For years, players have launched their Kerbals into space, but now, it's a different kind of Kerbal Space Program launcher that has drawn fans' attention. A new launcher has been added to the game in a recent update, prompting outcry and a wave of negative reviews on Steam. We're not quite into review bomb territory yet, but the reaction has not been positive.
Recently, the release date for Kerbal Space Program 2 was revealed, with the space sim sequel set to enter Early Access next year. According to publisher Private Division, a new launcher was added to Kerbal Space Program in order to keep fans updated on news about KSP 2, as well as to give them a way to provide feedback once the game launches.
As you might imagine, though, this decision hasn't gone down well with players. On the game's official Steam page, recent reviews have skewed toward the negative. Fans are accusing Private Division of using said launcher to "sneak in DRM in an eleven-year-old game", and harvest additional data from players in the highly negative discussions.
Fans have also pointed to problems with the launcher such as broken mod support and an inability to close it after shutting down the game, although we did not experience any issues of it staying open ourselves. It's not possible to disable the launcher via the graphical interface, either; you have to add a custom command to the Steam shortcut that points directly at the game, thereby bypassing the launcher.
This isn't even the only example of a launcher being added to a game on Steam and prompting fan anger in the last few months. Recently, 2K released a "quality of life update" for BioShock Infinite that added a new launcher with a "Store to purchase new content". 2K then followed up on that update by acknowledging "possible impacts related" to it and reiterating that the "player's experience is paramount".
It's worth noting that Private Division is, of course, owned by the same parent company as 2K, Take-Two Interactive. This is a similar problem to the one fans of Civilization VI experienced with that game's launcher, leading to similar entreaties for 2K to delete said launcher and also to fans detailing how to remove the launcher themselves. It seems like Take-Two doesn't learn from its mistakes when it comes to launchers, eh?
We reached out to Private Division for comment on this story, and an official spokesperson had this to say about the matter.
Launchers do add an extra layer before a game opens, and we have implemented ours to lay the groundwork for an improved experience with KSP2 Early Access and other future features that players will enjoy. We’ll have more to share about these features in the coming months, and we are very excited for the KSP community to experience what’s to come. We’re always evaluating feedback and working with the community to make KSP the best it can be.
Regarding any community concerns, we can assure our players that there is no spyware and KSP remains DRM free. Players can also continue to launch KSP directly from where the game is saved locally using the game’s executable.
Stay tuned for more info on this.