Don’t get me wrong, I love the fact that I can simply fire up my PC and head over to either Steam or Origin or GoG.com or Uplay or Greenmangaming or any number of online digital distribution sites to get my PC game carving taken care of. However what I have an issue with is the fact that while there are any number of major outlets for getting digital games for the PC there’s still an issue of fragmentation. In other words when you pick up a game this day and age it’s a sure bet that it’s going to be in the form of a code that you can use over at Steam, Origin or Uplay and that’s not even mentioning the proprietary download systems (e.g. Amazon or GameStop).
Steam is leading the pack… for now
Most download codes you will work on Steam, however there are the exceptions – and they’re growing because other companies want their piece of the digital distribution pie. One prime example is EA’s Origin platform; you can safely assume that any major title coming from that house is going to appear exclusively on Origin – the latest i, i or even i 2. The last EA game released on Steam was back in 2011.
And don’t even get me started on that bastard of a service, Ubisoft’s Uplay. I swear it’s just as bad or maybe even worse than Microsoft’s Games for Windows (Is it dead yet?). Why? Well in the case of Ubisoft games you can buy and redeem them on Steam or Origin but in order to play them you still need to create a user and log into Ubisoft’s pain-in-the-ass DRM authentication service. That’s right, you get to launch the game from one system only to be forced to log into another system to play the game. Seriously. If it wasn’t for the fact that Ubisoft still makes some decent and worthwhile games I would take a pass and boycott them altogether. If they had to choose between either removing their titles from Steam and Origin and making their titles exclusive to Uplay, I would have rather they gone the latter route and saved me (as well as everyone else) some frustration.
Seriously? I have to launch Uplay after I started my game in Steam?
All of this is a huge pain for PC gamers
In one corner I got Steam all nice and pretty, able to launch the majority of games right in Big Picture mode. But if I want to play any recent or worthwhile EA title I have to now fire up Origin while Steam is still running or close it out to play my game or even it’s even worse if I want to playChild of Light or Rayman Legends on either Steam or Origin only to be forced to launch Uplay in the end. Argh, I can almost see why people end up using a hacked / cracked executable to play their games, and you know what – if they paid for the game who the hell cares?
Ways around distribution overload
There are workarounds, Razer Game Booster, Xfire or even the Windows 7/8 built-in Game Explorer, though they’re all a far cry from having one unified distribution channel, something I wish the PC gaming market would emulate from its console brethren.
Consoles have such a simple life, don’t they? It’s either Xbox Live or PlayStation Network, nothing else. No forced parlay into another DRM system, no issues on being able to buy a specific game on either system because it’s an exclusive (unless it’s a system exclusive that is) and no headaches from purchasing of the game to startup.
What the PC needs is one unified system
One that launches all games, tracks all achievements and lets you look-up other gamers regardless of platform. High hopes? Pretty much; this is something that the PC will possibly never have, despite this being perhaps the PC’s biggest shortcoming.