Project Ascension: uniting rival game services

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Any PC gamer will understand the pain it is dealing with managing all your game libraries across all the different services. After Steam first arrived in 2003, it quickly became the go-to service to buy games on Windows, then OS X and finally Linux. Obviously, the major publishers wanted in on the action, so Ubisoft launched Uplay back in 2009, and EA launched Origin in 2011. Thanks to the DRM systems these service force on their users, PC gaming is a mess of game clients opening game clients, disparate friends lists and aggressive background processes hogging resources.

Project Ascension is a free, open-source and cross-platform game launcher developed by the community. And best of all, a public beta is coming this Fall.

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One enterprising group of software developers think they might have come up with a solution to unify everything: Project Ascension. When it’s out, the software will pull together the stores, friends and libraries for all the supported distribution platforms. From the looks of the design mockups in the video below, the developers have cherry picked some of the based ideas from the applications Project Ascension links up, with some design clues from GOG Galaxy and Steam.

The project team have put up a little FAQ to try and answer some of the early question people might have, but the big question is ‘why?’, which they give an ambitious and reassuring answer:

Is this a replacement for other launchers/programs, such as Steam or Origin?

No. Project Ascension is an open-source launcher made by the community, for the community. We are not attempting to replace any other pre-existing launchers or programs, such as Steam, Origin, uPlay, etc. We are promoting competition through the unification of multiple storefronts, ultimately making it better for you, the consumer.

My take

If the team can pull this off, and make it all seamless, it’s going to be an essential install for PC gamers. The idea reminds me a lot of some of the messenger applications like Pidjin or Adium that let you manage a single friends list for all your messaging accounts, especially back in the early 00s when everyone was on all different services. Since the software will be open source, the code behind the system should be transparent, which will give users confidence that nothing nefarious is going on. It’ll also mean that as new services start up, anyone with coding experience can contribute to get them added. As a fan of open source software, this has me excited, an should give more open services like GOG.com the boost in visibility they deserve.

Your take

Which PC game services do you use? Do you have good or bad stories to share? Would you use something like this to manage it all?

Expect a public beta of Project Ascension sometime in Q4 2015. In the meantime, keep an eye on their website for the latest news!

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About Dan Morse

From the Atari 2600 right through to bleeding fast PCs, Dan's played on them all. One thing that's never changed is an unwavering passion for video games. Twitter: @happydan | Steam: happydan | GOG: happydan