GOG.com: numbers, controversy, outlooks and great classics
The latest weeks have probably been among the most turbulent ones in the brief history of Good Old Games: the retrogaming store has caused controversy, released “new” classic titles of the PC gaming past and has preannounced an important novelty for the product type that will soon be available on its virtual shelves. The digital delivery service created by the Polish publisher CD Projekt is in a sense victim of its own success, and of the ample trust granted by its users as an alternative channel for on-line videogame purchases.
Three are the self-praised features that discriminate GOG.com from the other digital delivery services for PC: games delivered with no annoying and useless anti-copy technologies (DRM), flat prices all over the world, “extra” (and maybe exclusive) contents available for almost every game in catalogue. The publisher says it wants to continue pursuing the way outlined by these three directives, but it also plans to renew itself by diverging from the initial mission of becoming the cornerstone of legal retrogaming on the computer.
After two years of public betatesting and three years of overall activity, GOG.com has reached the important goal of 6 million downloads of unique games: celebrations for the event included the free limited release of Broken Sword: Shadow of the Templars “Director’s Cut” and the gift of the entire store catalogue to the user who made the 6 millionth download. GOG.com has established itself with the public of retro-players but also with publishers, and on November it announced the intention of expanding its business to sale of recent games in addition to the vintage ones.
“These new titles will have to come at a new, higher price point“, GOG.com managing director Guillaume Rambourg explained, “but our key focus will always be on the same core values that have made GOG.com great so far: completely DRM-free games, flat prices everywhere in the world, and extra content and goodies for our fantastic customers“. Now GOG.com wants to become “the best alternative digital distributor out there” after the unreachable Steam by Valve.
A service called “Good Old Games” that starts selling recently made games? Controversy and uproar among users were predictable, and for such reason the store tried to clear up doubts with a mini-FAQ on the matter: Good Old Games has officially become “GOG.com”, expands its catalogue with newer products but will continue to have a strong fondness for classic games. The digital store new releases seems in fact to prove such fondness: between November and January GOG.com welcomed gems like Ultima VII, the very enjoyable productions of the historic British publisher Team17 (Worms United, Alien Breed, Superfrog, World Rally Fever) and the as much enjoyable (and long awaited) real time tactic Syndicate.
Another reason for hot debating has then come from the actions of CD Projekt, the aforementioned company which owns GOG.com: the Polish publisher doesn’t like DRM technologies, handles its own users with great care but gets the hammer when it’s needed to chase the alleged “pirates” who download The Witcher 2 from the BitTorrent network by sending legal threats that request payment of substantial amounts of money or else… CD Projekt strongly advocated its actions talking about improbable “secret” technologies with which it can find the pirates without the risk of dragging absolutely innocent people in, but in the end the company had to give up to the “serious concern about our actions” shown by a growing number of users and abandon the witch hunt against The Witcher 2 pirates.
Controversy aside, GOG.com continues to work to expand its games offer and welcomes a new, influential publisher: this Thursday Square Enix made its debut in the store’s catalogue, an undoubtedly heavy addition considering how many and which franchises the Japanese publisher owns after the takeover of Eidos Interactive. The first two Square-Eidos games released on GOG.com are the assassin “simulator” Hitman, “brutally” difficult now as 11 years ago, and the RPG FPS legend Deus Ex.
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