GOG Celebrates 10 Years Of Competing With Piracy And Being DRM Free By Saying So

from the doing-it-right dept

In gamer circles, Good Old Games, or GOG, is everybody's favorite go-to retort whenever someone brings up the necessity for DRM. While the platform has always been something of a kid brother to Valve's Steam, GOG has made a name for itself by refusing to allow DRM on any titles it sells and, more importantly, being hyper-engaged with its customers and community and fostering that relationship by being genuinely open and human. What many people might not know, however, is that GOG first started in Europe, trying to figure out how to compete with piracy and the grey market long before it waged its war on DRM.

Well, GOG is taking a moment to remind everyone of that fact while celebrating its 10 year anniversary.

The GOG.COM story began in Poland, 1994 – a time and place where bootlegging reigned supreme and legal games were a luxury that few could afford. These were the early days of CD PROJEKT – back then specializing in local retail distribution, but the job wasn't easy. After all, how do you compete with the grey market?

Our answer was to offer value that gamers were already used to and then some: beloved games in big beautiful boxes packed with goodies, professional localization, and prices that are simply reasonable. And it worked!

It did indeed. In fact, the story of GOG's anniversary is the story of one platform successfully competing with free, with a much bigger competitor, and having to drag wary publishers that might be scared off of the anti-DRM stance along for the ride... for ten years. For a decade now, GOG has built a business that started and is still largely centered around retro-games that are easily pirated in the video game industry of all places, where customers are far more likely to know the methods for piracy than in other industries. And, yet, here they are, retelling how it filled the market for retro-games by assuming many people actually still wanted developers to be rewarded for great game-making.

Good Old Games launches in open beta as a legal way to support classics at affordable prices. No longer abandoned, all games would come with tech support and sorcery to get them running on modern PCs. Every game stuffed with goodies and bonus content that tickles our inner collectors. Everything would be DRM-free – it's only fair after all, and it captures that feeling of ownership on your digital shelf.

And it was both that catering to the public demand for valid and working versions of these games, and of course the stripping out of frustrating DRM, that built up GOG's loyal following. It was merely a few years later when GOG was the platform for several major title day 1 releases, all of which had to follow the anti-DRM "ideology", as GOG puts it. That there is an honest to God DRM-free option is the full response to any publisher that insists DRM is must-have.


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  • icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 4 Oct 2018 @ 7:55pm

    A gentle reminder

    DRM (initialism for “Digital Rights Management”) — noun — closed-source black box code that gives control of at least part of a given electronic device to the company that either owns or operates the DRM code; the digital equivalent of an ankle bracelet tracking device for paying customers that does nothing to prevent copyright infringement by non-paying customers; a stupid fucking idea

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Shmerl, 4 Oct 2018 @ 9:32pm

      Re: A gentle reminder

      Digital Restrictions Management is more appropriate name for it. It doesn't manage rights, it takes them away.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Gary (profile), 4 Oct 2018 @ 8:11pm

    DRM

    DRm means you don't own what you bought. You can't copy it, resell it, or use it where you want to without permission.
    DRM is designed to encourage pirating the software - only the cracked versions work right.
    GOG shows that DRM isn't a necessary business model.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Oct 2018 @ 8:21pm

    blue boy isn't going to like this, is he? He hates it when people compete with piracy.

    ...you guys, blue basically admitted to being the biggest pirate!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    ryuugami, 4 Oct 2018 @ 9:32pm

    Happy birthday, GOG!

    Signed,
    an ex-pirate with over 350 games in their GOG account.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Shmerl, 4 Oct 2018 @ 9:38pm

    Kudos to GOG for advancing DRM-free gaming and happy birthday!

    By the way, they have a major giveaway to celebrate - Shadow Warrior 2. The promised Linux version never came out, but it works nicely in Wine+dxvk on Linux.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Jon Smith, 4 Oct 2018 @ 10:35pm

    The implied Boolean argument:

    1. One company did okay despite piracy
    2. Therefore, copyright law is unnecessary

    Doesn't fly. Without copyright law individual creators will make more restrictive content that is available only to their patrons.

    we tried it without copyright law, and the result was...copyright law. We also tried making rape, robbery and murder legal and that led to laws against those things.

    Don't like something? Don't steal it. If you do steal it, don't expect to be taken seriously by those from whom you are stealing.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Jajo (profile), 4 Oct 2018 @ 10:43pm

      Re:

      The implied Boolean argument:

      1. Copyright law equals DRM

      Doesn't fly. Because it's not.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 4 Oct 2018 @ 10:50pm

      Response to: Jon Smith on Oct 4th, 2018 @ 10:35pm

      _If you do steal it, don't expect to be taken seriously by those from whom you are stealing._

      what is this i don't even

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 4 Oct 2018 @ 11:23pm

      Re:

      I thought you got your big brother to beat Mike up. What’s the matter pussy?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 4 Oct 2018 @ 11:24pm

      John*

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 4 Oct 2018 @ 11:38pm

      Re:

      I don't think you read the same article I did. See, the point of this article is that DRM is unnecessary. Doesn't mention copyright law anywhere.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 5 Oct 2018 @ 12:23am

      1.) One company did okay despite piracy

      2.) Therefore, copyright law is unnecessary

      You have either intentionally misstated the argument for your own selfish purposes or you possibly refused to read the post. Either way, this ridiculous assertion displays a profound ignorance on your part.

      Without copyright law individual creators will make more restrictive content that is available only to their patrons.

      Have you heard of Patreon? Lots of artists who use that service already (try to) restrict their content to patrons. (Leaks happen.)

      we tried it without copyright law, and the result was...copyright law.

      “We’ve always done it this way” is not a good enough excuse to keep copyright alive in its current form—or to further expand it in ways that benefit only a few media conglomerates.

      We also tried making rape, robbery and murder legal and that led to laws against those things.

      [citation needed]

      Don't like something? Don't steal it. If you do steal it, don't expect to be taken seriously by those from whom you are stealing.

      If copyright infringement were theft—and the Supreme Court said it is not—you might have had a point.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      RyanNerd (profile), 5 Oct 2018 @ 1:56am

      Re:

      Flawed argument here. Claim: One company did okay despite piracy therefore copyright law is unnecessary. Rebuttal: Others have already pointed out that the article in question isn't about copyright. But the entire premise of the claim is wrong in the fact that SEVERAL examples exist where companies have successfully competed with free.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 5 Oct 2018 @ 4:48am

        Re: Re:

        A typical argument with these people. Every single time a company is successful without depending on DRM and the like, they're an anomaly, or an exception that proves the rule. Yet, the thousands of companies that fail every year despite depending on restrictive copyright should in no way be taken as an indication of a flaw in copyright itself. Also, questioning any part of current copyright law must mean that you want to abolish everything, there can be no fixes or shades of grey in a solution.

        It must be fun living in a way where reality can be whatever you decide it is at one given moment with no mind paid to consistency or logic.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 5 Oct 2018 @ 2:14am

      Re:

      Watch this video on the Prusa factory, and search 'Prusa I3' on Amazon, noting that Josef Prusa makes all his hardware designs and software contribution open source. Explain why his business is expanding without him maintaining exclusive control over his IP.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 5 Oct 2018 @ 4:27am

      Re:

      Oh, we already tried making robbery legal. It's called asset forfeiture.

      Also, you missed the "h" in your name, Grammar Nazi.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 5 Oct 2018 @ 4:43am

      Re:

      "The implied Boolean argument:"

      Well, it's certainly better than the implied boolean argument that you idiots tend to push.

      "Without copyright law individual creators will make more restrictive content that is available only to their patrons."

      ...which will then get operated by the non-patrons you outright refused to sell to once the DRM you foiled upon the legal purchasers inevitably gets broken.

      You really haven't learned a damn thing people are really doing, have you?

      "We also tried making rape, robbery and murder legal and that led to laws against those things."

      Those things also not only have demonstrable ill effects on society, but they have high standards of proof, due process and the ability to defend yourself and appeal after the fact. You know, the things you people demand are not available to people when you accuse them of piracy despite usually having little to no real evidence.

      Also, you know what else was tried? Prohibition. Guess how that turned out.

      "Don't like something? Don't steal it"

      I don't. Then, idiots like you try to block me from accessing the content I want, try to stop me from using the stuff I have paid for in the way I wish, and then lie about me and pretend I pirate anyway.

      Again, if only you'd identify yourself so I don't accidentally give you any money instead of to someone who deserves it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 5 Oct 2018 @ 4:44am

        Re: Re:

        "get operated by the non-patrons"

        Operated? That should say obtained..

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 5 Oct 2018 @ 10:23pm

        Re: Re:

        Again, if only you'd identify yourself so I don't accidentally give you any money instead of to someone who deserves it.

        That assumes they've ever created anything that was for sale, rather than just lied about it, and given how dishonest they are I really doubt that to be the case.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Oct 2018 @ 6:08am

    I imagined something like this to replace the original Napster (thanks for nothing metallica!), but instead of free uploads and downloads, I would charge a $1 dollar for all uploads (including remixes like you find on SoundCloud) and give some of the profits to the respective record companies/publishers.

    I don't know if this would have worked financially or legally (ESPECIALLY LEGALLY).

    (<legal>I own all rights to this idea from now until the end of time</legal>)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Oct 2018 @ 7:09am

    GOG (or if not on GOG, itch.io releases) is vastly preferable to DRM-locked Steam. On top of Steam's unnecessary and clunky social media features, having a library of games DRM locked that also requires periodic internet access to validate and play is really not ideal for gamers.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 5 Oct 2018 @ 7:47am

      Re:

      Then you would be in the minority of gamers, if you even are one. The vast majority of gamers use Steam and largely don't have any issues with it.

      Steam does not do DRM, that's still up to publishers and devs to implement. You can absolutely post a DRM-free game to steam, Steam just doesn't have a policy about it like GOG does.

      I won't deny I wouldn't mind all my games on Steam being DRM free, but that doesn't mean that GOG is vastly preferable to it, or that it isn't ideal.

      On top of Steam's unnecessary and clunky social media features

      So don't use them.

      having a library of games DRM locked that also requires periodic internet access to validate and play is really not ideal for gamers.

      Not all games require this. I don't think even most games require this. Despite that, if you don't have an internet connection, how are you using GOG and Steam anyway? Your argument is invalid.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Stephen T. Stone (profile), 5 Oct 2018 @ 9:13am

        Re: Re:

        The vast majority of gamers use Steam and largely don't have any issues with it.

        I would wager that a majority of gamers do have issues with Steam, but the service’s benefits outweigh its issues to a tolerable point for those gamers.

        Steam does not do DRM

        Steam is arguably a form of DRM in and of itself.

        I wouldn't mind all my games on Steam being DRM free

        Then ask Valve to make DRM-free games a Steam standard rather than a mere option.

        if you don't have an internet connection, how are you using GOG and Steam anyway?

        As far as I know, GOG does not require you to have an Internet connection for the purpose of periodic check-ins with the service. GOG is a marketplace, not a front end for running games purchased through the site.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 5 Oct 2018 @ 9:29am

          Re: Re: Re:

          I would wager that a majority of gamers do have issues with Steam, but the service’s benefits outweigh its issues to a tolerable point for those gamers.

          Fair argument, I could see both ways. I personally don't have any issue with Steam. Most of my issues come from devs who put DRM into their games or otherwise do bad things with their code.

          Steam is arguably a form of DRM in and of itself.

          How so? As far as I know if a game is put on steam without DRM Steam doesn't require any check-ins or add additional DRM. Though I think they do offer some if requested.

          Then ask Valve to make DRM-free games a Steam standard rather than a mere option.

          Not a bad idea but, as I said, I don't have a problem with Steam as is. But it's a good suggestion, I may do that.

          As far as I know, GOG does not require you to have an Internet connection for the purpose of periodic check-ins with the service. GOG is a marketplace, not a front end for running games purchased through the site.

          Steam is no different in this regard. It's easier in some cases to launch games through their front-end but not required. You can launch the games using just the executables, and at least for older games (I think new ones too) will place shortcuts on your desktop or start menu, just like if you installed it from a disk in the old days.

          Nor do a lot of those older games require you to have an internet connection to check in with Steam's servers to keep playing them. You can download games to your hard drive, yank the internet and play to your heart's content offline.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Grande and Cox, 5 Oct 2018 @ 10:58am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Sigh, here we go again.

            How so?

            When a game has DRM, the client is the one acting as the DRM. "But some games don't need the client to launch!" does not make the client any less of a DRM.

            Despite that, if you don't have an internet connection, how are you using GOG and Steam anyway?

            I could be the regular visitor of an internet cafe, or am allowed to visit GOG through my company's internet connection. Or through a friend's PC. The beauty with GOG is that internet is never a factor after you obtain the game installer; while Valve's landfill would raise a stink...definitely not a pun I swear.

            I lost the internet once for months, with the games I got from Valve's landfill being unplayable and offline mode broken. The games that did work were GOG's.

            So don't use them.

            Your game times are logged whether or not you want to. You can't completely disable a profile like on GOG (which makes your profile link lead to a 404, just like that). If you use chat and have friends, the games you play are always broadcasted; so your friends know you're playing HuniePop. Most of these can be mitigated with GOG and DRM-free media in general.

            I won't deny I wouldn't mind all my games on Steam being DRM free, but that doesn't mean that GOG is vastly preferable to it

            GOG is vastly preferable in that you don't need to ask if a game requires the client's DRM or not; all games on GOG are DRM-free. On the landfill, the fact that you know which games have Denuvo is a luxury the companies bestowed you - it is not mandatory to disclose third-party DRM usage, and even then it is almost always used only to say "this game uses more DRM than the basic client DRM.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 5 Oct 2018 @ 12:03pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              I'm not going to touch on the DRM side of things for this, but:

              >So don't use them.

              >Your game times are logged whether or not you want to. You can't completely disable a profile like on GOG (which makes your profile link lead to a 404, just like that). If you use chat and have friends, the games you play are always broadcasted; so your friends know you're playing HuniePop. Most of these can be mitigated with GOG and DRM-free media in general.

              So your answer to "don't use them" is you can disable it and if you ignore that and use it anyway people can see (despite there being an offline/sign out from chat mode)? Come on...

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 5 Oct 2018 @ 1:45pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              When a game has DRM, the client is the one acting as the DRM.

              And what about when the game doesn't have DRM? Then what is the client doing?

              Regardless of that, this is just faulty logic. If I write a batch script or .NET interface as a client to launch my games, it doesn't automatically become DRM, or act like DRM. It's just a different way to launch my games. The Steam client is no different. As evidenced by the fact that you can add non-steam games to your library and launch them from the client. It doesn't automatically add DRM to those games.

              "But some games don't need the client to launch!" does not make the client any less of a DRM.

              Neither does it automatically make it DRM. The client has absolutely nothing to do with DRM. DRM only comes into play if the developer chooses to use a third party DRM, or use Steam's built-in DRM wrapper. But both of those options are OPTIONAL. Steam doesn't DRM protect games by default.

              I could be the regular visitor of an internet cafe, or am allowed to visit GOG through my company's internet connection. Or through a friend's PC. The beauty with GOG is that internet is never a factor after you obtain the game installer

              And the same is true for DRM-free games on Steam as well as DRM protected games on Steam that don't require an internet check-in. What's your point?

              I lost the internet once for months, with the games I got from Valve's landfill being unplayable and offline mode broken.

              Then those specific games required internet check-in or, no offense, you were doing something wrong. Steam does not require internet check-in for all games on the platform. Otherwise Offline Mode wouldn't even be a thing. It's game specific.

              Your game times are logged whether or not you want to.

              Not if you are in offline mode.

              You can't completely disable a profile like on GOG (which makes your profile link lead to a 404, just like that).

              You can set your profile to private which basically does the same thing. (Instead of a 404, I think it either tells you you can't see it or just doesn't return results)

              If you use chat and have friends, the games you play are always broadcasted; so your friends know you're playing HuniePop.

              Again, not if you are in offline mode and Steam always allowed you to hide your status from your friends, and they now rolled out the ability to go invisible, but still be online.

              GOG is vastly preferable in that you don't need to ask if a game requires the client's DRM or not

              That would be a personal preference and really not all that relevant to Steam either.

              On the landfill, the fact that you know which games have Denuvo is a luxury the companies bestowed you - it is not mandatory to disclose third-party DRM usage

              How is that different than buying a game through ANY OTHER MEDIUM? This was the same 15 years ago when you went and bought the game disk from Walmart or Bestbuy. You still had no clue what DRM was on it and it had nothing to do with Steam.

              even then it is almost always used only to say "this game uses more DRM than the basic client DRM.

              No, it's really not. As I explained above, Steam's client doesn't wrap games in DRM by default. That's a developer decision.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Oct 2018 @ 8:57am

    Hey Tim!
    Aren't you supposed to admit you were paid a copy of Shadow Warrior 2 for this review? :P

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Gary (profile), 5 Oct 2018 @ 9:02am

      Re:

      And John Smith got a copy of Shadow Warrior 2 as well - Smith is shilling for GoG! :)

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 5 Oct 2018 @ 9:05am

      Re:

      I was paid one for reading it, so why not ;)

      Also, it's worth noting that despite me having been a member of GoG for much of the last 10 years and having been given many free games there, I also buy games - both though GoG and elsewhere. I've even bought games I already own for numerous reasons!

      Why, it's almost as if it is a live demonstration of why the regular trolls are wrong about real life..

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    NeghVar (profile), 5 Oct 2018 @ 10:52am

    I love their service. Many of the games which I still had CD-ROMs for I rebought. Even though I could configure DOSbox for each game on my own, They had the configurations optimized for each game plus a lot of the extras including manuals and other paperwork that came with the game.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Thad (profile), 5 Oct 2018 @ 11:29am

    I love GOG but I sure wish their Linux support was better.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      RyanNerd (profile), 5 Oct 2018 @ 12:37pm

      Re: Linux Support

      It's not that GOG doesn't support Linux (they offer many titles that do). GOG is not the decider on if a title will support Linux or not -- it's the developers who create the games that make that choice.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Thad (profile), 5 Oct 2018 @ 2:14pm

        Re: Re: Linux Support

        There are many games that have native Linux versions but which are Windows-only on GOG. The Saints Row series, for example, has Linux-native versions; they're available on Steam but not on GOG.

        Further, GOG's Galaxy client is only available for Windows. This means that if you're a Linux user, you don't get cloud saves, automatic updates, access to betas, or access to online multiplayer in games that use the Galaxy API to implement it.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Thad (profile), 5 Oct 2018 @ 3:00pm

          Re: Re: Re: Linux Support

          Correction: GOG Galaxy is available for Windows and Mac.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 6 Oct 2018 @ 5:05am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Linux Support

            Without an explanation from GOG, there's no way to know, but I strongly suspect it's one of two reasons:

            1. The linux versions may well have different rightsholders than the Windows version. There may be a sticking point in getting the rights.

            2. Unlike steam, GOG is a curated store, and they support all their games. That means that each game they sell will also cost them over time in support. It has to make economic sense to sell a game there (i.e. the numbers they sell need to cover the support cost,) or they lose money on it overall.

            My bet is on 2 being the major problem. There just aren't enough linux gamers, much as I'd wish otherwise.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              The Wanderer (profile), 7 Oct 2018 @ 3:31am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Linux Support

              That doesn't explain the lack of a Linux version of GOG Galaxy, though; the same games are available for Linux both with and without the client.

              Also, wouldn't they still need to support the game on Linux under Wine, whether they have a Linux-native version available or not? The support might be more limited, but it seems to me there'd still be a cost there, and quite possibly enough of one for the difference to be relatively minimal.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 7 Oct 2018 @ 11:29pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Linux Support

                Wine is much better than it used to be -- however getting games to work is quite a bit of work often with bugs

                GOG is under no obligation to support games intended for Windows that are running under Wine.

                I'm a software developer and use Linux exclusively. On GOG I ordered and paid for Divinity: Original Sin 2 (which only runs under Windows). I tried to get this to work using Wine and after about 6 hours I gave up. GOG gave me a refund without any problems. What a great company. I refuse to buy anything from Steam ing pile of crap.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • icon
                PaulT (profile), 8 Oct 2018 @ 12:15am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Linux Support

                "Also, wouldn't they still need to support the game on Linux under Wine, whether they have a Linux-native version available or not?"

                No, they really wouldn't, just as they wouldn't need to support anyone trying to run it on XP or OSX Snow Leopard if it's not listed as a supported OS. They specify the supported OSes for every title, and would be under no obligation to support anything not listed.

                They may agree to help anyway, but then it's likely that if the game was able to work correctly under Wine, they'd be supplying that version in the first place.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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