GOG losing money, going back to basics

GOG also will let you download the installers and stash them somewhere against the day the cloud fails. (Hasn’t happened yet, but it might…)

I definitely appreciate that. I do hope that most of the games I love can just be dragged-and-dropped, but obviously some do need installers…

Unfortunately, other games simply won’t run from a GOG install. On my OneXPlayer, which has Intel Iris Xe graphics (biggest drawback of the system by far) running at 2560x1600, neither Saints Row 2 nor SW: Republic Commando would run. SR2 ran after a couple hours research and a config file replacement from a fan site, SWRC never did. Can GOG no longer be bothered to make the effort to track down SR2’s issues with high-res displays and fix them? It’s still for sale for ten bucks.

GOG’s current efforts are inconsistent at best, assuming they are still happening as opposed to just coasting. My guess is that they worked hard at first, got big, and couldn’t maintain their quality level.

Yeah I feel the same way.

I disagree. GOG’s main use case for me was rescuing old games from the dustheap of history. Before they came along, there were decades worth of games you pretty much couldn’t buy anymore - there were occasionally reissues or compilations of some of the big names, but even those would go back out of print. And you certainly couldn’t get any of those things in a convenient digital package. At least, not legally.

With digitally released games, anywhere that’s ever sold it generally just keeps on selling it. I’m not saying nothing ever disappears, but when it does these days, odds are it’s either been delisted in favor of a remaster, or they licensed something (music, guns, cars, etc) with an expiration date on that license that they didn’t want to or couldn’t renew. And GOG isn’t in any better position to deal with either of those things than any other store.

The main value of GoG for me is that they repackage older games in a way that a) I can play them with a clean conscience and b) I don’t have to twiddle with the emulators and the DOSBoxes etc. so much. It is far from a perfect solution; besides the incompleteness of the library often poor versions of games are featured due to the lack of Commodore/Atari and other options. But if you look at it from a cup-half-full perspective, it’s pretty great.

I’m old, though, and obviously it’s not smart to build a business model around guys like me. Well, golf builds a business model around old guys too, I suppose, but those clubs can sell for a lot of money.

So much this.

Also, it should be obvious to all why “provide endless tech support for a 15-year-old game that no one buys at $5.99” is not a business model. (Though I wish it were as much as everyone here.)

I’ve mentioned this before, but I found a serious motivation for gog and DRM-freedom with having kids who play games on a different computer. With Steam, only one of us can play at a time and there’s no way to have LAN games unless I buy a copy per child. Origin is even worse, not letting more than one computer even be logged in at a time. Epic currently is lax about it but I don’t expect them to keep that stance for long since it’s not part of their ideology.

For me the rescue mission was not just a package of the files but also getting it running and that meant I considered the GOG version superior to versions anywhere else. I definitely agree with @RickH that for me it feels like they realised that they could get away with extracting the files and letting users fend for themselves - but the problem is nowadays publishers are doing the same and putting it on Steam.

It used to be “Download the Steam version, and then apply these patches, replace these files, edit this config file. Or get the GOG version”. That’s the space where I thought GOG could easily win over all the other stores - not necessarily even doing any development or programming, more collecting and applying the relevant fan patches. Nowadays the GOG version is pretty much the same as what you can get elsewhere so it doesn’t get much special consideration.

“Sell other people’s work without consent” (fan patches) seems like it might be even more flawed as a business model than “endless free tech support for other people’s games”

It’s different legwork - getting permission from the patch makers just like getting the rights to release the game - but that’s the kind of “back to basics” I’d be interested hearing them doubling down on, but I guess what I thought made them special was not at all what they considered important.

The classic example I always heard of the GOG win used to be Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines, but I googled the state of that and nowadays the GOG version still comes with the basic unofficial patch … but if you want the “plus” version of the patch you gotta do your own hacking and it’s not clear if it’s up-to-date with the newest release so maybe nowadays it’s easier to get a clean install from Steam and patch that. Or maybe you can delete the mod from the GOG version and then you can re-patch it and…wait is the GOG version now worse than the Steam version?

Just like streaming media, I actually want to watch my legitimate copy of a movie but wait I can’t stream 4K because of course desktops are treated as second class citizens except Edge is secure enough to let you stream at 1080p but wait if you have a Win10 app maybe that might work … Yeah, I bought a movie this year and wow was it hard to figure out how to play it so DRM can be pretty awful. But PC DRM was a bigger deal when it was codes and manual lookups that blocked you playing. Steam barely counts as DRM anymore because I need it around to store all the games I can’t fit on my hard drive and carry my save games between computers.

One of the issues with GOG doing the legwork on getting games up and running is that lazy publishers will take the GOG-distributed files and just dump them on Steam. That added value is suddenly gone, and there’s no way for GOG to stop it since it’s such a small player. Nevertheless, they’ve done some really cool stuff fairly recently, such as allowing for DOS games to have cloud saving, or adding cloud saving support without the intervention of the devs, but there’s still a lot to be done. I think one thing that could help them is to have multiple ‘tiers’ for certain games. For many games, there are fan patches that just sort out some bugs and can be considered essential. And then there are other fan patches that add a ton of added value by restoring content and rebalancing. These patches are sometimes near-essential for some games (depending on the game) but gog won’t provide them because they’re controversial among the fanbase. It would be a great move to let the user choose which level of fan patches they want and have them preinstalled.

If GOG Galaxy was all about installing fan patches/widescreen hacks/auto edit config files/registry settings/mods that would be amazing.

Sure, I agree. That would be amazing. From my perspective as a game player.

Now think about it from GOG’s perspective. So they have to provide tech support for someone else’s 15-year-old game in perpetuity, and they can sell that game for about $10 maximum. Great, they did dozens of hours of work, now 1 game works! Oops, Windows 11 just came out and every fan patch just stopped working. Time for more work. For games that fewer and fewer people are interested in. That sell for $5-10. Oh and btw, GOG doesn’t have access to the source code of the games, nor do they have permission to change it even if they did.

Their competitor is Steam, who only has to provide tech support for Steam and, uh, the 5 Valve games that Valve ever made. They built all those products from the ground up so if they have to, they can tweak code. And they can sell other people’s games for $60 and do no work to support them.

You’re coming up with some great ideas that would be cool for us, but would absolutely sink GOG.

I guess someone at GOG heard you, heh. Though, classic releases tend to be on Thursdays when they happen so I had a hunch there would be a good surprise today. Three SSI titles that you can’t find on Steam in the form of Questron II, Sword of Aragon, and Wizard’s Crown.

OMG I keep hearing how good Sword of Aragon is. Sold.

I’m still wondering what happened to the No One Lives Forever franchise. It’s near the top of GoG’s community wishlist. I guess it’s abandonware at this point, which is kinda sad.

It’s always been a rights issue with that game. They’d release it if they could.

Heh, I’m just sitting in my lawn chair mulling the “Good Ol’ Days” when GOG was the definitive source for old games as I see their future as … a backup/archival dump site where they give up pretending to support their abandoned exclusives I guess? Maybe they’ll just end up as the Internet Games Archive hosting disk images and selling Steam and Epic keys …

Or maybe they’ll pull a complete left field move and put all their exclusives on some VMs like Stadia or nVidia GeForce Now thingy (and provide the VMs for the DRM-free bit), now THAT would be a surprise move (wait is this not a solution to the support problem?!)

Let’s just say it’s a bit of a mess. ;)