With all of these layers of DRM and launchers in mind, it's not hard to see why many gamers find the whole situation frustrating -- it's one of the main reasons the Epic Games Store, which controversially snagged several highly-anticipated games as timed exclusives, has been under so much fire as of late.
So, what's the solution to the launcher dilemma? Obviously, users could simply not buy games that need extra storefronts and stick to their main platform of choice (likely Steam), but that's not ideal.
Fortunately, CD Projekt, the company behind The Witcher 3 and the upcoming Cyberpunk 2077, has come up with a better fix: GOG Galaxy 2.0.
First, a bit of context: Good Old Games is CD Projekt's DRM-free online game storefront. All titles purchased there can be added to your personal library with no strings attached. Download the setup .exes and bring them with you wherever you please.
If you want, you can even snag multiple copies of a game and distribute them across all of your computers (though we don't, of course, advocate for piracy). The choice, GOG promises, is yours.
Best of all, there are no online checks or requirements: you can play every single GOG game offline for as long as you like. GOG Galaxy, on the other hand, has everything GOG has but in software form -- think of it as a DRM-free Steam, with a smaller (but more curated) selection of games. It gives you an easier and more convenient way of accessing and downloading your GOG games and all their extras.
GOG Galaxy 2.0 is the next evolution of this software and it brings some hefty cosmetic and feature upgrades to the normal Galaxy client. Most notably, the new "Universal Library" functionality.
The Universal Library aims to address the launcher juggling issues mentioned before by letting you link your other gaming platform accounts to Galaxy 2.0. The current roster of supported (community-created) third-party launchers includes the Epic Games Store, Origin, Steam, Battle.net, and Uplay. Upon integrating your launchers, you'll be able to see all of your games in one place.
You can install, organize, search, and manage them however you please; all from within Galaxy 2.0. For the customization fanatics out there, you're able to create custom backgrounds, categories, icons, banner art, tags, and more for each game. You're able to sort your games by platform (Origin, GOG, Steam, etc.), tag, or installation status, which makes finding specific games a breeze. Alternatively, you can use the Search tool just as you would in the old Galaxy.
In the future, the Galaxy team hopes to add Friends list and chat integration to 2.0, but those features are not available in the software's current Closed Beta state. However, when it arrives, you'll be able to see you and your friends' game activity across all platforms.
So -- a Universal Library. Sounds perfect, right? Well, not quite. Although playing and installing games via Galaxy 2.0 is relatively seamless, there are a few issues. For starters, the software does not bypass existing platform requirements: it will still need to open up Origin in order for you to play or install the Sims 4, for example.
Further, and this more of a minor nitpick, Galaxy 2.0 could also benefit from a toggle that may allow it to automatically close any open "extra" clients once you've exited their attached games. Using Sims 4 as an example again, if you close the game, it'd be nice if Galaxy 2.0 could automatically shut down Origin.
The final issue of note with 2.0 in its current state could perhaps be considered an unintended feature for some players.
For games that require two launchers to run (Such as Far Cry 5), you'll find that Galaxy 2.0 will show two entries for the titles in your universal library: one for its native client (in Far Cry 5's case, Uplay) and one for the secondary storefront (Steam). There is a currently-inaccessible toggle that will let you remove games from your library view, but it's unclear when that feature will actually arrive. Update: This feature is now available.
The good news is, many of Galaxy 2.0's shortcomings could be fixed by the community in the future because the software's integrations are completely open-source. Is there another, lesser-known launcher that you'd like support for? The community can add it. Is there a specific feature you wish 2.0 had? The answer is the same, GOG claims.
Unfortunately, the main problem with 2.0 -- the launcher requirements -- is probably not something the community or even GOG itself could easily fix; for reasons both legal and technical (Ubisoft probably wouldn't be too pleased if GOG found a way to bypass Uplay).
Still, from a pure convenience standpoint, it's hard to deny that Galaxy 2.0 is probably going to be pretty appealing to a wide variety of users. In the future, the software may eliminate the need for you to ever sift through another non-Galaxy game library again; unless you want to buy a new title or tweak platform-specific settings. It also doesn't hurt that Galaxy 2.0 brings a pretty major visual overhaul to the platform, making it look just a bit more modern.
We don't know when Galaxy 2.0 will launch to the public, but we'll let you know if CD Projekt or the GOG team announce any release dates. If you have any questions about 2.0 in the meantime, feel free to sign up for the Closed Beta now, or leave any questions you may have in the comments below and we'll answer as soon as we can.
Update 7/13/2019: An earlier version of this article mistakenly referred to GOG as "Good Old Games" and "GoG." While these were the company's previous names, they have since simply rebranded to "GOG." We also incorrectly implied that the current third-party client integrations were official (they are community created). We've edited the piece to reflect this information.