Too Many PC Games Are A Pain To Get RunningKirk Hamilton6/23/14 7:30pmFiled to: opinionPC gamingsteamkotakucore39323EditPromoteShare to KinjaToggle Conversation toolsGo to permalinkWhen setting up a new PC, it's fun to go back and play older games and see how much better they run on your new hardware. Just install them and fire them up. Easy, right? If only.AdvertisementOver the past week, I've spent an inordinate amount of time trying to get some of my Steam games to run at all. It hasn't been as easy as it should be. Several of the older games that I've re-installed have required some sort of outside software, DRM, or online activation, and enough of those outside programs are running weirdly that I'm once again reminded of how precarious PC gaming can feel. Do I even own these games? Will I be able to play them in five years' time? How about ten?It started when I fired up Max Payne 3. I really like that game, and love how sharp it looks on a high-res monitor running at a high frame-rate. I re-downloaded it from Steam and set about playing it, only to find myself stymied.AdvertisementTo play Max Payne 3, you must first create and log in to a free "social club" account through the game's developer, Rockstar. I had forgotten that this was necessary, but it is—if you try to skip logging in you'll never get past the game's first menu screen. I went ahead and looked up the login to my Rockstar Social Club account (I never use it and had of course forgotten which email address I used, what my password was, etc.), then logged in. I got this dialogue box:Permanent? Okay, I guess I better make sure I've got all the account information correct, or this is going to be even more of a headache. I went to the Social Club website, logged into my account and checked it. Looked right to me. I hit "OK" and got an error message: Could not link to social club account, please try later. Of course, I couldn't play the game until I linked my Social Club account with Steam, so I kept trying, to no avail.SponsoredI restarted the game and tried again, and this time the link went through. Sweet! I played some Max Payne 3. Then I quit to play something else. I came back to Max Payne 3 a couple of hours later, only to find the same pop-up:Only this time, I wasn't able to click "OK" and get the game to re-link my accounts. No matter what I did, it wouldn't go through. I kept loading, quitting, loading, quitting… nothing worked. I went to my Social Club page on Rockstar's site and didn't see my Steam account among the linked accounts, nor did I see an option to link the accounts from that end.AdvertisementI looked at the game's Steam community page, where numerous players were having the same problem. I tried a number of suggested fixes, from deleting files from the game's directory and rebuilding it to amending my PC's firewall to block the game from accessing the internet. Nothing worked, until I finally just deleted the Social Club folder from my PC and started again. For a while I thought I'd have to do that every time I wanted to play, though eventually I figured out that if I told the Social Club popup not to remember me, I could log in fresh each time, link the account each time, and play the game each time.So, I'm now able to play Max Payne 3 on my PC. (It's still a pretty sweet game, too. Hooray!) But man alive, it was far too difficult to make that happen, and each time I have to re-login to the Social Club to play a new game, I'm a little bit more annoyed. I spent about an hour trawling the Steam forums, trying various fixes, deleting and re-downloading files, and generally staring at my screen in disbelief as I tried to make a game that I've owned for more than two years simply run.AdvertisementRequired external authenticators like the Rockstar Social Club are nothing new to PC gamers. We've been dealing with this stuff for ages now—Steam may offer its own digital rights management (DRM) software, but that's not enough for plenty of larger video game publishers. Ubisoft games bought on Steam still need to be activated through the external Uplay service, while some EA games go through EA's Origin service while others are no longer available on Steam at all. And of course there's Microsoft's increasingly woebegone Games for Windows Live service, which often includes SecuROM DRM and requires both logging into a GFWL account and entering a second code outside of Steam in order to start the game at all.The Max Payne 3 situation I ran into the other day highlights a particular problem with PC DRM: Steam probably isn't going anywhere anytime soon, but what happens when these external protocols stop working? Max Payne 3 came out in 2012, qualifying it as "old" in the now-now-now world of video games. It sells for a huge discount online, and its multiplayer servers are largely barren. Rockstar has moved on to greener, much more profitable pastures, and it doesn't seem as though anyone is at the helm any longer.