Statistics, metrics, and achievements. This is what new-age gaming has taught the average person to look forward to. In the early ’90s, PC gaming was nearly non-existent and a real shining achievement was being able to play through an entire NES game (no memory cards back then) without some freak accident happening, like your power cutting off. Things sure are different today, and by now you’re probably used to being congratulated and patted on the head through every milestone you reach.
There’s nothing wrong with that, though. As a matter of fact, one could argue that being able to prove and boast your achievements when gaming only adds to a more social and competitive atmosphere. Playing with friends is fun and playing competitively is fun, so where’s the problem?
At MakeUseOf, we’ve covered the two elite solutions to tracking your PC gaming time and achievements - Xfire and Raptr. Xfire is the veteran of this field and Raptr has quickly gained ground as the software’s fiercest competitor. Which software is the best though?
The Xfire client isn’t anything to rant and rave over, but if you’re expecting game-tracking software like Xfire or Raptr to replace your instant messenger and feel like a vibrant and lively social network then you’re going to get your hopes up. The client comes in multiple different skins and themes that you can customize it with, the following being one of my favorites:
You could call it bulky and there’s a stream of advertisements across the top. I’ve got a little over 100 friends on Xfire, and as you can see (at 8AM EST on Thursday), things aren’t the liveliest. The Activity Report tab is a cool way to see where your friends are spending their free time. As for using Xfire as a way to handle and launch games, it’s never been something I’ve considered doing. I have a desktop, Start menu, and Steam. Xfire has no use there.
Should you, for some reason, choose to allow Xfire to control all of your IMing habits, you’re able to do that.
The feature is still listed as alpha, after many years, but seems to work fine from what I’ve experienced.
Xfire’s online profiling is where it does really well.
Profiles offer a large range of information, including your game time, in-game characters from larger games like WoW, screenshots, friends, and more. Should you choose Xfire’s new website layout, this is how user profiles appear:
There are a lot of lost and underused features in Xfire, like the whole private messaging system, blogs, favoriting servers, and so on. One really cool feature that is unique and to be appreciated is the way to automatically upload your gaming rig, so that all of your friends can see what specs you’re running.
Xfire also offers profiles for games themselves. On these profiles, you’re able to see relevant community posts, screenshots, news, and global statistics.
Overall, Xfire is a classic and efficient way to track just how much time you really spend on gaming by the PC.
The core functionality between Xfire and Raptr is the same, but the two clients couldn’t be more different.
Foremost, the entirety of Raptr is able to run through the client itself. That’s the game-tracking functionality, profile view, and more.
Within the client, much like Xfire, you’re able to manage multiple different social accounts and IM clients. Raptr offers a wider selection of networks you’re able to connect through.
Raptr is truer to the feel of a social network when compared to Xfire. You receive messages and notifications that alert you of playtime records and achievements, much in the same way that you receive alerts on Facebook.
You’ll notice that the Wall is also incredibly similar to Facebook, in fact nearly a lookalike.
A very unique and interesting feature of the Raptr client is that you’re able to actually unlock rewards and giveaways just for using the software to track your playtime. Rewards include access to closed betas and free DLC and in-game items.
Raptr also logs in-game achievements much in the same way that Steam does, which is a big feature that Xfire seems to have either left out or let remain underdeveloped. Neither client has a particularly engaging instant messaging interface or game launcher.
Which Is It For Me?
To compare both to more familiar software, Xfire is more like AIM where Raptr is closer to Skype. Xfire gets the job done and tracks what needs to be tracked. It’s a little more lightweight than Raptr, but leaves out key functionality in social areas.
Another large difference is the community. Xfire users seem to have a huge bias towards League of Legends, where games like World of Warcraft and Starcraft II remain competitive in playtime on Raptr.
If I had to pick one of the two, it’d be hard for me to pass up Raptr’s functionality when it comes to tracking achievements. Their rewards program is also a good hook. The Raptr profile is cleaner and offers more meat and gives yet another “wall” for your Internet buddies to fill up with comments. Raptr is more of a social network for gaming while Xfire is a place to track your hours.