How to bypass the Uplay launcher with Steam’s Big Picture mode

Update 2013-06-04: Seems this method no longer works after the recent uPlay update. uPlay Games purchased on Steam at least start without user interaction, but the “after game report” is still present.This is very likely a deliberate move by Ubisoft since their precious uPlay platform would be rather pointless if no-one actually had to use it. I’ve looked briefly at the new files but couldn’t find any way to skip the launcher. Damn. And here I was thinking Ubisoft tried to make up for their past mistakes …

I love Steam’s “Big Picture” mode. It enables me to have an almost console-like experience on my gaming PC, which is connected to my flat screen TV. With almost all new games sporting controller support, it’s just much more comfortable to play on the couch than in front of my (huge, but still comparatively small) 27″ LED display. Since game prices are way lower on PC as well, I have long ditched my consoles in favor of the “dead” PC platform.

But of course, not all games support Big Picture mode, one of them being FarCry 3. Thanks to Ubisofts stupid “Uplay” launcher, I always have to get up from the couch and click “Play” to actually launch the game, and when I stop playing, I have to close the launcher before even getting back to Steam. Searching the internet didn’t reveal much except for other players complaining about exactly the same issue.

So I started digging around in the Uplay launcher files and found a way to more or less bypass the launcher while still being able to use a legitimate installation. It’s actually very easy once you know how, because apparently, Ubisoft’s developers don’t like to click “Play” every time they launch their own game either.

To clear up any confusion: Please note that this method still requires you to have uPlay installed. The launcher needs to be able to start, so broken uPlay installations will not work! It is also not a way to circumvent the uPlay DRM but merely a workaround so you don’t have to use the mouse to start an uPlay game any more.

Here’s what you have to do:

uplay1

Go to your Steam library and right-click FarCry 3. Select Properties.

uplay2

In the window that opens, select Set Launch Options …

uplay3

In the Launch Options dialog, enter the following …

-uplay_dev_mode -uplay_dev_mode_auto_play -uplay_dev_mode_auto_quit

… and click OK.

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Start the game via Steam (Big Picture or otherwise) and the Uplay launcher will appear, but instead of having a grey border, it now should sport a reddish one as shown above. The “Play” button will not even show; instead, it’ll boot directly into the game after updating/cloud syncing, and when you quit the game, the launcher will also close without showing the after game report, jumping directly back to Big Picture mode instead.

This should work for all recent Ubisoft releases that use the Uplay launcher, for example, Assassin’s Creed III. If not, please comment below with what other game this method didn’t work.

14 thoughts on “How to bypass the Uplay launcher with Steam’s Big Picture mode

  1. Pingback: Some more about skipping the Uplay launcher | Richard Kämmerer

    • Sadly, I couldn’t find any new method so far. Thanks for the heads up, I’ve updated my posts to reflect the new state of affairs.

      • Ah damn. Well hopefully something turns up for this. I found a program someone made that closes the uplay launcher on the Steam forums if you are interested in that.

        • That’s rather easy to do with the help of AutoIt or AutoHotkey, but I would prefer Ubisoft getting over themselves and re-enabling developer mode.

  2. As of 05/27/2014 this DOES work to auto launch Watch Dogs!

    Not sure about other games, but it worked a treat. Followed the crossed out guide for my watch dogs shortcut in Steam (not big picture, but regular) and then double clicked my Watch Dogs game and it went into uPlay and then launched Watch Dogs without stopping at the annoying uPlay screen. Whee!

    Now I can just start it and get my snack or drink while it loads. 8-P

    • Now that’s interesting! Do you have any other uPlay titles on Steam by any chance?

      EDIT: I just tested this again with FarCry 3 on Steam. Now this game just automatically starts after
      the launcher appears, without any need to use parameters at all. Does Watch_Dogs behave differently?

  3. Originally I did NOT have any command line options and it simply launched uPlay. So I used the ones from the article and it worked perfectly. I did remove them and uPlay shows launching but goes into the game after syncing. After putting the command line options back, there is no change. I suspect that maybe uPlay is launching itself the first time and forcing you to start the game manually or the command line options alter some config file so it does not happen again. *shrug*

  4. Yeah, that’s actually the Steam version of the uPlay launcher doing this. It’s like this for a while now. Unfortunately, if you purchase non-Steam versions of uPlay games, you still have the annoying version.

  5. ok so uplay appears to have made something work for at least the 2 games I have(farcry 3 blood dragon and splintercell blacklist) now my problem I have with uplay is for some when it auto loaded my game the game would crash, so I would have to click on it anyways… well I tried this figuring it wouldn’t hurt… and now the game starts up fine! and I still have my steam overlay(wasn’t working ether for me) so thanks! havnt tested it with blood dragon yet, so I will post once I give it a shot.

  6. This is working on SplinterCell Conviction, FarCry 3, Assassins Creed 1+2+BH+R+3+BlackFlag for me

  7. DEAR PEOPLE FROM THE FUTURE: Here’s what we’ve figured out so far:

    You can still make it work by adding a link to Uplay.exe and the uplay url of the game in the Launch Options. You can find this url (it will look like uplay://launch/some/numbers) by creating a shortcut to the game in your Desktop from uplay and looking at the shortcut’s properties. I just tried with Assassin’s Creed IV like this:

    Program: “C:\Program Files (x86)\Ubisoft\Ubisoft Game Launcher\Uplay.exe”
    Launch Options: uplay://launch/273/0

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