Just what we all need – another launcher on our PC. Ah shit, here we go again.
Xbox. EA. Ubisoft. Bethesda. Blizzard. Epic. CD Projekt Red. Every publisher and its dog is getting into having its own launcher. Hell, even Valve – with its all-conquering Steam storefront and launcher – is still technically a game developer and publisher.
Do you know doesn’t have its own launcher? Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead Redemption developer and publisher, Rockstar. Sorry. That should say “didn’t”. Rockstar didn’t have its own launcher.
Announced today on the Rockstar Games website, the new Rockstar launcher is exactly what you’d expect: it’s a launcher, for your PC, to purchase and play Rockstar’s games. What’s the incentive for Rockstar to do this? Well, the reasons are threefold.
First, there’s player retention. Take the Epic Games Store as a for-instance; Epic has been amassing a userbase with free games and exclusives, in the hope that it will keep players on its platform. It’s the same with Ubisoft’s Uplay, EA’s Origin; if you’re on a bespoke storefront, you’re not wandering off and buying other people’s games you saw through a different shop window.
Then, there’s control. CD Projekt Red’s Good Old Games store, for instance, makes a big feature of the fact its games are DRM-free, and can be played without a constant internet connection to its servers. There’s no indication that Rockstar will implement anything weird and wonderful, yet, but they can control aspects of their own platform, like the terms and conditions, cloud saves, and the requirement for a Rockstar Social Club account.
And finally, there are the financials of it all. Steam takes a 30% cut of sales revenue, leaving 70% for the publishers and developers that use the service. Epic, meanwhile, takes a 12% cut for their storefront. The first-party storefronts, however? There are no fees or cut to pay; at least, to your competitors. Obviously they cost money to develop and maintain, so they’re not exactly free, but there’s an argument that you’d rather spend that money on your own product than hand it over to a competitor.
But what’s good for Rockstar isn’t necessarily good for the punters. So what’s in it for you lot, to download and install and use the Rockstar launcher? Why, free stuff, of course!
Specifically, that’s the best GTA game – Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas – free to download and keep for a limited time. Rockstar hasn’t specified how long San Andreas will be free to play and keep, but it could presumably be withdrawn at any time.