I’ve spent more time this morning talking on twitter than actually working on a blog post. I’m still very much in that state where I am fighting something… be it a cold or something worse. The hammer has not quite slammed down on me, but I feel like I am on the cusp of really getting sick. My wife has continued to cough like mad pretty much every night to which I often say “Please don’t die” and she will angrily respond between coughs “I’m Not Dying!”. She also won’t really go seek assistance either… which admittedly were the roles reverse I probably wouldn’t either. Still it is painful to hear her cough like that, and with my own fucked up immune system… I know that it is just a matter of time until I will be doing the same. As a precaution I have been trying to push fluids hard and get extra sleep… but the second point doesn’t exactly make for interesting topics to talk about in the morning when you barely played any games the night before.
One of the things about yesterdays luke warm take on not really caring about Epic Games exclusives that I did not fully estimate… was just how much hatred folks in general seem to have about a game like Borderlands 3 going exclusive on that platform. The latest is a rumor that Epic Games is now doing something to block launching under steam as a “non-steam game”. One of the arguments by supporters of Epic Games has been that you can still launch the games under Steam if you really just wanted to put them all in one location. Were this rumor true it would seem that someone on one side or the other was actively taking moves to ward against this. As someone who has three titles installed through the launcher I figured I would do some detective work. For reference those titles are Fortnite which I picked up prior to the Battle Royale version because it was a game that I had been following in development. The next is Ashen which is a platform exclusive and a game I very much wanted to try out. The last is Hades which was ultimately the game that made me have that “whelp I guess I am installing this launcher” moment because I absolutely love Super Giant Games.
The game that this rumor is circulating around however is Metro Exodus, that I did not purchase on any platform because quite frankly I don’t have the bandwidth to play it. I am maybe finally learning my lesson to put of purchases until I am actually going to do something with the damned game. So this is not necessarily going to be a fair test of the complaint that is circulating, but this should be a test if the launcher itself is blocking access to the games in some manner. For the uninitiated you can effectively add any game to steam by going up to the “Games” menu at the top and choosing “Add A Non-Steam Game to My Library”. This ends up bringing up the dialog above and sure enough… none of the three Epic Games Launcher games were showing up in the menu in spite of it seemingly bringing up every other executable on my system. Curiouser and Curiouser.
I am one of those weirdos that allows every game to drop an icon on my desktop, so I decided to check out what exactly Hades was launching. When you look into the shortcut you see something that is complete gibberish and that potentially only the Epic Games Launcher has any idea what to do with it. “com.epicgames.launcher://apps/Min?action=launch&silent=true” is not something that steam can launch seeing as it is looking for some sort of executable. I remember installing Hades to my bulk storage drive and the “Games” directory and sure enough I quickly found its directory. Underneath was an X64 and a X86 directory and inside of each was an executable called “Hades.exe”. So with path in hand I used the browse option to manually add this to steam and sure enough it launched the game as expected.
Now you can do this with games that are purchased through platforms like UbiSoft’s UPlay, but there is almost always the caveat that you need to have the Games Launcher running in the system tray in order for the game to successfully launch. In the case of UPlay even games you purchased THROUGH Steam itself… have to have the Uplay client running to access. To test this theory further I decided to hard kill the Epic Games Launcher and make sure nothing remained of it in memory. Unexpectedly… Hades still launched fine and even managed to get the Steam Overlay successfully over the top of the game play. The above screenshot is originally 4K resolution scaled down to 1080p so I could actually upload it to my blog, but you will see the tiny overlay window from steam in the lower right hand corner happily over top of Hades.
Maybe this was a fluke specific to the way Hades was developed, so I decided to try it again and go for a Ashen this time which is another platform exclusive title. Same process as above, I had to go find the actual game executable but once I knew its location I was able to browse to it through the “Add A Non-Steam Game to My Library” dialog. Again the game launched fine and again the steam overlay showed up in the lower right hand corner. So the 25 year plus of experience technologist in me says… that this isn’t a behavior baked into the launcher itself. I am not saying that something shady isn’t happening, just not necessarily the behavior that folks seem to be indicating. I do find it weird that Steam seemingly refuses to find the executables for any of the games that I have installed through the Epic Games launcher, but has picked up like all of my Adobe Products… all of the Asus apps that came with my Motherboard drivers… Skype… every single MMO and all of the games that installed through Origin. Steam literally ONLY excluded the Epic Games titles which was bonkers.
The funny thing is about today’s post… I have already written more words about the Epic Games store than I ever intended to. I am not going to defend it because really I don’t care. I used to have extreme loyalty to Steam as a platform, but originally it was a pretty great place to find new games. I valued its discovery system to help me find titles that I might be interested in. Lately however all of the really poor and asset flip titles clogging the platform… has made it extremely hard to find anything. So often its discovery system now gives me games “because it is popular” and not actually based on any past purchase or play history that I have had. Steam isn’t exactly doing a great job… but the problem is… nobody else is either. I admit I like the more curated experience of Epic Games because it has so many orders of magnitude fewer titles than Steam. Ultimately at the end of the day I will buy the game in whatever digital platform it is available on… and for Ubisoft titles for example I have stopped buying them through steam entirely and just go through the Native launcher since I will have to have it running in the background regardless to play the games.
I didn’t have anything better to talk about this morning, and I spent most of my writing time researching this nonsense… so you are getting it as the daily post. Please note… I am not trying to dissuade you from hating Epic Games or video game exclusivity. You can hate anything you want and there is plenty of ammo on either one of those stances. However the rumor floating around that Epic Games is actively blocking launching games through steam… does not appear to have any validity. I launched two exclusive titles through steam this morning both with and without the Epic Games launcher running in the background. In both cases it just worked without problems. Since Metro Exodus is the game in question and I do not own it… I cannot diagnose what is going on there. It could be that 4A Games or Deep Silver is doing something to block the Steam process from launching their executable, but again I can’t test this. I can say that in my opinion it isn’t actually the launcher at fault.