Tag Archives: uplay

[E3 2019] Subscriptions and Nintendo’s Strong Off-Beat Momentum

Notice: SpaceEngine actually came out on Steam Early Access this past week. I reviewed it for Indie Game Website. https://www.indiegamewebsite.com/2019/06/11/spaceengine-early-access-review/


A lot of people seem to be saying Nintendo won E3 2019. I don’t like getting into press conference wars, but if Nintendo did do better than Microsoft, Electronic Arts, and Ubisoft (not to mention Sony not even being at E3 this year), it was probably because it’s in the middle of a hardware cycle rather than approaching the end of one. Developers working on Switch are hitting their stride now where they’re familiar with the hardware, whereas everyone working on PlayStation and Xbox is getting ready for big technological shifts. Once again Nintendo turned the failure of the Wii U into a strength for the Switch. Nintendo was also just about the only company at E3 not talking about subscription or streaming services. Continue reading

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Will Discord and Twitch Succeed Where Origin and UPlay Failed?


I had a blog post about Discord and its competition with Steam (along with other PC gaming services) ready to go that I’d written on Tuesday… and then on Thursday Discord went and announced it’s actually going to sell games.

Back in 2014 I did a post comparing Origin and UPlay to Steam, primarily through why each PC game launcher was created in the first place, and how that affected the current status of each one. Steam started as a way to facilitate the installing and patching of games, Origin as EA’s personal game launcher, and UPlay as Ubisoft’s customer loyalty program. To this day, people primarily install Origin and UPlay just to boot up EA’s and Ubisoft’s games respectively. That in itself is fine. Blizzard’s Battle.net gets away with it, Fortnite gets away with it, Minecraft gets away with it. Those services juts aren’t ever going to come close to competing with Steam.

Discord found another way to get onto millions of computers: as a chat app and a universal game launcher. Continue reading

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A Little Bit On Secondhand PC Game Keys

A story that’s going around a little bit right now centers on some stores that focus on reselling activation keys for some PC games without any of the money going back to developers. It’s basically like the used game conundrum but for PC games. There also questions of how the stores obtained the keys. This is actually a subject (or is at least related to a subject) I wanted to write a paid feature about for a while now, but it just never got off the ground. I think here I can at least talk a little bit real quick on what I discovered about second hand keys for people who still don’t know. Continue reading

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Booting Up Modern Games “Naked”


Things happening in my life have kept me from starting The Witcher 3 despite having acquired it last week, and I probably won’t be able to start it until around a week from now. The process of getting, installing, and booting up the game however has become somewhat nostalgic. I bought a GoodOldGames key, download it (and all the relevant supplementary material) through a browser, installed it, and just booted the game up. In today’s world of perpetually connected games it’s a novel experience to simply install a game and play it, by itself, straight from the Windows desktop without any service or community intruding on the experience. Continue reading

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Do We Have To Have The DRM Talk Again?!


Basically every argument I could give on DRM for PC games has already been repeated many times, and this crap persists. Admittedly we’re probably a long way from big corporations getting past this, but I think it’s still worth lamenting. Continue reading

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Why Do People Dislike Origin And UPlay?

It’s pretty obvious at this point that Steam is the most popular distribution client of PC gaming, but from time to time you hear concerns about how ubiquitous it’s become at the expense of competing clients. Every once in a while I also have experiences that remind me just why most people would rather get their games on Steam than anywhere else on PC.

The two most notable direct competitors are Origin and UPlay, from big game publishers EA and Ubisoft respectively. A lot of people dislike those clients and others wonder why. The most straightforward reason is that Steam is far more feature-rich as Valve has been at it for far longer than the other two companies, which I guess isn’t fair to them. EA and Ubisoft have every right to compete with Valve, but if they’re going to do that they have to actually compete. Let me go through some recent experiences I’ve had installing games outside Steam.

After downloading Splinter Cell Blacklist from UPlay (which came free with my graphics card last year), I had to then install the game as a separate process. After that, upon booting the game an auto-patcher showed up and had to download the 1GB 1.0.1 patch. Then because of an error with that particular game I had to separately download and install the 1.0.2 patch from the web like I was back in the FileShack era. It’s as if UPlay simply downloaded the retail setup files instead of how Steam automatically installs the latest build of a game.

A lot of people have had problems with Origin but it actually isn’t quite that bad. It at least auto-installs and auto-patches games (even if the auto-patching happens after installation). Origin just doesn’t really do anything that Steam doesn’t.

One feature of Steam I really hope Origin and UPlay one day adopt is a backup utility. Some of the games I’ve recently downloaded are around 20GB each. I can tell Steam to backup an installed game on a disc or hard drive so I never have to download the whole game again. It’ll even split the files up to fit on DVDs or CDs. It’s technically possible to do this with Origin and UPlay games, but requires some trickery.

I think a big part of the difference between Steam, Origin, and UPlay is the original reason each one was made.

Steam is mostly known today as a store, but Valve originally designed it as an auto-installer and auto-patcher. That’s why today the process of acquiring and playing a game on Steam is pretty much just buy-download-and-play. It’s far easier than installing a retail disc which is why I’ve actually re-bought games on Steam on occasion.

UPlay on the other hand was originally a rewards and loyalty program for Ubisoft games, then a DRM program, then a store. That’s why the actual process of installing a game from UPlay seems like an afterthought compared to its other features. Again, Origin is at least sort of okay in comparison, but it doesn’t really have any advantages against Steam either. And that’s what other stores are going to need to compete — unique advantages.

The only reason most people install Origin is for exclusive games like Titanfall and Battlefield 4. The only reason most people install UPlay is because it comes with some of the games they buy on Steam or got for free with a GPU. How many people actually go out of their way to buy games on Origin or UPlay that are also available on Steam? I’ll admit Origin has had decent sales in the past. I got a half-off copy of Tomb Raider there a few weeks after that game came out, but only because it was a Steam key.

UPlay probably has some potential if it could leverage its loyalty program more aggressively. Give people opportunities to spend UPlay points, and maybe attach UPlay points to non-Ubisoft games. Just look at how far Valve has come with the Steam Market. EA set up a roadmap for Origin features back in 2011 with interesting things on it but it’s about two years behind that schedule. Right now I see EA and Ubisoft as stagnant in those areas though, likely because their PC game clients don’t occupy their entire business.

An example of a good competitor would probably be GoodOldGames. For starters GOG doesn’t compete 100% directly with Steam, instead carving out its niche of DRM-free classic and indie games and getting them to run well on modern operating systems.  Then there are the digital extras that come with every GOG game. To be fair, I also haven’t had problems with GameFly’s PC download app (which has some games that aren’t on Steam).

It is pretty impressive how quickly Steam has pulled so far ahead of its competition, but in my opinion a lot of that is because of how slow some of that competition has been.


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