Launchermageddon: Blizzard Desktop App

By Craig Pearson on August 15th, 2013 at 8:00 pm.


You can tell a lot about a person by watching what they install on a fresh operating system. It’s the IT Rorschach test. For me it goes Chrome, Steam, drivers, a twitter client, then whatever I need as I go along*. I suspect Blizzard has just added an extra step in that process for a lot of PC owners: they’ve just opened up the beta to a new launcher for all their recent games. Battle.net is now on the desktop.

But not completely. Not yet, anyway. It’s currently mostly a launcher for World Of Warcraft, Starcraft II, and D3, and there’s a lot missing: their classic games are nowhere to be seen, changing account settings will load up a website, and bizarrely there’s no chat for people to arrange in-game fun. That seems like quite the omission given how multiplayer focussed Blizzard’s games tend to be. I also have a problem with space the program takes up when launched: there’s no ‘slim mode’, and the space is mostly background art and news stories for each game. Not what I’d call useful.

But there are a few neat touches: I like being able to select what monitor notification pop-ups will arrive on, and it has download speed toggles. If you already have the games installed, you can just point the launcher to the folder. It could do with plenty of feedback to make it more than just an elaborate launcher for games that already have launchers, though.

*Tell me yours. I want to know.

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49 Comments »

  1. LionsPhil says:

    Don’t they know that applications are passé, and this is a retrograde backward step away from it being inside a web browser?

    (No, my axe is not yet sufficiently sharp; thanks for asking.)

    ((And the first one on is probably Microsoft Security Essentials from a trusted USB stick, followed by Firefox from the same. The rest bootstraps from that more-or-less on demand.))

  2. Premium User Badge

    Earl-Grey says:

    The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing us we needed launcher programs running for our games to work.

    Oh, right:
    drivers, Chrome, Steam errr….it all gets a bit hazy after Steam. Pick a nice desktop background?

    • timethor says:

      Microsoft Security Essentials, Chrome, Firefox (with private mode/noscript/etc enabled for less… secure websites), Drivers, Winamp, VLC, Steam, Gimp, Irfanview, Office.

      Nothing more annoying than encountering a semi-common task that will take you 10 seconds in your favourite program, and then realizing you still need to install said program.

      • FakeAssName says:

        Oh, good … I was thinking I would get laughed at fo being the only one who uses gimp.

        Mine is:

        Firefox
        MSE
        Windows update
        Catalyst Control Center (or whatever it is called now)
        Open / Libra Office (whicheves is more stable atm)
        Gimp
        CCCP
        uTorrent
        Quake Wars

        … after that I typically forget what I was doing for two days.

        • Premium User Badge

          jrodman says:

          On windows:
          Vim. Python. Firefox. Cygwin. Fiddle with the windows preferences forever to make it act like win2000 for the most part.

          On Linux:
          fluxbox. mutt. pinfo.

          On Mac:
          MacVim. iterm2. Firefox. TotalSpaces (virtual desktops that don’t suck)

  3. doodler says:

    For me I go straight to ninite. I gotta get all the browsers, vlc, teracopy for all the backups I now have to transfer over, steam comes too, hamachi, updating java and net framework, then I get my all time favorite game from steam as soon as it’s done which is Xcom. Twitter client also, it’s been tweet deck bc I’ve been too lazy to switch but I imagine I will after the next wipe. Also mumble for voice chat… Probably more I’m overlooking so as you said the rest as needed

    • frenchy2k1 says:

      Seconded.
      http://ninite.com/

      I would recommend everyone to check it out if you have a reinstall or starting from scratch on a PC. It lets you select LOTS of very useful software, what most people consider indispensable and run an automated install from your selection. So, a few clicks and you will be well on your way to a functionning computer.

      Even better, it works the same for updates. Need to help a relative to keep her computer working? Redo the selection and run again and all necessary upgrades will be performed, again without any interaction.

      My go-to app since I discovered it and the first thing I run on a new install.

  4. mattevansc3 says:

    Windows update
    Cyberlink
    Media converters
    Game clients (steam, Origin, etc)
    After that its customising my start screen and live tiles though that’s become a lot easier with Win8.1

  5. rapchee says:

    total commander, drivers, opera, chrome, steam, desura etc
    sometimes i’m weirded out how people are okay with explorer as a file manager. it makes me rage in 20 min tops, or when it tries to overwrite a folder instead of copying the files inside it or one of the other silly things it does
    oh and i forgot avast (pro because i command a tremendous amount of currency) 2nd or 3rd to be safe

    • Nova says:

      Agreed, and in that regard I’m bewildered by the wide spread use of Chrome.

      Driver, Windows Update, Directory Opus, Opera, Pale Moon Win7Firewall Control, Foobar2000, F.lux…

      • rapchee says:

        heh i’ve used dirop on amiga :) but it never quite clicked with me
        oh and how is the widespread use of chrome surprising? it’s a quick and simple but expandable browser, in my experience the most compatible with the interwebs, although to be fair i do often go to pages that do experimental web stuff

    • Premium User Badge

      jrodman says:

      I never liked explorer, but i went from mac-finder like programs in early days (old macs, amiga) to diroups like things, to the shell. The shell replaced all those gui things for me after using them for 7 years or so.

      • rapchee says:

        we’re talking about linux shell here right? i can understand that, with a bit of effort, those can do very impressive things
        afaik in windows shell is the gui basically, the taskbar, start menu etc., that can be replaced with litestep and the like (that doesn’t work too well in the x64 era)

        • Premium User Badge

          jrodman says:

          I mean the command line. I use it on windows as well, after installing bash.

          $ echo $SHELL
          /bin/bash

  6. EOT says:

    Chrome
    Update MSE
    Drivers
    Rocket Dock
    Steam

    Stuff.

  7. Moraven says:

    Once I installed it all my old shorcuts for D3, SC2 and WoW automatically open the launcher. Other than one point a couple weeks back where the launcher was bugged to login to your game for a day, it works rather smoothly.

    Its combining 3 launchers into 1… makes things simpler if you play 2-3 of the above games. Having your account connected also allows you to skip having to put in your password everytime. Also you can choose what region/license you login to in the launcher. I can point to EU region of SC2 and be connected to that once the game loads.

    If anything you go from Install Blizzard games 1 by 1 to, Install launcher, download what games you want on your new windows setup.

    The biggest omission as said is chat… which is weird seeing how you can view your online friends in the launcher.

  8. Synesthesia says:

    Hm. Drivers, Chrome, Steam, Itunes(damn it to hell, but i need it for the ipod), Utorrent, and them some utilities. A defrag, antivirus, CCleaner and good to go.

    • rapchee says:

      there are plugins for the better players to handle ipods – foobar2000 and winamp for instance

  9. w9jds says:

    I personally love the new launcher!

    Personally I have WoW, Diable III, Starcraft II, and EVE on a separate hard drive on my laptop so when I reformat I don’t have to install them since they are so important.
    So my general install order is this. Visual Studio, Chrome, Driver, Updates, Steam/Origin, etc. etc.

  10. Creeping Death says:

    Firefox, drivers, AVG, Steam, VLC and then after that it’s open season. Windows updates generally come when I finally shut the thing down however many days/weeks later that’ll be.

  11. Premium User Badge

    Smashbox says:

    Ooh ads on your desktop! That’s fun

    Chrome, Security essentials, gfx driver, Steam, Photoshop, etc.

  12. cmsd2 says:

    well here’s an app that helps with installing more apps. i.e. for all the stuff that steam doesn’t provide.

    http://chocolatey.org/

    it’s not as good as dpkg but it’s the best we’ve got as far as I know.

    • frenchy2k1 says:

      Have you tried http://ninite.com ?
      not command line, but has a good number of programs available (all free), download and install all your selection without interaction.

      Fairly useful.

  13. Rao Dao Zao says:

    Deus Ex
    Unreal Anthology (U, UT, U2, UT2004)
    Warcraft III / the Frozen Throne (for modding, not for playiiiiiiiing…)

  14. Premium User Badge

    draglikepull says:

    Firefox
    Winamp
    Open Office
    A bunch of programs I use for audio recording/editing
    MSN (Skype now, I guess)
    Steam
    Paint.Net
    AVG

    Most of my time after a fresh install of Windows 7 is just modifying the system settings to make it work more sensibly. I like options, stop hiding them from me!

  15. ScubaMonster says:

    “For me it goes Chrome, Steam, drivers, a twitter client, then whatever I need as I go along*.”

    That’s an odd order. No motherboard chipset drivers first? :P I can’t even connect to the internet before installing those for my Gigabyte mobo. Also, I don’t see antivirus in there. YOU FOOL!! :)

  16. Sheng-ji says:

    Drivers
    Dropbox
    Chrome
    Steam
    Silverlight
    Antivirus
    Civ V
    Open Office
    Java
    VLC
    Spotflux (If setting up a laptop)
    Lightroom
    Photoshop
    Sony Vegas
    Unity
    Davinchi Resolve
    Notepad++
    Audacity & Plugins
    Scrivenor

    Having just done this a week ago, this was my day 1 install order!

  17. Low Life says:

    Firefox, MSE, drivers (graphics and audio/music stuff), PuTTY (well, one of the forks), Sublime Text, Spotify, Winamp, VLC, WinSCP.

    That’s pretty much the stuff I need to have installed to use a computer. And of course Steam’s always on another hard drive so it just is. Just like Deus Ex.

  18. Premium User Badge

    Hodge says:

    Can Linux people play?

    Lilyterm (terminal emulator)
    medit (text editor)
    Libre Office
    Firefox
    Chromium
    Dropbox (will probably switch at some point to Ubuntu One)
    Liferea (RSS reader… yeah, I’m the last one left)
    FileZilla (FTP/SSH file transfer)
    Google Earth
    SMplayer
    VLC
    Clementine (music player)
    The GIMP
    Avidemux (video transcoder)
    Kdenlive (video editor)
    mhwaveedit (audio editor)

    My Windows partition gets a small subset of that, plus Steam and 7zip.

    • Premium User Badge

      jrodman says:

      I use liferea too! I just don’t install it as my right-away things.
      Also I installed Debian at home last in 2002. Since that, updates and moving the install to a new machine once.

    • rapchee says:

      i use rss too :) but i use theoldreader.com. before that i used opera’s built-in reader, but the database got massive after a few years, slowed the startup down too much

  19. Premium User Badge

    liquidsoap89 says:

    Ethernet + USB Driver, Antivirus, chrome, graphics driver, steam, zune, vlc, bittorrent and the bloody logitech drivers.

    From then on it’s whatever I need when I need it. Having a SSD means I pretty much have something installed as soon as I actually NEED it to be installed, no wait times is great!

  20. Premium User Badge

    Bluerps says:

    Pretty much the same as you, just replace Chrome with Firefox and omit the Twitter client.

  21. nasenbluten says:

    Directory Opus, Firefox, Thunderbird, KiTTY, UltraVNC, NetPeeker, ZoomPlayer, Winamp, PowerArchiver.

    For gaming: Steam, Quake, D-Fend Reloaded, MAME, PCSX2.

  22. acheron says:

    So do D3 and SC2 still run their own launcher screens or does this replace them?

    Maybe they could put this on Steam. Steam launches the Blizzard launcher which launches the D3 launcher. LAUNCHCEPTION

  23. Premium User Badge

    jrodman says:

    Re: the launcher stuff from blizzard. All their new games already shared most of the components of their launcher over in Agent.exe, so I think this is really just a user experience change, not a technology change.

  24. Premium User Badge

    strangeloup says:

    Seeing as folks are talking about what they install, can someone recommend me a decent browser? Chrome doesn’t like me, and Firefox has a new and awful habit of full-on crashing at least once a day.

  25. JD Ogre says:

    So, any word on if it be mandatory to use this piece of crap, or will it just there as an option?

    • Premium User Badge

      jrodman says:

      Traditionally they’ve made it somewhat optional to see their gui thing unless there’s an update.

  26. HothMonster says:

    Drivers, chrome, a ninite package, steam, fences, rainmeter, mumble, vmware view

    • bstard says:

      Few gig’s of porn.

      • HothMonster says:

        yeah right, like I’d download that every time. It’s on a secondary drive, gtg as soon as the OS boots.

  27. lord_strange says:

    This thread was worth it for the Ninite tipoff alone. Next time I build a new PC I will just install drivers & then run that :-)

    But on my main box I haven’t had to reinstall Windows 7 since I first loaded it up; I still use an old dos-based version of Norton Ghost for periodic image backups and if I ever get into trouble I can just restore one of those. Don’t know what I’ll do if MS ever introduces a new filesystem that it can’t deal with though!

  28. ZHsquad says:

    It’s crazy, I still use shortcuts instead of launchers.

    Opera
    Avast/spybot
    Skype
    gtalk
    Open office
    Steam
    VLC
    uTorrent
    Winrar

  29. mpk says:

    New operating system? Screw you guys I’m still on ME.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      Surely that means you’re reinstalling from scratch on a weekly basis

      /humour

  30. kdz says:

    Chrome, terracopy, Steam, drivers in the meantime. The rest of the important stuff will be installed first (or, well, third…) time I need it.

    Terracopy is a must though.

  31. Ninja Foodstuff says:

    What? I just connect to Time Machine and restore my user profile. :)

  32. Vigidis says:

    drivers…and then “must have”s:
    Firefox + plugins
    AVG Free 201x
    7zip
    VLC
    Open Office
    Foxit PDF Reader
    Trillian
    Dropbox
    BitComet
    CCleaner
    VMWare Player