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In GOG We Trust

GOG: Good Old Games
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I made my first purchase from Good Old Games recently and thought this would be a good opportunity as any to get into why I really like the service.

Now, while there are some genuinely great games on GOG, not all the games there are good. Some are merely old and it may be easy for a sceptic to consider GOG the place where old games go to die. That would be selling GOG’s true worth short because this is very much one of those rare services geared towards the gamer rather than publishers.

The biggest indication of that is there’s no DRM. This is a major reason for me to go with GOG since I got tired a long time ago of being treated like a potential thief after paying for a product which may or may not work well.

Gamers don’t need DRM; gamers need CRM (Consumer Rights Management): software to spy on developers to ensure they’re fully committed to fixing the bugs they knew were going to be in the release version as well as all the bugs they were blissfully oblivious of.

I tolerate Steam’s DRM because it’s minimal but the fact authentication is tied to Valve’s servers is a cause for concern. What’s going to happen when the servers go down and Steam can’t phone home? It’s not just a hypothetical or consumer paranoia; a preview of this happened a week ago.

I set Steam to Offline Mode so minor hiccups like that aren’t going to impact my single-player experience but I’m deeply aware I can only play the Steam games I’ve paid for as long as Valve deigns to allow me. As the Steam Subscriber Agreement states:


Though it’s not explicitly stated, it could be inferred by someone familiar with complex legalese that Valve also doesn’t guarantee its Shift keys work.

In contrast, when you pay for a game on GOG, the game is yours to keep. If GOG ever goes down, you don’t lose access to the games you paid for. You can still play them and you can always reinstall them from backups you are free to make.

The second reason GOG is great is every single game is available to every region for the same exact price. This might not be important for gamers in the US but it is a critical point for non-US gamers. For no good reason whatsoever, I still cannot buy the X-Com compilation on Steam because it’s not available for me to purchase. These are ancient games yet the publisher has decreed that they should only be available to selected gamers on Steam. It’s outrageous Valve has agreed to that just as it’s outrageous Valve has acceded to other publishers’ ridiculous pricing schemes for different regions.

The final reason why we should all keep faith in GOG is the games are guaranteed to work in Windows XP and Vista. This is big because not all these games were designed for modern operating systems. It’s nice to simply install and play a game without worrying about conventional memory, upper memory blocks, EMS, XMS, Soundblaster drivers, VESA drivers or the other nonsense gamers had to contend with back in the day simply to play a game on the PC.

So, those then are the reasons why every single gamer should get down on their knees and give praise to GOG.

Reasons to avoid? Well, the games are old. This means older game designs with aged graphics, eccentric interfaces, ponderous pacing and punishing difficulty. In addition to that, the selection on GOG is limited compared to other digital distribution services and some games might be available elsewhere at lower prices.

All things considered, however, GOG deserves support. The more gamers GOG gets, the more publishers will come around to GOG’s way of doing business. That would be a very good thing since this is how games — good, old or otherwise — should be sold.

Posted in Games, Good Old Games.