Friday, September 15, 2017

Raptr - Closing Down This September 30th, The Blog Here Says 'Goodbye Old Friend' To The Once-Useful Program


Just a notification that the 'Graphic-Configurator, Game-Installer, Gameplay-Recorder and
Social Media client that tried to tie it all together' - Raptr - will be no more, as of September 30th, 2017


A few days ago, I received an email stating that Raptr was ending the program/client which at one time was tied-in with AMD's Graphic Drivers as "AMD Gaming Evolved". Now that both NVIDIA and AMD have their own 'game configuration utilities' and 'game recording capabilities' (via Crimson for AMD and GeForce Experience for NVIDIA), "there is no need for such a separate utility", as Raptr's 'Farewell Letter' basically states:

"We are sad to announce that we will be closing Raptr on September 30th, 2017. We want to start by thanking you for your support over the past 10 years.
The world is different today than when we first launched Raptr. Many companies offer game optimization tools. Having an independent platform to do this is no longer necessary.
On September 30, we will start the process of shutting off access to your Raptr account and disabling features. If you'd like to export your tracked game play history, you can do so immediately using the instructions below:
  • Go to Raptr.com
  • Sign in to your Raptr account
  • Click to get your gameplay data
If you have any other questions, please send us feedback.
We are proud of the service we built and the community who helped grow Raptr.  Thank you, once again, for your support.
Dennis “Thresh” Fong
Co-founder and CEO"

Mr. Fong Qin, known worldwide as "'Thresh' Fong" for his 1990's Quake and Doom tournament career, was also the co-founder of Xfire (which itself was acquired by Viacom in 2006). While the Raptr/Gaming Evolved client was useful, it seemed to have challenges from close to the start [or at least, noticeable in hindsight, from when I first started using it].

The Press Release - the notification that Raptr was closing down - as it looked on the Raptr website, September 2017
(Click to see Full Size)


At one time, Raptr offered Rewards for playing (and letting it track your Hours or Record your Gameplay); 'Reward Points' that you could collect, every time you Optimized a Game (let the utility auto-configure your in-game options/settings for you), or viewed/contributed to a game Forum (similar to Steam's Game Forums [forii?]). You could also earn Raptr Reward Points just by playing a game and having it running (it gave a running total of your Hours Played).

The Raptr/Gaming Evolved Client, as it looked in 2014, showing the Reward Points collected at one time
(from the Gaming Evolved/Raptr Press Kit, Click to see Full Size)


Prizes to spend your Points on were Draws for, or outright purchases of, Full Games and game tie-in material, such as Character Costumes or Vehicles (Mounts). Just before it was taken away, I even saw some Computer Hardware in there (some dated GPUs mind you, but still, it was neat to see some computer parts you could earn 'with time played' only). I never did win a Draw for a Retail Game, but I heard from a couple of people who did. There were many, many upset users, who had been saving for years (literally), at the loss of the points system. Some noted at the time that perhaps it was an early bell, tolling for the end of Raptr, even then...

The Raptr/Gaming Evolved Client, as it looked in 2015, showing Plays.Tv in its 'built-in' Beta phase and Graphic Drivers being kept up-to-date [I owned an AMD/ATi GPU at the time], the client still showing Reward Points being tabulated, and the Twitch Broadcast implementation
(Click to see Full Size)


There was a Forum interface built-in to the Raptr client (directly-accessible within it) that was similar to Steam's Game Forums [too similar?], where people could discuss games, talk about upcoming releases, and share Screenshots; but there wasn't too much going on in them [that I could see, personally]. There were some helpful and contributive posts, but they were always few in number:

Example of Raptr/Gaming Evolved Game Forums, showing Guild Wars 2, circa 2016
(Click to see Full Size)


As 'the end' neared, the Forums became overrun slowly by Spammers and non-English posts talking about other websites (not that there's anything wrong with speaking other languages, I know a bit of a handful of languages myself, but it was an English forum and much of these posts were clearly Spam of one sort or another). People started asking why things weren't getting 'cleaned up', near the end.


The Raptr/Gaming Evolved Official Raptr Forum, shown in the client, displaying the number of users of the forum
(Click to see Full Size)


While many felt it was 'just like Steam' or 'not needed' even back then, it still boasted over 100 Million registered users at one point (as evidenced by the number of users within the main Raptr discussion group, above) - and it was even 'targeted by hackers' in 2015 - infiltrated in an attempt to gain access to the many users' data and potentially personal information. A notice went out in January of that year, notifying users to change their password, as a result of the recent security breach:

Raptr Forum Notification, urging users to change their Passwords, after a recent security breach, circa January 2015
(Click to see Full Size)


Personally, I feel sorry that I couldn't spend more time with Raptr/GamingEvolved, as I only discovered it a couple of years ago.. Over the entire time, my own illness prevented me from posting more, sharing Screenshots more, and talking more about Releases and Reviews [as it does here in this blog!]. I feel like it could have been 'the next Steam with bonus game configuration' perhaps - but alas, it simply had too many challenges going against it... People started asking for Chat interface (a la Skype) and Voice Chat, but the Voice part never came. People wanted a GVR (Game Video Recorder) and while that arrived, in the form of Plays.tv - first in the app itself and as a stand-alone utility - perhaps it was too late to save Raptr, as both NVIDIA then AMD, came out with their own 'built-in' gameplay recording capabilities about the same time. For example, in 2013, NVIDIA's Shadowplay became part of their Settings Optimization client, GeForce Experience, which allowed high-performance gameplay recording. Eventually, AMD's ReLive, part of their Crimson GPU Driver update, also allowed high-quality gameplay recording as well. Both of these essentially negated the game recording aspect of Raptr (Plays.tv, which continues onward today as its' own stand-alone recorder):

Information Panel about Plays.TV, the gameplay recording utility that was once included with Raptr/Gaming Evolved
(Click to see Full Size)


Although many didn't use Raptr, or even like it, there were those that used the client to at least keep track of their Hours Played, used it a light social-media app, or just enjoyed the semi-automated Graphic Configuration within. As a former user - that wished he used it more - I myself say a sad 'Goodbye' to Raptr. So long, old friend, I wish I got to know you better...