since then). It launched in seconds while Steam still sometimes takes ages for no reason.

    Sigh…

    • MadTinkerer says:

      I feel that way about Desura. Desura was cool… until it was run into the ground.

      But at least there’s the Itch.io launcher, which is basically Desura-when-it-was-still-cool.

      I should probably also use the Game Jolt client more? I need more money so I can support all the underdog platforms…

    • Xeorm says:

      So much this. I was initially talking up Impulse pretty heavily as it did much better than Steam back when Steam was getting started. Less DRM, little in the way of bugs, a good interface, everything. Such a good platform.

      Then it gets sold to Gamestop, and went downhill from there. So much wrong with it from only that decision, and made worse as Steam started to get better. What a wasted opportunity.

  19. Sniffnoy says:

    As someone who doesn’t really play PC games, can I just ask why everything seems to require one of these launchers these days in the first place?

    • BlueHorus says:

      It suits the companies in lots of ways: the programs can track players and glean marketing data, match players to games they might buy, function as DRM, function as a store where you don’t pay Valve 30% of the price…and so on and so on.

      There’s been a push-and-pull of ‘how much will gamers take before complaining too much’ regarding these programs for over a decade now, but it’s definitely in the companies’ interests to use them.

    • RFS-81 says:

      The main reasons would be DRM and harvesting advertising-relevant data, I guess. Apart from that:

      – devs don’t have to roll their own updater since the launcher handles all the patching
      – ready-made accounts that can be used for online multiplayer
      – some system to track achievements which is a thing people seem to be into
      – social stuff because everything has to do everything

      And it’s not that literally everything requires launchers. GOG lets you just download installers, though you can also use their launcher if you want. But patching without the launcher often requires you to download the entire thing again. I generally like their launcher, but I also like to have backups of my games that can be run independently of that.

      • Sleeping Dragon says:

        A good reason for game specific (rather than store/dev specific) launchers is access to settings. Seeing as PCs are not made equal the game could refuse to run on certain hardware with a certain combination of settings. Thus if those were only available from within the game the user could effectively lock themselves out of it, which is a thing that absolutely happens and can usually be solved by manually editing (ordeleting) the setting files, which has it’s own problems (e.g: you have to find the files, know what setting causes the problem and how to edit it, not everyone feels qualified to do this kind of thing and some people will just assume the game is deffective since “it doesn’t run”…).

  20. Agammamon says:

    I can’t understand why someone would go to all the trouble to build a launcher and then make no effort to entice people to use it.

    Now ask yourself why multiple publishers have done the exact same thing the exact same way.

    I mean, you’d think multimillion dollar companies would, right at the outset, look at their competitors – the people who’s lunch they want to eat – and examine what they’re doing. Instead each one rolls out their crappy platform as if its the first time anyone anywhere has done so.

    They should, IMO, offer it on multiple platforms (including their own if they insist). But they’re not doing so in order to drive traffic to their own site in order to build it up. Likely you won’t see any of your Steam purchases linked because they’ll later try to get you to keep the thing running by offering ‘free’ games – that you’ve already purchased elsewhere’ – on that platform.

    I wasn’t all that hot for FO:76 in the first place and this just ends it for me. I won’t be buying TES:VI either it looks like nor any of their other new IP. Same goes for the MS store – SoD2 isn’t getting bought until its available for sale elsewhere simply because its not worth my time to have it any place other than GoG or Steam.

    In the end they’ll lose a lot of sales – questions are whether the extra captured revenue was worth it and how much loss they’ll tolerate in the short term to get people locked into their platform in the long-term.

    • Sleeping Dragon says:

      Did they say the games would be exclusive to their platform? I understood it was only access to the beta (to be fair I don’t care for FO76, TeS VI though… maybe?).

      To be fair the big name publishers are not completely wrong in thinking that their fans will swallow making another account and using another store just to get the next release, I sometimes wonder how many Origin acccounts were created because of ME3 alone and how many of those ended up being returning customers. The problem is they either have little to no idea how to make those platforms attractive past exclusives or are unwilling to commit the resources required to wrestle a chunk of the market from Steam’s twisted eldritch appendages, and that’s despite the fact Steam’s been bleeding goodwill for a while now.

      • Nick-B says:

        I see bethesda as having a pretty big head after the massive popularity of FO and TES series. They’d be pretty strange right now NOT to try launching their own platform to both maximize their income AND break players’ reluctance to a new platform. If there is a game that will make me and or some friends grumble – but still install – their new launcher, it could very well be FO:76.

        Not only that, but if they are currently profitable even after Valve’s 30% cut, they are even more profitable with no middleman cut. It’s not just 30% more money, it’s cutting out 30% of their expenses. The NET profit after losing that expense can be many many times larger.

    • Decius says:

      If I was trying to market a Steam-killer for a major studio, I’d start by competing on price. Cut all Steam sale promos to half their current discount, and offer 10-15% off list price of a different current product every week.

      Give everyone who links their Steam profile all of your games that they already own on Steam, and once you see what they have, give them a free gift from the back catalog in a franchise that they don’t have, and 50% coupons for the rest of that series that expire in a month.

      Don’t be shy about big discounts or even free giveaways of the back library. Every week the user should look forward to getting a piece of candy from your sales platform. Put that piece of candy next to the button to preorder the next “Call of Shoot Warfare Duty Modern Guy: The Line”, with the first DLC pack free to preorders on that platform.

      Be Evil. Use the time played metrics to learn what people want; use the ingame reporting system to form a player profile. Track which of your ads they access on your launcher they click, and which of those convert. Get users to take surveys about what they like and their buying habits; reward them with hats for completing surveys.

  21. Lanthanide says:

    “It’s possible that big publishing houses might be able to negotiate a better cut for themselves, but even if they secretly haggle Valve down to 25%, that’s still a big bite.”

    I have no insider knowledge whatsoever, but I suspect big publishers probably only pay something like 10-15% to Valve. Big publishers bring many gamers to Steam, and also publishers obviously don’t need to use Steam, so keeping this charge small will help encourage publishers not to go and make their own platforms, just like Bethesda is now doing.

  22. Ninety-Three says:

    Since people are talking about password strategies, I will share mine which I think is a useful and rarely-considered way of making passwords both unique and memorable: hashing.

    Here’s a simple example: Memorize one nonsense string like iG2k3qt51. Then, take the first and last letter of the thing you’re logging into: your World of Warcraft password is WiG2k3qt51t, your Gmail password is GiG2k3qt51l, Twenty sided forums password is TiG2k3qt51d, and so on.

    If you’re really paranoid about someone obtaining two of your passwords and reverse-engineering the hashing algorithm you can use something slightly more complex in order to make what you’re doing less obvious, but the point is that by using the name of the site as a seed, you can get away with memorizing one fairly simple algorithm rather than N passwords.

    • Nick-B says:

      Heck, no need to make it a ridiculous mixed-case gobble of numbers. As XKCD pointed out a long time ago, simply having a longer password is much more secure than making it ugly. Since a hacker would have to assume a password can be nonsense – AND at almost any length – they basically have to iterate through every possibility to make sure they doesn’t miss guessing your password. At a long enough password, it becomes technically impossible at current computing speeds to ever guess a password before the heat death of our sun, let alone the time before you stop using the password on your own.

      As long as the phrase isn’t something from current (or recent) culture and made it into a password dictionary cracker list, that is. Don’t use CorrectHorseBatteryStaple, I guess is what I’m saying.

      • SeekerOfThePath says:

        Mandatory XKCD link in any password discussion: https://xkcd.com/936/

      • Matthew Downie says:

        Most of the passwords I use are required to follow some complex rule like “at least three out of these four groups: upper case, lower case, numbers and symbols”. This makes it hard for me to follow a consistent formula, or remember what formula I used for any given password.

        • Mephane says:

          Yeah, rules like that are terrible for anyone using a scheme for long memorable passwords. So you end up making some adjustment for just that site, but when you need to enter that password months down the road, of course you forgot that particular exception for their particular rule.

          Ideally passwords should only have a minimum length restriction. If a site wants to be fancy, they could add blacklisting of overly common and proven to be hacked (there are publicly available lists of these).

          But the absolute worst, the bottom of the bottom, and the one thing which utterly destroys my trust in a site’s security, will be a maximum password length. It’s not even that sites with an upper limit set the limit ridiculously low, like, WTF, 20 characters, that is not the real issue (though still stupid). The real issue is that whatever their system has implemented, proper hashing it can’t be, because the length of a hash is independent of the length of the input. Which means they probably just store the passwords in plain text…

          • Decius says:

            There HAS to be a maximum length, but it can easily be in the 1k range. An attacker that submits a string larger than the page size should just get a ‘nope’ from the hash function, not bring down a node for a long time in computer time.

    • Shas'Ui says:

      I like this technique, but if you are attempting to use encryption terms, I think the correct one would be “salting” rather then “hashing”: adding a bit of data as opposed to doing math to it. Here is a link to a Tom Scott video where he explains the Hash+Salt process.

    • Bubble181 says:

      I do a very similar thing, though I place the parts of the URL or program differently. Or at least I claim so.

      But yeah, the “memorized” part doesn’t have to be gibberish. GImanelephanthearmeroarmail and MImanelephanthearmeroaricrosoft and TImanelephanthearmeroarwentysided are all perfectly fine passwords.

  23. Jabberwok says:

    Proprietary software will always feel annoying to me, especially when it’s from the same company that made the game. Steam was initially annoying to have to use, but I’m used to it now. For the most part, I won’t bother with anything that isn’t either on Steam or DRM free. With the exception of Blizzard games, just because I’ve been using their platform for so long. I’m not sure that I have any reasonable moral grounds for this, or just annoyance at companies trying to get me to use extra software that I don’t want. Or the feeling that they’re turning what was once an open platform into a more curated experience. At a certain point, I might as well just play it on console…

    • RFS-81 says:

      What do you mean by proprietary? I’ve only heard it used as the opposite of free and open source.

      • Jabberwok says:

        Yeah, maybe not the best word choice. I meant it in the sense of exclusive, as in the owner of the IP requires the use of their other software to gain access to the product. But a better choice might have been mandatory. Of course, proprietary can apparently also mean possessive, so that fits with how I meant to use it.

  24. Hector says:

    Andromeda!

    Andromeda!

    Androooooomedaaaaaa!

  25. Dragmire says:

    Maybe Valve forces price parity with publisher’s online stores?

  26. EmmEnnEff says:

    > I know Steam keeps something like 30% of the sale price of a game[4] so I can’t understand why someone would go to all the trouble to build a launcher and then make no effort to entice people to use it.

    Steam probably doesn’t let developers sell their games directly off-platform at a discount.

    They have so much leverage as a distribution platform, they’d be fools not to try to strong-arm developers into toeing the line.

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