A story about Wargaming.net Game Center: the finale
On November 4, 2019, European and Russian update servers that were used by WoTLauncher were shut down once and forever. The OMLauncher project was at early alpha development stage at the moment though it already could download and install updates for World of Tanks after the final transition to Game Center. Were any improvements made to the application or its reputation still leaves something to be desired? Let's get right into it!
One year passed since the transition. I hope you still remember these sweet days when World of Tanks forums were the battlefield instead of the game itself. CIS players were the most active in that discussion and they were mostly blaming Wargaming for making such dangerous decision. I was the one in the middle of it. I had nothing to do but do something to ease the pain and find a way to evade the problem at least for the most threatened part of the gaming community - Windows XP users.
Learn more about Windows XP's support shutdown in Developer Diaries. End of Windows XP and DirectX 9 Support video.
The major problem for them was their wallet, if we are speaking about the financial reason to stay on old hardware and operating system. Game Center detects that Windows XP is installed on computer and refuses to install itself. In other words, they have lost their ability to update and play the game. When I offered some of these players to try OMLauncher, which already was capable to download and install game updates, they were ready to do anything to win some time before switching to newer software and hardware.
But what about the players who migrated to the Game Center? Were the problems they met fixed one year later after the transition? The answer is obvious - no, they were not. You still can find topics on forums where topic starter attaches the screenshot with Game Center running into a random problem that can't be properly described unless you take a nose dive into application's logs. People still suffer from "failed to connect" or "failed to install" problems though they occur less often now. The problem is resolved only in case when no one has that issue.
Is there anything new since that day? Are there any new features that make Game Center better comparing to the legacy launcher? Try to not fall from your chair - a button to open game folder. How much money and time was spent to implement this very important and urgent to have feature? How I lived before this thing existed?
Even WOT Express, the largest unofficial World of Tanks news media was surprised by such innovation (screenshot belongs to them, obviously). How funny it looks...
How to be Annoying (for Dummies)
Since that day, all new games that are introduced to Game Center, don't have an option to launch without WGC running in background. The poorly known Caliber is a good example. When you try to start the executable without wgc.exe and its child processes in background, it will freeze at loading screen and attempt to start Game Center. Same applies to World of Warships, though it's not a new game but they decided to do the same operation the other way: instead of starting the game, the executable checks whether if WGC is running. If not, closes the game process and redirects to the Game Center. I want to start the game, I don't want seeing your browser with a function to overload the CPU, damn it!
At the same time, World of Warplanes (you will be probably surprised hearing that this game is still alive) was the first game moved to the Game Center. But they did not remove legacy e-mail/password authentication mode. It sounds odd, isn't it? Let's hope that WoWP players will be able to log in like that any time they want.
But is that a dead end?
It's a question without answer. Wargaming.net Game Center has some internal features that are nice to use. The concept of uniting all games under one roof is a good idea because having all stuff at one place. But the implementation is... better say nothing rather apologizing. I see no reason to blame anyone for their decisions because they have a reason to do stuff the way they need. In some cases it might help solving issues on their side. You can compare it to a trolley problem: will leave old servers running because they rely on very old infrastructure that is painful to maintain yet provide stable service or flick the switch and transit everyone to a new platform that is not stable but open yourself new methods of doing the same tasks?
The OMLauncher project chose the first. But soon I plan to create a new launcher that will combine advantages of good old launcher and Wargaming.net Game Center. I let you choose what to do with the legacy launcher when new product reaches production stage and I promise you to not shut down its servers unless major changes will come from Wargaming's side.