Review: GOG Galaxy 2.0 Game Client – Open Beta

I wrote about GOG Galaxy 2.0 last year during the “Launcher Wars”, which were sparked in part by Epic Software’s incessant desire to gobble up a bunch of exclusive or timed big name releases on PC. This is a practice which continues in 2020, with titles such as Assassins Creed Valhalla.

The aim of Galaxy 2.0 was to unite all of your PC digital storefronts and associated launchers into a single, universal library, under one client to rule them all. This isn’t a new idea, other options such as Playnite have been doing this for a while.

Automatic Update From 1.0 Isn’t Well Received By Some

Many people who use GOG.com have likely never bothered installing the Galaxy client, it is yet another launcher to think about. It’s mostly unnecessary as well, you can download DRM free installer executables from GOG.com and store them wherever you want. If you don’t wish to keep your games up to date, you don’t have to do that either.

Despite the Galaxy 2.0 client receiving regular updates and continually improving over the last several months, an immediate misstep, unusual for CDPR, is currently being observed by the very people they probably shouldn’t be pissing off.

Those choosing to install the Galaxy 1.0 client are likely the more serious GOG.com users, with the largest libraries. They want the convenience of downloading and updating their games like any Steam or Uplay user would expect.

Without any real warning, it seems 1.0 clients are being upgraded to the 2.0 open beta, which some users are finding rather unpleasant, a questionable decision in my opinion.

They apparently didn’t sign up for this or any beta. They’re finding ways to roll back and then prevent the update from happening again, such is their distaste for the upgrade. Poor show CDPR, not everyone wants to use beta software.

Connections to Third Party Platforms

Connecting your Steam, PlayStation and Xbox (amongst other) libraries is one of the main draws of Galaxy 2.0, so how does this work?

Under settings, you have the option to connect these and several other platforms to your Galaxy 2.0 client. Sign in to your platform of choice, and that’s it, Galaxy 2.0 can now synchronise information from that platform.

The open source nature of the functionality remains in place, with the community still working to fill the gaps left by CDPR, which are numerous. All the major players are covered to a degree, but if you’re the sort of person who uses the itch.io client you’ll be left wanting.

During the private beta, this functionality would routinely misbehave, losing connection and forcing you to log back in to services such as PlayStation Network over and over again. In the version currently rolling out, this appears to have stabilised.

On the whole, this functionality now works well, with much fewer disconnections from the various services I’ve tried, including Xbox Live, PSN, Uplay, Origin and Epic Games Store. More work needs to be done by CDPR to convince other platforms to open things up a little, allow downloads to be tracked and managed fully by Galaxy 2.0 for example.

I can’t help but feel like this will go the way of Windows Phone, where the likes of Facebook and Twitter ultimately pulled support for integrating their platforms into a “Social” feed natively in the OS, because this negated the need for users to open the dedicated apps. This harmed advertising revenue for Facebook and Twitter, which is how they exist in the first place. Valve and others will know this is the case for their own stores, if they allow Galaxy 2.0 to be too feature rich.

General Stability and Performance

This has been improved significantly from the private beta releases over the last several months, likely contributing to this becoming an open beta.

Frequent disconnection from “GOG Services” would restart the entire client throughout the private beta period, for me at least. Thankfully, this appears to have entirely stopped. I also haven’t experienced any crashing games, fingers crossed.

Playtime Tracking

This remains my biggest disappointment with Galaxy 2.0, despite some great refinements to the user interface around this feature. The simple fact is, playtime just doesn’t seem to tracked accurately at all. Not even close.

Countless hours spent playing GTA Online on Xbox One with the Later Levels crew have fallen by the wayside in Galaxy 2.0. It remains stuck on 18 hours, a figure which was accurate months ago. Repeated attempts to get this figure to update, let alone track again, have all failed.

Other Xbox titles don’t appear to have any time logged against them at all. Some of my Steam titles, which are in fact just a wrapper for Uplay installations, have duplicated playtime, adding the playtime of both platforms together. This places them higher up in my list of “Most Played” titles than they should be. Unforgivable haha!

There’s also a cumulative playtime chart on the “Recent” page, which is wildly inaccurate for me. Entire weeks or months suggest no play time occurred, which definitely isn’t the case.

Friends List Integration

Another disappointment, so far, we still can’t chat across platforms. I assume they’re still working on getting the platform owners on board with this, but it is desperately needed. Also seems rather unlikely.

We can now at least see our friends presence, but there’s seemingly no way of matching users between platforms, so you’ll see the same person in multiple places if you’ve added them to multiple platforms.

Game Launching

Multiple executables are supported, if you’re into modding your PC games.

Titles which are owned across multiple platforms are also catered for, with the option to select which platform launches by default per game.

You’ll still need to manage updates and downloads through the relevant client, for now, but launching games exclusively through Galaxy 2.0 should be no problem.

In Summary

I still think it’s a crying shame this is even a thing for PC users, or that Valve haven’t got their thumb out and done this stuff with Steam in the last 15 plus years. On the other hand, this has definitely ignited something over at Valve, between this and Discord’s meteoric rise over the last couple of years, the improvements to Steam have been coming steadily ever since.

You’ve got very little to lose by giving GOG Galaxy 2.0 a spin during the open beta, I’ve found it stable enough so far to use as my primary launcher. It’s quite amusing using Galaxy 2.0 to launch Far Cry 4 in Steam, just for Steam to launch Uplay.

I really wish the playtime tracking were a little more robust. I’ll be sticking with it for now over Playnite though, as the user interface is more to my liking.

Have you been using Galaxy 2.0? What do you think so far? Let me know in the comments.