It’s Wednesday March 18, 2020. Doom Eternal comes out in two days. I’ve watched a couple of reviews like this one, which gives me confidence that this game isn’t going to be another Bethesda-style shitshow. I guess I’ll preorder it.
I see on the Steam page that this game requires a Bethesda account. Ugh. I really hate this. You buy a game through Steam, but then then when Steam launches the game, it actually just turns around and launches another launcher that requires a different login. Microsoft did this with their infamous malware Games for Windows LIVE. Rockstar did it with their stupid Social Club. Ubisoft did it with Uplay.
I’ll say this about the Epic Store: At least they had the decency to make their own platform rather than attaching their system to Steam like a parasite.
I hate double-logins. HATE. Now TWO companies are in a suicide pact with “my” software, each of them eroding my sense of ownership and creating completely needless layers of inconvenience and risk. Now if anything happens to either company, either platform, or either account, I lose access to my very expensive video game. Maybe one of them goes out of business. Maybe, like Microsoft, they fail so hard that they decide to abandon the platform and leave the attached games in limbo. Maybe some future conflict, misunderstanding, controversy, or data breach will end with my account deleted, suspended, or stolen. It’s not likely, but that’s no reason to make it more likely. If I told you your risk of dying of cancer X was only 1 in 100,000, that would sound pretty safe, right? Does that mean that doubling the risk is fine with you?
I realize most people trust Steam these days, but Valve software and Bethesda Softworks are very different companies and there’s no reason to expect that Bethesda is going to behave like Valve just because they’re trying to run a similar service.
Let’s Make Bad Decisions for Science!
So here’s what I’m going to do: I’m going to get this game through Bethesda’s platform. I know this is not a smart move as a consumer, but I also know that if anything goes wrong I’ll be able to make lemonade out of those lemons by writing an article about it. (And since you, future visitor, are reading this article, then you already know something went wrong and now you’re here to see where it fell apart and how bad it got.)
While I’m reasonably sure this is going to be an annoying process, I have a long history of trying out the various storefronts and rating them against Steam. GamersGate, Steam, GoGMy preferred platform., Origin, UplayThis isn’t really a platform since (last time I checked) it doesn’t have a proper client. It’s just lame corporate spyware with some social-media clinginess. But Ubisoft seems to THINK they made a platform, so I’m going to include it here., Games for Windows LIVE, the Blizzard Launcher, Epic Store, and Rockstar’s launcherI think they dropped the Social Club branding? I haven’t really checked it out since they Trojan Horse-d it into GTA V. all beat Bethesda to market. Bethesda is sixteen years late to this party, and it’s worth seeing how well they did.
I download the launcher, install it, and off we go…
Is This a Launcher or a Web Browser?
The first thing I discover is that the Bethesda Launcher (BL) isn’t really a proper storefront yet. You don’t shop within the interface. You click on a game, and it kicks you out to your default web browser.
Well, that’s not an encouraging start, but fine. I dump Doom Eternal into my shopping cart and head for checkout. Once I get there…
The webpage asks for personal info it doesn’t need and has NO BUSINESS asking for. Not just my home address, but also my PHONE NUMBER?!? There is NO REASON you need that, and I already get plenty of spam calls, thanks. Also, I have zero confidence that Bethesda’s company culture of “release first, then test, then patch if the product performs well” is going to result in a robust and secure ordering system. Fallout 76 was a hilariousAssuming you didn’t pay $60 for it. circus of bugs and exploits where Bethesda used design paradigmsLike having clients able to set their own status without any checking from the server, allowing people to teleport, modify inventory, and even invisibly rob other people in close proximity. that were obsolete by the late 1990s. If that’s how they design user-facing stuff like multiplayer, then I can’t imagine how bad their software is when it’s hidden server-side.
After insisting on getting my address, the system refuses to accept it. My address has a slash in it, and their system doesn’t like that. Yes, it’s an unusual address. Too bad. This isn’t Todd Howard’s personal blog, this is a corporate storefront that’s selling shit for money. You need to build a robust system or let Valve handle the transactions. There’s no room for bush-league mistakes when you’re operating at this level. Mine is not the most difficult address a billing system will need to cope with.
Why are you asking where I live when selling digital goods? Companies larger and smarter than you have experienced humiliating security compromises in the past, and the attacks get more sophisticated every year. If your frontend is this fragile, I shudder to think how dysfunctional the backend is. Never ask for information you don’t need, because it massively increases the damage that hackers can inflict.
I feed the system a fake phone numberProtip for Americans: In all area codes, 555-1212 is a reserved number. In the old days it was Time & Temperature, but these days I guess it’s directory assistance. Either way, it’s a great number to give to creepy companies that bother you for your personal details. The area code will match your region, and you won’t be sending the callbots after a real person. and mangle my home address so the system will accept it. The fact that it is now an incorrect and invalid address is a nice bonus. That’s one less bit of my personal data getting passed around.
I head for checkout, select PayPal, and then I’m taken to the PayPal side of things where it informs me that I’m about to pay $63.59 to Digital River.
For a moment I’m worried I blundered into a phishing attack of some sort. I should be making a payment to Bethesda Softworks, or Zenimax Media. I close the window, go back to Bethesda’s sad little featureless launcher, and click on the “Buy” link again.
This time I see some tiny print at the bottom of the page. Digital River is indeed a third-party provider that’s handling the storefront.
Bethesda, you don’t even run the site yourselves? Come on. You’ll notice when you buy shit off Steam, you aren’t billed by “Uncle Bob’s Shopping Cart Frontend for Newbies.” Your launcher has no features and you didn’t build your own storefront. Why don’t you FINISH BUILDING your system before foisting it on your customers?
Why does every company feel the need to show up years or decades late, but then shove some half-baked system out the door like there’s suddenly a rush? That just creates a terrible first impression and gives you an even steeper climb in the uphill battle for market share. You’re sixteen years late. Take another year or so to make sure you get it right.
I guess this explains what the address and phone number nonsense is all about. This is obviously a cheap off-the-shelf storefront. It was designed for companies selling tangible goods, and nobody bothered to adapt it for use as a digital storefront. Not only is this a minimum-effort job from Bethesda, but they subcontracted the lion’s share of the work to a third party that also followed the minimum-effort approach. I have this fear that Digital River sub-sub contracted the job to some rando that built the system by copy-pasting code from StackOverflow.
After the transaction, you’re shown a big green download button. Don’t bother pressing it. Since this silly storefront is a webpage, it can’t invoke the launcher and thus has no way to take you back to the game you just bought. So when you hit the big obvious download button, it just downloads a fresh copy of the Bethesda launcher instead of the game. What you need to do is alt-tab back to the launcher.
However, the launcher isn’t aware of the transaction that just happened. It’s still trying to get me to pre-order the game. Also, if I click on the “PREORDER NOW” button it allows me to step through the purchase pages AGAIN. I’m able to step all the way through to the point where it sends me over to PayPal. One more click, and I give them another $63. And since this bit is on PayPal’s end, it has no way of knowing you already own the game. It will literally sell you the same game twiceAnd perhaps, many times more than twice..
Obviously I cancel the transaction, but I can’t believe this is possible.
It looks like you need to sit there for five or ten minutes before the launcher will recognize you bought the game so you can begin the download. You know, exactly how you never had to do on any other platform ever. Apologists often like to jump in and argue that I’m being unfair. “Hey Shamus, it’s not fair to compare [Crappy launcher of the week] to Steam! It took Steam YEARS to get things working smoothly.” Fair enough, I guess. But Bethesda’s launcher isn’t just behind the times by today’s standards, it’s incomplete and janky even compared to the 2004 version of Steam.
I hit the big fat PRELOAD button and get this:
Hey Bethesda: Shouldn’t you have the user volunteer their age and agree to the EULA BEFORE they buy it, not at install time? Between this and the possibility for double-buying the game, there are a lot of ways this can go very badly for the user. It seems very likely a non-trivial number of people have bought the game, saw it wasn’t available in the launcher, assumed the transaction failed, and ran through it again.
I can’t figure out if these problems are the result of negligence, incompetence, or malice. Again, this mess makes Epic Games Store look like GoG in comparison.
After seeing this disaster of a system, I find myself wondering…
Hey, what’s the refund policy here?
What if I bought the game twice? What if it doesn’t work? What if I’m too young to install the game and too honest to lie about my age? Can I get my money back?
According to the site:
It is not possible to obtain a refund for items purchased except in accordance with any warranty offered by ZeniMax or to the extent required by local law. Some jurisdictions (including Australia and New Zealand) impose certain terms and conditions on the supply of services and digital content (including in respect of refunds) that cannot be excluded. See http://www.zenimax.com/legal_terms_us. If you believe that you are eligible for a refund based on the above, contact Bethesda Customer Support.
Wow. So basically, “No refund except in the two countries where they make us.” What assholes. Being able to refund games is 100% the norm these days, and this is inexcusable given how dysfunctional the store isNot to mention their games!. Like, it should be a physical impossibility for the people who made Fallout 76 to refuse a refund. If a normal human attempted it, they’d die of shame. Valve and GoG both make amazingly stable products, but Bethesda – the poster child for bugs, instability, and negligent design – does not. Inexcusable.
Hang on, there’s another line:
Notice at the bottom is says, “[If you would like to request a refund from] the Bethesda.net Store, you may submit your request here.”
That “here” link? It just takes you to the front page of the store. No joke. From there, you can scroll all the way to the bottom and find the “Support” link in tiny print. From there, search for “Refund” in the knowledge base. Congratulations! You are now back where you started, except now Todd Howard is laughing at you.
You can link your Steam account to your Bethesda account. I mean, you can’t do it within this game launcher, but you can do it. On the other hand, I have no idea why you would bother. You might expect that if you link accounts, then Bethesda would look for all the Bethesda games you’ve already purchased on Steam, and add those titles to your Bethesda library. That just makes sense. It gives you a little starter library. From there, the strategy would be to give the user a reason to launch the game via Bethesda Launcher instead of Steam. Yes, that’s a laughable expectation with the launcher in its current state, but that’s the ultimate goal, right? I’m assuming Bethesda built this monstrosity as a way to escape paying the Steam tax. That’s totally understandable. But then they never give the user a reason to engage with the damn thing. If they’ve already paid for the game on Steam, then it costs Bethesda nothing to grant them access to it here, and it makes the launcher a little more useful.
But no. Linking accounts is just so that people playing on Steam can get their pre-order trash.
So before we wrap this up, let’s take one last look at this interface:
- Same button: A longstanding interface convention is that if you have a horizontal row of words / buttons, then these are tabs that change the contents of the window directly below them. This is Interface Design 101. But here, the “Games” tab is identical to the >> button on the left, which is to roll out a vertical panel on the left side of the screen. This panel is just a big list of all the games Bethesda has for sale, sorted alphabetically, with no distinction made between owned and unowned titles.
- These buttons open a web page: Again, these are positioned like tabs but they don’t behave like tabs and they also don’t behave like the left-most button in the same group. These just open a web page in Chrome, Firefox, or whatever you got.
- The one game I own: Here we are at the top of a vertical stack of buttons. These buttons DO act like tabs, in the sense that they change the contents in the middle of the window. This top-most button is a game I own, but the ones below it are games I don’t own. Also, that Doom Eternal icon is SUPER unhelpful. It looks more like a child’s imitation of Kanji than demonic symbols. How about a pentagram? A skull? Doom guy’s helmet? The stylized “D” and “E” from the title?
- Malfunctioning release timer: This starts off as a “preload” button. Once the game is downloaded, this becomes a timer that counts down to the release of the game. Then it becomes the “Launch” button. This is actually a good idea! I wish Steam had this feature, since I’m often unsure when a game will releaseThe release date tells you the date, but not the hour or the timezone. So some games release mid-afternoon, some release as soon as the date rolls over in your timezone, and some release when the date rolls over GMT. Kind of annoying if you’re eager to play as soon as the game goes live.. Sadly, it’s broken. The countdown timer runs normally for a while, then switches to 00:00:00:00 at random. Sometimes it turns back into a “Preload” button for several seconds, even if the game is already installed. Then at 9 hours before release it goes to 00:00:00:00 and stays there for no reason.
- A video: This is actually a fake-out. It shows a play button when you mouse over the video, as if it’s going to play when you click it. NOPE! This is another damn web link.
- More web links: Shit, is this launcher just a really convoluted way of navigating Bethesda’s web bookmarks? I don’t mind that these links exist, but if you scroll down you get MORE huge link boxes along with Bethesda’s links for Twitch / YouTube, Twitter, InstagramYes, really. and Facebook, and if you scroll past all of THAT garbage you’ll eventually reach the screenshots, game description, and system requirements. This the wrong way around. Imagine if the top of every Store page on Steam had a bunch of social media noise and news, and you had to scroll past large boxes of non-screenshot images to see basic info about what kind of game you were looking at. This stuff is literally upside-down in terms of priority.
- Hamburger menu: I didn’t mark it in the image above because the space was too crowded, but you can see a little hamburger menuThree stacked horizontal lines. in the upper left. This is the main menu. Of the nine menu options, only three are web links, and the rest are quasi-functionality. So that’s nice, I guess.
Two days later, the game finally releases. The countdown timer flaked out the whole time, sometimes working, sometimes showing 00:00:00:00. Then at launch time it stayed there, with the button still in the disabled state. I even tried switching to another game and back to see if it updated the button. Nope.
Finally I try pressing the button, even though the coloring and text clearly indicates the button is disabled. The button works, and begins unlocking the game. Whatever.
Then the launcher starts downloading 38 GB of data. What is it downloading? I already downloaded 48 GB when I bought the game. What did I download two days ago, if not the game? Is this a patch, or did it only download half the gameFor the curious, the final size of the install is 41GB.?
For comparison, Steam and GoG unlock a game automatically with a small download, right at release time. That means the game is ready to go when you are.
In Bethesda’s bizarro world, your game sits there in a locked state until you attempt to launch it. So if you went to bed on Thursday night, then when you got up in the morning you’d still have a 38GB download to wait for. Doesn’t this system sort of defeat the entire PURPOSE of a preload, by forcing you to wait when you expected to be playing, and by making sure the servers get slammed with maximum load at launch rather than spreading the traffic out over the previous week?
So we end up with buggy software, with a horrible interface, nonsensical design decisions, brazenly cut corners, and a horrible sense of entitlement on the part of the publisher that the public should just choke down this half-assed software.
It sucks, but I guess Bethesda is staying on-brand. It wasn’t what I wanted, but it was pretty much what I expected.
 My preferred platform.
 This isn’t really a platform since (last time I checked) it doesn’t have a proper client. It’s just lame corporate spyware with some social-media clinginess. But Ubisoft seems to THINK they made a platform, so I’m going to include it here.
 I think they dropped the Social Club branding? I haven’t really checked it out since they Trojan Horse-d it into GTA V.
 Assuming you didn’t pay $60 for it.
 Like having clients able to set their own status without any checking from the server, allowing people to teleport, modify inventory, and even invisibly rob other people in close proximity.
 Protip for Americans: In all area codes, 555-1212 is a reserved number. In the old days it was Time & Temperature, but these days I guess it’s directory assistance. Either way, it’s a great number to give to creepy companies that bother you for your personal details. The area code will match your region, and you won’t be sending the callbots after a real person.
 And perhaps, many times more than twice.
 Not to mention their games!
 The release date tells you the date, but not the hour or the timezone. So some games release mid-afternoon, some release as soon as the date rolls over in your timezone, and some release when the date rolls over GMT. Kind of annoying if you’re eager to play as soon as the game goes live.
 Yes, really.
 Three stacked horizontal lines.
 For the curious, the final size of the install is 41GB.
Grand Theft Railroad
Grand Theft Auto is a lousy, cheating jerk of a game.
Game at the Bottom
Why spend millions on visuals that are just a distraction from the REAL game of hotbar-watching?
Even allegedly smart people can make life-changing blunders that seem very, very obvious in retrospect.
Quakecon 2011 Keynote Annotated
An interesting but technically dense talk about gaming technology. I translate it for the non-coders.
Marvel's Civil War
Team Cap or Team Iron Man? More importantly, what basis would you use for making that decision?
173 thoughts on “Bethesda’s Launcher is Everything You Expect”
Not just the game, please don’t let anyone forget that somewhere in that shitshow of a yeah Bethesda and 76 had, was a bunch of compromised user data. Bethesda has and AWFUL track record handling your information, do not give it to them if you can ever avoid it.
Though, most of the companies and platforms mentioned a little before my quote, could probably have the same said about them. Be nice if there were some actual regulations restricting companies from datamining their customers for no other reason than they can, and that there’s precious little punishment for handling that data irresponsibly either.
As I understand it, a major section of the GDPR is that you’re supposed to ask for as little information as possible, and have a reason for any information that you do obtain. For example, obtaining your address to ship a physical good.
This storefront is flat-out illegal in the EEA and the UK. Not just for citizens, but anyone currently there.
I look forward to Bethesda coughing up 4% of their global revenue. They can’t afford the kinds of lawyers Google and Facebook have, so they lose immediately instead of wasting a few million fighting it.
Does whatever european authority tasked with enforcing GDPR actually apply these huge-ass fines yet? I was under the impression that the threat was still mostly hypothetical.
The Doom Eternal icon kinda looks like an anchor. Ironic, since the Bethesda launcher is an anchor around DE’s neck, rather than the other way around.
It’s the logo for the doom guy in Doom 2016 and Eternal. It shows up in a few different places but yeah it’s not as iconic as they treat it.
Yeah, in DOOM 2016 you see it:
– In the opening cutscene with little context, and probably forget it.
– Again on the armor’s helmet when you see it… but it’s small and easy to ignore
– Flashed on-screen quickly in some cutscenes?
It’s really quite easy to miss.
I don’t think I would ever trust Bethesda with any of my info. You’re a braver man than I am.
The world is ending, some people are going to use the opportunity to live dangerously. You can’t jump out of a plane now but you can go one step further and give your personal information to Bethesda.
Wait, is it 2011 already!? And I still had so much left to do!
The collapse of civilization.
You’ve got to give them credit for cracking their own Denuvo protection, at least.
As the people with the unencrypted game in the first place, they’re not really “cracking” the protection, just forgetting to apply it.
This hassle, customer-unfriendlyness, poor design, corporate greed, and absolute backwardsness is precisely what I predicted would keep me from buying Doom Eternal when I first heard that Beth were making their own launcher…
I am now very sad, I was looking forwards to this game and now it’s hidden behind a maze made of stinging nettles, populated with wasps, and carpetted in lego bricks… and I’m banned from wearing shoes.
These Covid-19 countermeasures are getting extreme.
Ok you got a chuckle out of me on that one.
You can get Doom Eternal on Steam.
Which still uses the Beth launcher.
Maybe invisibly, but I have Doom Eternal on steam and I’ve never seen that stupid UI.
Fair enough, I was just going along what Shamus wrote.
You do have to log into a Bethesda account to get to the main screen of the game, but it’s handled in-game, not through the launcher. I’ve never seen it before either.
I suspect Shamus assumed it will be using bethesda launcher, like ubi games usi Uplay.
As far as I know, he made a wrong assumption which led him to buy it on Bethesda Launcher.
If he bought it on Steam he would not have to deal with Bethesda Launcher and we would not get to read this rant so I am glad he did not.
It has non-mandatory login but it doesn’t any run third party software.
Did I miss a memo somewhere? ‘Cause that’s the same info Steam asks for every time I go to checkout (because I tell it not to save that). Which as I understand it is standard billing info. Unless the point is that Bethesda wanted this just to make their account, then want it again for the actual billing.
Similarly, while Steam occasionally has warnings about 3rd party EULAs, I’ve never seen it give me a EULA link before paying for the game.
I can only speak to the address. At minimum, it might ask for the number for components of your address (street number and zip code). It’s a standardized legal thing. It is also stupid, and I don’t think phone number is required (though it’s perfectly possible it is). But, like I said, legal thing. Legalizing aspects of software functionalty often has bad results.
Steam requires a full address and phone number.
The former is your *billing* address – which for the majority of people will be the same as their physical address – for CC info verification and the phone number is for . . . feth if I know. I’ve always made up a fake number (123-4567) and never had an issue that couldn’t be resolved because they couldn’t call me.
I fully expect people will have different results. It depends on where you are.
Different countries where Steam conducts business use different laws. For example businesses in Canada are prohibited from demanding unnecessary information as a condition of sale. Steam cannot ask for a phone number under PIPEDA. (They might anyway. Been a long time since I bought from Steam.) Steam could ask for a billing address though. It could be used to help authenticate if the address matches the credit card’s. A phone number could not be collected though. But somewhere else, probably Steam could demand it.
Steam ask for your phone number but do not require it. You can use and buy as much as you like without one.
I assume they would use it for one-and-a-bit factor authentication via SMS.
I assume the reason they need an address is to process the appropriate state/local taxes.
This. They’re now even demanding old-school billing information every time you use money in your Steam Wallet so they can apply the appropriate theft rates.
Aww, you’re so adorable with your callous disregard for public services.
Can’t say I’m a fan of the “Taxation is theft” narrative either, but if you’re in favour of the public good supplied by taxes, you should probably also be against the regressive and ineffective form of taxation that is sales taxes.
And that’s all I’m going to say, because this is dancing along the politics rule.
Ehh, I never really understood what’s the difference between a sales tax and a VAT, but, as far as I’m aware, practically everyone praises the latter for being efficient.
A sales tax is paid on the final, retail sale of a good. Intermediate goods (like ore going to a processor, or foodstuffs purchased by the grocer for resale) are not taxed.
A value-added tax is paid on just about every good at every step of the process, but an intermediate merchant gets a refund of the tax paid on inputs. Once it nets out, the tax is effectively applied to the difference between the final sale price and the material component cost, hence the name “value-added tax.” (For goods that cross a border, VAT is usually charged on imports and refunded/not assessed on exports.)
The tax is considered particularly efficient and is praised by economists because of its breadth (it applies widely, so applying the tax doesn’t distort purchasing decisions) and because it’s hard to dodge. Even if you can find a merchant that is willing to not charge you the tax-included price, they’ve still paid the tax on their inputs so the taxman gets (most of) their proper share without deeper levels of accounting fraud.
This was a clear and interesting explanation, thank you
Storefronts – like Steam – have been asking for this information even back in the days when online purchased didn’t pay sales taxes in the US.
Rimworld, and some other recent games I played on Steam definitely asked the EULA after the point of sale, not before. At least with Steam, I’m pretty sure you’d get a full refund, because the support-person could easily see that you have 0 hours of playtime, and you have a text-box to explain “I don’t accept the EULA, so I want this refund.”
As the site’s token console guy, I’m pretty used to post-purchase EULA’s, since I can’t really agree to it until I’ve put the disc in my PS4. That being said, I’m also that one guy who doggedly insists on reading the things to their completion (unless they end with clauses that don’t apply to me due to my location).
Steam has to know where you live so that they can remit the sales taxes to the appropriate jurisdiction. Presumably Bethesda’s third party payment provider does the same.
Except that shit applies in America, not in every part of the world. Other parts of the world sensibly say that the price advertised is the price that you pay. There’s no weird shifting arbitrary markup that’s undisclosed until checkout where I live, anyway.
So, that excuse holds no water unless they waive that question in jurisdictions or countries without such tax or markup systems as well.
Excuse me, Canada also needlessly complicates our customer/seller interaction by calculating taxes at the end. Don’t you sweep us under the rug!
 Cripes, Custom/Duties is even worse – you get it weeks/months later, from completely-unrelated companies, that don’t notify you who they’re working on behalf of, or precisely what the purchase was.
How would they know where to bill you though? Until you give them that information there’s nothing definitively giving away your billing location. Your IP has some location information, but that’s easy to get around. Legally associating a location with a purchase is the only surefire way to do it.
Even if merchants somehow added sales taxes to the sticker price pre-purchase, or kept the sticker price the same for anybody but just paid it out of their own pocket, that doesn’t change the fact that the seller needs to know what the tax even is before they can do that, a question that still depends on where precisely you’re making the purchase from.
Other places are one single nation with a powerful central government. So they can’t display that one price until they know where you live. OTOH, you know where you live, you know the sales tax rate. Its just math.
I recall having issues from some online websites where an error in my address caused a rejection because it didn’t match the address the bank that issued the credit card had on hand. I don’t think it’s universal, but I think there are places that make sure the billing address matches what the bank has in an effort to reduce fraud, if at all possible. That’s one reason why billing and shipping info are often handled differently.
I don’t know how universally true that is, though. There are some places that require address info, others that don’t. It’s weird, but it happens. So in addition to the tax information listed above, it seems to be something some places require to make sure the credit card is really yours.
Except Bethesda (or Digital River, or whoever) isn’t actually collecting Shamus’s payment info. He’s paying with PayPal–AFIK there’s no reason, legal or taxing or otherwise, why you should ever ask someone paying you with PayPal for their address if you aren’t physically delivering something to them. That’s the whole point of PayPal
Having not used both credit cards and PayPal on a variety of sites, I have no idea if there are websites that actually just take PayPal and nothing else, but naturally I’d have assumed not. I take it this is not the case and some do?
Sure there is, for a live service with money involved – Identification purposes. Address and Phone Number say you’re a person, and provides a means of proving account ownership if your account gets compromised.
Computers also have delivery addresses and phone numbers.
It proves nothing at all.
Billing address makes sense for a direct CC transaction, but not for PayPal.
The entire point of PayPal is that it hides the CC, bank account and other PII from the vendor, so they can’t do Bad Things™
I hate when people say that. I hate it so much.
E-commerce is twenty years old now. Everyone knows what a good e-commerce experience looks and feels like. Even if making an e-commerce site is hard–more on which later–it should be obvious to anyone working on one whether or not their e-commerce site is any good. Thus, if someone launches an e-commerce site that is not good, it is because they chose, for whatever reason, to launch an e-commerce site that they knew was not good. I have some small amount of sympathy for firms forced to release early by, say, financial constraints. I have no sympathy for firms like Epic or Bethesda who could have afforded to take the time to do things properly.
Also, I’m not convinced that e-commerce is hard. It’d be hard for me, but that’s because I have no background in e-commerce. But, again, e-commerce is twenty years old now. At this point there are plenty of people who do know what they’re doing. If you’re going to make an e-commerce site, why not hire some of them and bring that expertise in-house? You don’t even have to bring them onboard on a permanent basis. Consultants and contractors exist for a reason. Even if you chose your consultants or contractors poorly, as Bethesda seems to have done, you can–and should!–still use your own eyeballs and good judgment to determine whether or not to launch with what they delivered.
In short, “it took Steam years to git gud, therefore it will also necessarily also take everyone else years to git gud” is a logical fallacy and should never be used by anyone, ever.
I’m reminded of the criticisms of Origin back when it was new. “All they had to do was copy Steam, and they couldn’t even get that right.” It’s hard to make a good new experience from scratch, but it’s easy to point at an existing experience and say “Like that, but with our logo instead of theirs.” The Steam storefront is no miracle of technical innovation: throw a reasonable number of programmer-hours at the task and you too can have a functional copy of it.
100%. It wouldn’t even be hard to make a better version of the steam storefront. So many parts of the Steam Storefront are based in browser stuff anyway-the difference is they do it all with the default Steam browser to explore them-which is notoriously laggy and uncooperative. It makes Internet Explorer look enviable.
They have a feature list. They have years of feedback and marketting research. It should not be hard to implement the majority of Steam’s most important features, and do it slicker, with better performance, without having to cater to legacy software and UI. You literally get to set the standard for your own UI and make it better than Steam’s, you literally get to make software that will be a completely clean version 1.0 install at launch-there is no reason it should be worse.
Like tabs. It’s the one functionality that most every known browser has that Steam client doesn’t. It’s annoying when I’m trying to figure which DLC contains what or when I’m trying to allocate my budget during a sale and I’d like to have a closer look at several games from my wishlist.
I second this.
Have you tried middle mouse buttoning the links? It opens a new window (not of the whole client, just kind of a Steam browser page). Which specifically isn’t tabs like you’re asking for, but I find marginally better than nothing.
There’s already more than a dozen turn-key, white-label solutions for e-commerce. Now, most of them are probably designed around selling physical goods, but I’d bet at least one of them at this point, can be tweaked to work for digital games. At minimum, I they could have worked out a deal with Itch.io, to host their games, process the payments, and take whatever cut they’d negotiated. Yeah, Itch.io is focused on indies and artists, but I expect they’d allow their website to be white-labelled if the contract was good enough. Note, as an indie you can actually set the percentage that Itch.io takes, to a comically low 1% if you want. Since they allow this for any person to make use of, I’m sure Bethesda could have negotiated some reasonable percentage.
 Or at least a very-close-to-white label. I think many of these want you to have a little “powered by X” at the bottom of your site, but that’s totally fine by me, since it’s at least honest. Claiming 100% production of some software you’re only slapping your name onto seems worse to me, since if anything goes wrong, the customer doesn’t know what level of support they’re supposed to expect.
To be fair, Digital River is a standard e-commerce supplier, they are quite big. So it isn’t quite like they hired their nephew to develop the payment collection part of the system.
That doesn’t excuse anything else in this amusing analysis by Shamus though!
Yes, thank you. What those apologists don’t seem to understand is that there’s a major difference between launching a new, unprecedented service and a new brand for an existing service. When the first automobiles were launched, they were slow, uncomfortable, they required you to start them using a lever and screw you if it happened to break down, because you had to buy a whole new one. Nowadays cars have been improved several times over. There are different kinds for different purposes, they’re much faster and safer and they can be repaired in parts.
Imagine if a new car company launched these days and they decided to sell cars how they existed at their origin in the 1880s. No safety features, just as slow and in one large piece that would become complete useless if it broke just a bit. Do you think people would accept it? Do you think it could be excused by saying “Oh, when Benz created his first car it had all these problems. You gotta give them a few decades to improve!”
Of course not! You’re not supposed to launch in the state the original companies were when they began. You’re supposed to launch at least at their current state. Well, if you want to be a viable competitor, that is.
Bethesda even at their best have managed to somehow skate by with unpolished products due to the thankless work of modders and an overly forgiving consumer base. So why would you expect anything else from their proprietary launcher?
I don’t know what the corporate structure of the company is but it wouldn’t surprise me if the lack of attention to detail or quality assurance goes to the very top, which is why ‘It just works’ is so quotable. Because ‘It just works’ aren’t the words of someone who takes pride in their work and does it to the best of their ability, it’s the words of a C+ student who is only looking to minimum-viable-product their way to a passing grade.
It also reminds me of a discussion I had about Disney+. Someone was defending their lack of new content and saying that the service will improve soon. Which is cool and all, but I’m not going to pay for a service now in the hopes that it improves in the future. I wouldn’t have such a problem with everyone creating their own proprietary service if those services had anything to them beyond exclusive content.
To be honest, I would absolutely think that their launcher would be better. It’s just basic business. It’s ok to sell a defective product if you can avoid giving a refund, it’ll net you money in the short term.
You’re only pissing off the customer.
It’s not ok to make it harder to buy the game, and force the processing of refunds.
You’re pissing off your boss, and his boss, and his bosses boss, and now your job is on the line. Worse, if you’re a contractor, you’re pissing off your client-this may cost you massively in terms of sacrifices you will have to make to keep your client’s business or else burn the bridge.
3/4s of the stuff there, that’s pissing off the customer, in extremely shitty ways. Just gross, shitty ways. But making it harder to buy by forcing information you don’t need-that you haven’t correctly formatted the entry fields for-that are required fields? Bloody stupid. Just an excuse for people to pirate it or give up. Creating a system where people can perform multiple purchases? Bloody stupid. People will resent this and will not use your storefront again because it put them on the phone or email with Support-which your employer is paying people to provide. And worst of all? You are also costing the company in terms of bank fees which you will lose on the transfers processing those refunds.
90% of it is expected incompetence. 10% of it is above-and-beyond-the-call-of-duty incompetence.
Some would say that’s a bad business decision.
That’s the thing I don’t understand. Sure, I expect them to be shitty on refunds, because I expect every company in gaming to try to make it difficult for consumers to get money back (I know that not all do, or that some are better than others, but I expect it nonetheless). I expect them to be shitty in the ways that get them money because getting money is the point of being in business, after all.
But they’re also disregarding basic site functionality and UI design and ignoring all the ways, big and small, that people (and they’ve got it down to a science, they really do, with all the tiny tricks they use to psychologically nudge you towards spending money) have learned from 15 years of purchasing things online being the norm. It’s like they reinvented the wheel and managed to come out with squares while watching bicycles go past their office windows. It’s honestly staggering. Honestly. I don’t think you could see this level of incompetence from a company this size on something this visible and important outside of a parody.
E-commerce is not hard. I’m not armchair-quarterbacking here; I’m a professional programmer who did a solid three years in e-commerce specifically.
Some hard problems creep in around the edges, but that’s true of all software; the core functionality of e-commerce is so simple I almost couldn’t do it because I wasn’t able to keep my brain engaged on the task. And all this store is trying to do is that core functionality. And the parts that *are* hard are mostly around operating at scale, which you’ve got to be able to do to actually deliver the game anyway.
I once did the “accidentally double-bought a $60 game” with Origin, and you’re right – no one involved has any incentive to help you except that whole “good customer service” thing, which with EA isn’t in the calculus.
Paypal shrugged and said “take it up with EA, sucker”. I then proceeded to fire half a dozen identical email support requests into the void that was “[email protected]” over the course of a year and not once did I even receive acknowledgement that I exist, much less a refund.
I didn’t even get a second software key to gift to someone! I simply paid $130 for a single copy of Dragon Age Inquisition.
That’s brutal. At least on Steam, you by default get the option of gifting your extra copies to other people, after you’v epurchased them. I think it’s how they handled gifts, before they had a dedicated “buy this as a gift in the first place” option.
What about a refund? Origin already offered them back then.
Credit card companies are generally pretty willing to do chargebacks, I think. Though then EA might retaliate by taking away the copy you still paid for.
Ofc, then you charge back that one too. If they want to go further in retaliation, then that’s where consumer watchdogs come in, because those tend to be pretty illegal when you’re that far in the right.
Assuming you purchased with a credit card, which you always always should, you could have put a hold on the transaction. It would then be on the seller to respond. I see people with similar stories (seller didn’t provide the product, misbilled, etc.) to yours in various contexts and the number #1 solution is to always contest the charge. Otherwise, why would they care? They’ve got your money and what are you going to do about it? Hassle them with emails they can just ignore?
That’s brutal. IMO it wasn’t really even worth the $60.
I have a single game on the Bethesda Launcher, and it’s Wolfenstein Youngblood*. I guess their terrible launcher makes it harder for me to accidentally load their terrible game. Err….thanks?
(* it was a free-with-a-GPU thing. I also got Control, so I now have two more terrible launchers installed for the sake of owning a total of two pretty poor shooters. Yay.)
I also have a single game on the Bethesda launcher, and it’s Morrowind. As I think I’ve commented on here before, creating the Bethesda account was part of the giveaway. Fortunately, because Bethesda would have had to reach back into the code to integrate the launcher, I’m able to run the executable without it.
My game doesn’t even make the vertical scrollbar. Funny, that, since it’s probably better than any of them.
I also immediately thought of Blizzard’s equivalent when I saw that launcher, and that one lets you manually reorder the games on it.
I can’t remember how the Blizzard launcher looks. I haven’t fired up StarCraft (the one game I have on that platform) in a while.
I’ve used it back when Destiny 2 was on it and that was also my first association.
I gotta be honest. When I saw the title of this post, my heart skipped a beat in excitement to watch Shamus tear down another digital storefront. I’m not joking, I was literally very excited for this.
I was not dissapointed.
Also: I’m a strange person
Make that two of us! Although, as heartless as is sounds, I am a bit disappointed that he isn’t as frustrated as he was with the Windows Store.*
In order to get him up to THAT level of “pissed”, Bethesda would need to create terrible operating system in addition to their terrible launcher.
*Don’t judge me! We all enjoy a bit of schadenfreude from time to time (sorry, Shamus)…
Hey now, Windows may be slow, awkward, buggy, and all-around terrible; but at least it isn’t MacOS.
Never argue with a Linux user on the internet. Partly because platform wars are dumb and make everyone look stupid, but mostly because their WiFi will probably break half way through the discussion, and they’ll never see what you wrote.
I’d make a joke about Haiku, but it’s the cutest OS, so I’d feel like a bully.
FreeBSD is a great OS. Well-tested, technologically advanced, stable,… it would be wonderful if it had any software.
Absolutely same. As soon as I read the title I thought, “This is what I have been waiting for and I didn’t even know it!”
It should be noted for anyone talking about refunds that Steam is not exactly an exemplar in this category. They only now offer refunds because they were forced to do so in Australia and the EU, and so eventually caved and rolled it out across the board (probably only because that was less work than having two different systems). And that was only after they went to court in both cases arguing against having to comply with local laws mandating consumer refunds. I’m pretty sure their argument was something to the effect of “we’re an American company so we can do whatever the hell we want when ripping off your citizens”. Not surprisingly, some judges disagreed.
Like copying bad starting UI, you don’t get to argue your right to be original bad. You compare to the state as it stands.
I’m not excusing Bethesda, I’m saying people shouldn’t be in any way praising Valve for doing the absolute bare minimum that they were legally forced to.
It’s not praise. It’s comparison of shit to not currently shit. A comparison of a car missing a wheel to one that has all four is a mark of STANDARDS, not praise.
They’re saying that this is how the Valve platform currently functions, and if you can’t meet that bare minimum of functionality, and instead wish to create the same circumstances AGAIN which caused governments to intercede to force Valve to comply, then you are a complete incompetent.
That you shouldn’t be worse than the largest competitor on the market if you want to edge into that market.
Comparing the functionality of Steam to the functionality of the Bethesda Launcher is not praising Steam as a moral exempler. It is doing exactly what I just said: comparing them. Nobody here is praising Valve, that’s a scenario you conjured in your own head. They’re saying that Valve’s system works better at time of writing-which it flat out does.
If Bethesda want to copy Valve’s homework then they deserve the same grade. I can’t wait for them to get slapped with a hefty fine for their troubles.
On that note, I do realise it’s probably the result of them reposting legalese but is it just me or does this bit in particular “Some jurisdictions […] impose certain terms and conditions on the supply of services and digital content […] that cannot be excluded.” in reading sounds like they’re apologetically explaining why they’re forced to give refunds, like a “we know you hate it but we have to do it due to regulations.”. Which I find low key funny.
And that is why I won’t buy Doom Eternal (or, really, any game that requires a launcher any more). I am so over being treated like lobotomized cattle when I buy (and play!) my games.
You want me to use your bloated, ad-laden security risk of a launcher? Hard pass.
Put your game on GOG, or it won’t be bought by me. Do I miss out on maybe a good game? Sure. Don’t care. I have a library full of excellent titles that I haven’t yet played: Nowadays, I buy games as absolute luxury items, and you know what that means? Not jumping through hoops to get my games, or having to contend with infringed ownership rights.
Get some motherfrelling standards, games industry.
That’s not fair. Lobotomized cattle wouldn’t be able to navigate the Kafkaesque systems on display here.
This system is designed for uncomplaining cattle.
While you need a Bethesda account to play (Just a username and password), you DON’T need to use the launcher or any other nonsense like that.
I just want to point out that UPlay does function as a storefront these days. I only have it for Settlers 7, but it’ll occasionally try to convince me to buy one of their other gems *cough*. It may just take you to a website for the actual purchase, I wouldn’t know.
I don’t particularly feel the need to install any other launchers besides Steam, GoG Galaxy, UPlay, and battle.net, though.
Ubisoft’s so-called launcher is one of the biggest jokes I’ve ever seen, so the point where I wonder why anyone would put up with it. Uplay is a bloated mess with a bunch of useful functionality that actually takes away from the games on it at best, while simultaneously not offering any utility whatsoever. I used to like the odd Ubi game but I simply don’t want to put up with Uplay.
At this point I can’t entirely understand why anyone wants Ubi games anyway. Even the supposedly “good” ones are insane grindfests, and it’s slightly worrying when a company gets hammered publicly every few years for making even duller clones of the last game to the point that they have to go hat in hand to the shareholders and apologetically admit they need to retool.
I had to use Uplay when I played Far Cry 4, Assassins’ Creed: Origins and AC: Odyssey. It worked quite well with those — after launching the game it would sit entirely silently in the background, but if I wanted to use the Uplay Club store (achievement-based rewards) to get some extra game stuff, that was absolutely seamless.
On why you’d play an Ubisoft game: AC: Odyssey and FC4 have very fun gameplay in general, but atrocious writing. Origins has some really fantastic writing, apart from the main storyline — and even then, there is an element of the main storyline which is incredibly poignant yet subtle, which became the ‘main plot’ for me regardless of game’s aims. But the gameplay in Origins isn’t quite as polished.
There are a bunch of people who love Ubisoft games. In fact, the only people who hate them generally fall in one of three categories:
1. People who think they need to own ALL variations of The Ubisoft Game. Every one of them is good on their own, but get repetitive when you play them all.
2. People who own and play LOTS of games. Reviewers definitely fall into this category, so the opinion propagates. What is a tedious grind and waste of time that can be better spent playing other games to one person is dozens or hundreds of fun hours playing The Game they enjoy.
3. People who get caught in the circlejerk created by the first two categories.
I think this comes off as a bit dismissive and I’m sure I could add some reasons to the list, it all depends on what we want from our games.
That said I think there’s a bunch of reasons why you’d want to play (some variation of) The Ubisoft Game. They’re mostly kinaesthetically pleasing, they’re mostly empowering, they offer you a bunch of small activities to succeed at to make your brain drop some of them precious feel good brainstuff, they’re often pretty to explore and find stuff to look at, some completionist find it very enjoyable to have a lot of stuff to work through.
Again, it all depends on what we’re playing games for, or even what we’re playing a game for at a given time. The Ubisoft Game is something you can easily sink some time into, have a feeling of having done something without straining too much and know that there’s more to come back to. Depending on how you approach them they might be video game fast food or comfort food.
It does. Barely. Oh god, trying to navigate that thing sometimes is a nightmare. Ad once different versions of the same game come in, something that they love to do? It becomes a clusterfuck to end all clusterfucks.
So much this. Uplay is outright awful when you’re trying to find which version of the game you actually want to buy to the point where I’d be borderline ready to attribute malice to what might be incompetence.
The man knows his audience.
Come now, how else are they gonna doxx you without it?
That got me really curious, what DID you download, since you downloaded way more than the game uses?
Also, did you get the Denuvo-free version, too?
I’m curious too. If you downloaded 48 GB, how did it become 41 later? I would guess that a game would get *bigger* after download, on the assumption that it was downloading compressed files that it later expanded. Why did it get smaller? And did you ever find out what the 38 GB was? Or was it 48 for the launcher (i.e. some massive launcher update), 38 for the game, and 41 for the uncompressed game, or something equally weird? Working backwards in time somehow?
Another thing I thought might be possible, is it downloading future content updates, DLC? They did that with Fallout 4 if I remember correctly. I believe every “update” to Fallout 4 has been downloading their Creation Club content only without the .esp, and when you buy the paid mod you just download the .esp. Something like that?
I’ve had this happen with a couple Steam games too, the download says it’s X but the final install says it’s <X. Could be sequential updates that when applied are overwriting themselves.
I'm interested in why Doom Eternal is 48GB when DOOM 2016 is currently hogging *70GB* (fucking 70!), which is essentially 1/10 of a 1TB drive. The only larger install I have is Vermintide 2 (at 87), where's it all going? Even with the same graphics does this mean Doom Eternal is smaller or has fewer enemy types, a different version of smaller?
As someone currently playing Doom Eternal… I’m not sure why it would take up less space. I’m wondering if they had some optimization tricks for the files (It runs on the same software as Doom 2016 – Yay late-phase Console Generation Stagnation!) and Bethesda IS famous for its file compression, so maybe id software got some of that from a sibling studio.
But the enemy diversity is at least half again, and probably double Doom 2016’s.
IIRC they don’t use Megatextures anymore, and it’s Vulkan-only so presumably the OpenGL and DirectX parts of the engine vanish.
While the code changes are probably tiny, it may mean they previously had to provide multiple sets of textures or other model data.
Textures, esp. normal maps are often HUGE.
With Steam I think you mean when it tells you it’s going to need “X” amount of space for the game but on the download screen proper it’ll actually already show less. As in, it first tells you that it’ll need, say, 20GB but already the actual download screen will tell you it’s only getting, say, 12GB. I *think* this might be with a big overhead in case the game needs to do some upacking or something though I have no idea if it’s somehow applied automatically or determined by whoever is handling the storepage for a given title.
Yeah, I remember Payday 2 being notorious because it would double the space it took whenever it updated since it had to unpack itself again.
Fair point, I could be remembering backwards. I’ll have to write it down at each stage or something next time I install some stuff.
I have read somewhere that Doom Eternal doesn’t use megatextures anymore, which take a lot of disk space.
I just downloaded Divinity Original Sin 2 on my Surface. I had to have 62 gigs free to install. After the install the folder only took up 38 gigs of hard drive space? Why did I need the other 24 free if the default save option is going to be the cloud as well?
Somewhere to unpack.
A lot of installers decompress everything onto disk, then run a load of scripts to install the parts your particular platform and licence supports.
Some of them even delete the temporary files afterwards, though this is less common – have a look in the Disk Cleanup Wizard, check the size of your temps now…
FWIW, Digital River is an established pant that runs the back-end billing side of digital commerce for large corps. They used to run it for Wizards of the Coast on the previous 2 generations of their digital offerings for D&D, for example (they might still; I don’t know). Their target market seems to be companies that don’t want to handle the complexities of multi-state and multi-country sales overhead, which seems reasonable to me, since it’s a middle-layer Dante-style hellscape of Canada, should, must, and must-not for taxes, fees, etc.
In related news, I held off BL3 until last week to avoid the Epic store, and so far I still like that decision.
Pant? Please let this be a real term of art or bit of business slang. If it’s only a typo or auto-correct run amok, I’m going to be very disappointed.
Digital River should be established enough to handle the back-end billing invisibly at this point.
And it almost certainly is. (Though I notice them when I have to approve script sources – I have my browser locked down hard.) The failure is almost certainly on Bethesda’s side. Digital River should have never been visible to the user if the store designers were competent.
But this should still be somewhat lower of a feature priority than knowing what you already own. That’s the primary reason for having a freaking account with a store! Allowing you to buy twice without telling you, then not offering refunds – that’s just Pure Evil.
Yes, but WotC’s digital offerings are… questionable.
They also handle ArenaNet’s billing (Guild Wars/Guild Wars 2)
When they decided digital goods should be taxed, asking for an address became the norm. You might not notice if you use Paypal, which already includes an address, and systems like Steam don’t directly ask for an address if you’ve chosen Paypal as you payment method. Clearly, this barebones, basic template system isn’t that deep, so it asks for an address even if you’ve chosen Paypal as your payment method.
Anyway, I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: this only happens because people allow it. And people only allow it because they’re fucking idiots. Nothing against you, Shamus, I know you pretty much have to buy these games as your job, but I cannot have any sympathy for people who still, to this day, decides to purchase Bethesda products because they want to. People need to start getting some self-respect and not let companies trample them and using them as doormats just because they let them play some games. It’s even worse with a company like this, that sometimes won’t even let you play the games because their servers crap out or because they just don’t work until a fan comes and fixes them.
I’ve had my fill of this. The relationship between consumer and creator has to be that of a symbiosis. We pay them for their products and in return they give us a working product. And if it doesn’t work they have to have the decency of fixing it or giving us our money back. I no longer support companies that treat me as if I was the only one who had to put an effort in the relationship.
The worst part, of course, is that some consumers actually believe that to be the case and will defend these companies when they treat them like dirt. And they insult you and ridicule you if you dare to complain about not getting that which you rightfully deserve.
I love videogames. They’re my favorite past-time. But I’m not gonna let them control me.
I wanted to try some Rockstar games but deliberately stopped because they required a separate account. I very specifically don’t want the online mode, online elements, or any similar thing in my game, so chose not to play their games since they will let me buy them but not actually play them without an account. If it’s not online, I refuse to do that anymore.
I gave up completely on games requiring an online login after buying the complete version of Dragon Age 2, and having to log in to Origin about 3 times over to activate all the DLC. (It didn’t help that it was a really terrible game once I finally got it running.)
Jim Sterling did a nice video a bit ago about that customer-company relationship. Basically that it’s an unhealthy relationship, as it stands, and that the word ‘consumer’ is a bad one to use, because its attendant or symbolic meanings reinforce a disrespectful dynamic. Symbols like pigs at a trough, for example, consuming without comment whatever is dumped in their trough.
Also other stuff, like how the idea of the steady stream of content being consumed erodes further the idea of game ownership. Stuff like that, I reckon you’d like the video anyways. Here tis: Darth Vader cos y not
I once Refunded a Ubisoft game I bought through Steam because it tried to force me into creating a UPlay account. I’m considering just pirating a copy of DOOM Eternal rather than buying it because I don’t want Yet Another Fucking Login for a software company I’ll maybe buy two games from.
Power to the Pirates, it’s the way we show to the game-makers that (A) your product’s fine but (B) we’re sick of your other shit.
Wouldn’t sending an email to the company achieve the same result but legally?
Battle.net launcher also has all the blizzard games on the left side of the screen even if you dont have them. I think its to create this “blizzard family” sense in that you get locked into their walled garden of games. That and when they have some kind of free week or big update for a game they can make the icon glow. So people that do not own the game can click on it and get sucked in.
Yeah, I was just thinking that launcher looks almost identical to BNet. Of course, the buttons in BNet actually do things within the launcher instead of booting you to your browser (except the links next to the video, since those are actually supposed to be website links and I would not want to view them in some crappy built-in browser anyways). And of course you can actually purchase games directly from the BNet launcher and when a game you preordered releases it is more or less ready to play at that point.
(Fun bonus fact: In the BNet launcher they used to embed video links to twitch channels where that game was being played, like if a big SC2 tournament was on. The streams would *autoplay* every time you opened the tab for that game, and the only way to disable this was to go into your firewall and block the BNet client from contacting Twitch. I don’t know if they still do this, I haven’t seen one of their blocked videos in the client for awhile.)
Looks like they stopped that.
Steam’s pulling this “autoplay some livestream I give zero fucks about and refuse to even have a button to properly close it” bullshit now too. Great way to try and make me leave the page of a game I was interested in.
There’s an ingame login. It doesn’t launch or download a separate launcher. You went to all this trouble for no reason.
EDIT: Also it doesn’t actually require you to own the game to login. My brother could play the game on his steam account through family share. Plus if I understood Jim Sterling’s review correctly, the servers crapped out when he started the game and couldn’t connect but he still seemed to be able to play.
I think that bit was basically an excuse to roast the Bethesda launcher.
Then what the hell is the purpose of the server connection at all?
Achievement type stuff. Without an online connection you won’t get doom xp to boost your doom level, which unlocks new skins and icons!
That may sound like sarcasm but it’s 100% true.
“Is This a Launcher or a Web Browser?”
It’s worth noting that the Steam Client storefront is also a web browser. If you open it up and right-click you get a browser context menu with “back”, “forward”, etc.. Choosing “copy page URL” will then give you a perfectly ordinary URL that you can paste into your browser of choice to open up the same store page there. Steam is just smart enough to know that when you click on a link you want to open that link in the browser you’re currently using, not in some other browser.
GOG Galaxy probably does the same thing, but it doesn’t have the right-click menu so it’s not as easy to tell for sure.
It’s also the biggest place to improve on Steam. If your browser was more lightweight and speedy than Steam’s, which some, like Origin(Not to praise Origin, before some nitpicker decides that’s what I’m doing there), actually are, then that’s a selling point. People buy more games when they can easily navigate the storefront and add games to their cart.
Steam is at least a decent web browser that shuts itself down, as is Epic.
That Bethesda thing looks like it’s yet another stupid Electron, the cross-platform solution for companies who don’t give a damn about security or their users.
Worse, it’s clearly based on one of the sample projects…
As it will never, ever be updated, is installed in the ‘user’ folder and has direct Internet access, hard-coded certificates and credentials it becomes a permanent security hole for every single one of your users. Any internet nasty can immediately replace the Electron app with whatever it likes, with no user interaction needed at all. So much for UAC.
(Electron does have a self-updater system, but it relies on companies actually doing that)
Oh yes, and it also eats all their CPU time (and because it’s Chromium, by default their GPU too).
Just what you want for a game launcher.
Discord and Teams are the same – look in the install location (usually inside %LOCALAPPDATA% on Windows). If you see “squirrel.exe”, it’s Electron.
Looking at that interface makes me want to knock some teeth in. Even just letting my eyes skim it I could feel Bethesda’s filthy fingers digging for my wallet. “You bought one of our games, would you like to buy these other ones?”
Finding out they make me create an account with them to play Doom Eternal has put me off buying Doom Eternal. I’m seriously thinking about just pirating the fucking thing now, despite having really enjoyed the 2016 DOOM. Their atrocious handling of absolutely everything around Fallout 76 has instilled so much distrust in me that I wouldn’t even confidently hand them a Punishment Rock.*
*Punishment Rock: An instructional tool used in the education of people who lose things. Example: Private Bloggins loses his night-vision goggles, a very expensive piece of equipment. Bloggins is given a twenty-pound rock with the words “night vision goggles” written on it to teach Bloggins the virtue of keeping track of shit.
Bethesda would probably manage to break the rock, misplace half of it, claim the rock was exactly as-given, and then suffer a rock-related occupational injury after mistaking the rock for lunch.
You’re wrong about Bethesda.
They’d somehow figure out how to set the rock on fire…..after losing it in the ocean.
And then claim “It just works”.
‘Don’t worry, the modders will eventually carry this rock for us. We’ll just leave it lying here.’
…and the modders actually do, except they keep handing the rock to each other as they get tired (or split it into a bunch of smaller rocks and craft them into pretty sculptures, useful tools and erotic toys), and they brought a bunch of friends along for the walk and generally the group is having a lot of fun with the whole endeavour (except when some people start fighting about whose erotically sculpted part of the rock is the best), which doesn’t change the fact Bethesda did not do the lifting it was assigned.
We’re getting a surprising amount of mileage out of this…
Suddenly, Bethesda notices the fun that the modders are all having with the Rock.
‘Wait a minute…they’re doing that for FREE!’ Someone on the board cries.
So Bethesda decides that the things made from the Rock should now cost money. ‘Don’t worry, though’ They say, ‘We’ll give you 15% of the money we earn from selling the things you make out of our Punishment Rock.’
The Rock community is rapidly split over this decision. Some money is better than no money, after all, so some Rock-carvers sign up happily to the Paid Punishment Rock system, and earn their 15%.
Others are offended by the idea, and refuse to sign up. They want a bigger cut, they say, or they think that being paid is against the spirit of carving.
Arguments also break out over who earns what, as Rock Carvers sometimes collaborate and its unclear who actually deserves the 15% cut.
There are arguments for and against the system, but mostly, the old system of Rock carving is disrupted and the carvers don’t work together in the same way at all. Not to worry, though – the important thing is that Bethesda gets to make money out of other people making things out of their Punishment Rock. This money is then spent on improving future games*.
by buying Bethesda board members Company Assets, such as hookers and cocaine, naturally
To their credit, Bethesda DOES give far more tools to help their modders sculpt the rock into the sculpture they want it to be, far moreso than any other game. But the freedom and extensiveness of the modding of the game really is a quality of its own.
Oh absolutely, they’ve been cheered for this a lot and it has extended both the appeal and the longevity of their games ridiculously. Until the point Bethesda forgets that that’s a big part of the product they deliver and we get FO76*.
*And then people find out it’s sorta possible to mod it anyway, but in a wrong way.
Well, webpages can have special links to call applications installed on the computer (I think it’s supported by Chrome and Firefox). For example if you’re connected on Steam, you can launch games and start downloads: when you click the link (which will look like this: steam://run/9450) in the browser, the browser will pop a window asking a confirmation and then Steam will launch the game/start the download. I’ve seen it working with some torrents too (magnet links I think? It’s been years since I used that)
So funny, I was about to post this as well.
It’s a common practice to install an app as a URL-scheme-handler in the host OS, so any URL encountered is checked against available handlers, so e.g. your browser is registered as the handler for “http” schemes, apps can register arbitrary schemes in the system as well.
This is used extensively in mobile apps as a way for web content to “talk” with the application it might be embedded in.
A hard question; What exactly should I expect from Doom: Eternal that I’m not already getting from Warframe?
I remember the purity of the fight in Doom 2016. Melee gunning, dashing around like a murder hornet, plugging heads repeatedly with buckshot. Occasionally I’d have to resort to abstract thoughts like switching weapons or using a grenade. It was the Red Zen, the Crimson Ablution. Mick Gordon beat the rhythm, and I danced the Dance of Blood.
Now I hear you have to worry about ammo and charge a blood punch and shoot a flamethrower and use a wrist blade and hunt down collectables and unlock progression points and deal with something called a marauder. It doesn’t sound like the Red Zen. It sounds like WORK. Work you have to pay sixty bucks and leave your personal data twisting in the wind to get.
Meanwhile, I’m frequently taking Valkyr Prime with a big sword to the Grineer’s Kuva Fortress. I sail overhead and slam down, hew through their marines and turrets. I block their gunfire and radial knockdowns, answer back with bifurcating strikes. I use no abilities, no guns, just a greatsword. There are no thoughts, no puzzles, no tactics. There is only the flying blur, the hewing blade, the choral screams, the flowing Red Zen.
Doom was special. DOOM was a nice surprise. Doom Eternal looks like just another shooter that looks nice, but I’m not really interested in making time for. Maybe I’ll by it on sale this Christmas if there’s nothing else going on and they patch out the Bethesdanet stuff. Scarlet Spear just dropped on Warframe, Empyrion is putting out alpha 12 next month, Satisfactory is coming to Steam at some point soon, X4 Split Vendetta DLC and Mount & Blade 2 early access are due on the 31st, Trials of Mana is nearly out, and I still haven’t finished Nioh. There are just too many video games to fret over any one of them, even a Doom.
“A hard question; What exactly should I expect from Doom: Eternal that I’m not already getting from Warframe?”
A rock-solid action shooter that you can beat in a weekend instead of leaving you endlessly grinding crappy stealth and Archwing missions on a Star Chart?
Apologies if that comes off as snide. I like Warframe well enough, but I’d say banging my head against the same few problematic missions for story progression over and over again was more work than I’ve thus far experienced in Doom Eternal. DE feels like it has a consistent (if intensifying) rhythm throughout, whereas Warframe feels like I’m sailing on a buttery-smooth, high-speed ship that frequently beaches itself on islands of frustration.
Yeah, genuinely don’t see the comparison between the two games. Warframe is a third person shooter with a heavy focus on time investment for the sake of grinding. What it does well is make that grinding mostly seamless because the gameplay works. However, it is an infinite content delivery platform where you WILL see part of the map reused at some point, and then wait months for new story content, and longer for new mechanical content.
Doom is an FPS which is much more intense. Your red zen dude above? You never get that in Warframe lol, what are you on. You play Doom at a high difficulty, you’re running the edge of a knife, constantly lacking health but just staying ahead of things and it’s all the more awesome for it.
In Warframe, you play it at the highest difficulties? Even your meta build find things spongy.
Doom is a game with crafted content that you’re looking to play through to completion of a story mode, and then potentially replay for collectibles or to bump up the difficulty. Really absurd comparison.
If you’re saying that the progression stuff makes the game worse, sure, it might. Why are you comparing it to a game that FORCES YOU TO WAIT 3 DAYS TO COMPLETE A NEW SUIT, OR A DAY FOR A NEW WEAPON, AND SENDS YOU BACK TO THE INDEX TO GRIND PERIODICALLY FOR CASH? Like, that is a problem that Warframe has, times 30.
I still love the shit out of Warframe, but jesus. It’s an incredible MMO. It’s not an incredible substitute for an FPS, and certainly not for the likes of the new Dooms.
Oh man, the Marauder is the fucking worst.
Every time I’d see one I’d go “Oh shit, here we go again”.
He takes forever to kill, he no-sells all your “fuck this, I’m done with you now” weapons (including the minigun, the chainsaw, the BFG, and the Ultimate Sword of Ultimateness), he can easily lock you in a pattern where he drains all your health and you never get an opening, and you never really get the chance to just unloads a deluge of ammo on him the way you can with other enemies.
Remember that BFG-10.000 trailer that ended with the Marauder showing up, and the Doom Guy getting his sword out? Well, what would happen next is the Doom Guy immediately puts his sword away (the Marauder is immune to it), pulls the super shotgun out, and spends the next 10 minutes playing peek-a-boo, waiting for these 0.2s windows when the Marauder lowers his shield and charges at you so you can shoot him.
Seriously, that game would have been 20% better if they’d removed all Marauder spawns past the initial boss fight.
Microsoft still does it.
I get that too. I live . . . not out in the sticks but not too far from them. My street is, literally, ‘Avenue A 3/4’ – ie, the road three quarters between Ave A and Ave B that was added in years after those two and there wasn’t enough of an impetus to give it a name like ‘maple’ or something. Tons of forms, for some inexplicable reason, deliberately exclude characters. I don’t know why.
Couldn’t have named it Avenue AB?
That wouldn’t leave space for Avenue A 1/2 and Avenue A 1/8
I’m coming back to this late but there’s an Ave A and 1/4, A and 1/2 too. And its not just here. Same between B and C, C and D, etc.
And those are N/S streets. My E/W cross street is ‘County 16 and 1/2’
I want to make a Hogwards joke, but you must have heard so many of those by now, you’re probably really sick of them.
Especially since, in the United States, ratings have no legal power in the US. An AO game can’t be sold to someone underage because there’s a separate, very real, set of laws governing adult content in the US. So, in a place where those ratings *do* have legal force behind them, *selling* the game is the offense, not possessing it underage. You can’t sell a teenager a case of beer and tell him ‘now don’t drink that!’
So, in the places where you can’t legally sell the game to people under 18, you would want to verify that before the sale. Everywhere else its irrelevant.
And the best part about the whole thing?
The launcher is a year old
They’ve had it in a release format for 13 months now. This is what it is after 13 months of operation – in a worse state than the Epic store was at opening.
I mean, if you’re gonna half ass something, might as well half ass for as long as possible…..
Whoa, whoa, whoa. Whoa. What’s this stuff about testing? What language is that word, anyway? Are you speaking Sanskrit?
Is that that thing that fans of the game do for free, after they’ve bought the game from us?
Isn’t that engagement? Oh, no — they pay us more for engagement. Man, publishing games is hard.
Pass me another cocaine sandwich.
Like they did with Fallout 76?
At this point in time, I don’t know why anyone expects anything coming directly from Bethesda to be “finished” before release.
Hey Shamus, fun fact about the Bethesda Launcher version of Doom Eternal; apparently, if you buy the game directly through the Bethesda Launcher, it literally just downloads an unprotected .exe file. Oh, Bethesda added their DRM to the game (I believe it’s Denuvo-based), it’s just that they forgot to put the DRM’d version into the Bethesda Launcher download. So, uh, at least you can just copy-paste the .exe onto someone else’s computer if you, uh, feel the need to to that? (cough cough not advocating for piracy cough cough)
That’s been patched out. Its amazing what the developers under Zenimax can get done when it comes to preventing people from getting something for free.
You can probably get it from your friendly local pirate though.
Yup, I’ve seen some people be so surprised by it that they were sure Bethesda was releasing some kind of broken version of the game to poison the pirates’ well, like that Arkham game that had a purposefuly broken gliding section, But of course now that it’s out it’s gonna stay on the internet forever (or however long AAA torrents keep nowadays) with no work from the pirates whatsoever. Considering most everybody admits that the purpose of DRM nowadays is protecting the game in the initial sales period right after release… good job!
I imagine the executives at Bethesda are on the same level as the executives in The IT Crowd.
Digital River is at least a bit reputable as they handle most (all?) online purchases for Microsoft. I’ve never had an issue with them.
The address/phone request might be for the credit card… which doesn’t matter if you use paypal, but if you paid directly with a credit card it will sometimes check address/phone number with the bank.
The online payment processor I’ve had repeated problems with is 2checkout who handle quite a few companies including specifically Nero. The sheer effort I had to put in to get a refund when they obviously screwed up and sold me two subscriptions on the same email account was crazy. Paypal and Nero told me to talk to 2checkout. 2checkout told me to talk to Nero. Weeks passed. Finally Nero refunded my money directly, although still insisting it was 2checkout’s fault.
Also, “over 18 years or older” is from the Department of Redundancy Department.
No, no, someone who’s older than an over 18 is what we call a super adult! That’s, like, so much better than regular adult.
Wow, thanks for the warning. I thought I’d pick it up at a sale, but seems like I’ll be just skipping it instead. As usual, the pirates get the better deal: Jumping through hoops and finding a crack and hoping your PC goes not get infested with a virus seems like the much better choice than jumping through hoops to make the game run and knowing your PC gets infested with a privacy invading piece of malware.
About the same risks, except one asks for money to steal my data.
Ok, Shamus, now I want to see an in depth retrospective on your experience playing AdCap!.
“I see on the Steam page that this game requires a Bethesda account. Ugh. I really hate this. You buy a game through Steam, but then then when Steam launches the game, it actually just turns around and launches another launcher that requires a different login. Microsoft did this with their infamous malware Games for Windows LIVE. Rockstar did it with their stupid Social Club. Ubisoft did it with Uplay.”
The UI of Beth Launcher is shit, but if you hover over the buttons that open a webpage, you see a tooltip before clicking:
The scummiest thing about bethesda launcher is that they added all their games to my favorites so that I would see them in the games list, even though I do not even own them. I had to manually remove every game from favorites.
And now for the plot twist – Bethesda does not do it with Bethesda Launcher. I think Shamus assumed it does, without checking.
This is probably not what you want to read, Shamus… but you should have know better.
Don’t preorder, don’t support shitty storefronts. No exceptions.
Just more reasons why PC gaming is trash. I used to play only on PC. I didn’t have a problem with StarForce, I was even a rather early adopter of Steam before HL2 came out. I was swapping discs when I wanted to play a different SecuRom infested game.
I even had the Rockstar Club for a while, although that was getting me nervous already.
But geez man look at all this shit. Games aren’t worth this hassle.
I’ll rather play through the worst of GOG’s catalog rather than jump through these retarded hoops no matter how good the game may be.
Consoles are getting worse too but at least if you buy a single player game on disc, you can still just pop it in and play. Well, mostly at least.
In case you weren’t aware the Bethesda launcher has been around for at least 4 years. It’s not some brand new thing. I had a friend trying to play Elder Scrolls: Legends back then, when you could only play it through their launcher, but the launcher looked like this for her:
So I had to install it and walk her through where the buttons to launch the game actually were. It was hilarious.
Sad too, Elder Scrolls Legends was pretty good but was already dead by the time they put it on Steam cuz no one wanted to use the Bethesda Launcher.
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