19 September 2010

And it's done.... Bye bye Good Old Games

(Update: So it's possible that this is all one big, huge, misguided publicity stunt. However, these are just rumours so we'll have to wait and see...)

Well, there's one less thing that's good about PC gaming. DRM-free older games on Good Old Games are no more. Seriously! Just go and have a look.

Sucks... doesn't it?

I hadn't even downloaded some of the games i had bought, because of our monthly download limit, such as Masters of Orion 1+2. They say, in the very light blurb on their replaced main page, that they will try and give a way to redownload the games for their customers some time this week. We'll see how that pans out.

As such, it's a nice little test of all these claims by companies, like Valve, who claim that if the worst comes to the worst and they are bought out or go out of business then they will release patches for their games to enable their customers to continue playing them. Not quite the same scenario since, if you have the installer for the game already then you're covered - which was one of the immense pros of GoG.com.

The two most disappointing aspects come of all this: It looks like the DRM-free model is dead. The idea, despite what GoG themselves have stated in their words, seems dead and unworkable. The reasoning for this is linked in with the second aspect which is that there is essentially no reason given for this closure. Worse, it was so sudden that it seems unreal. They had only just added new games and had a sale on Activision titles.

What their blurb seems to say is that "the idea of DRM-free old games is unworkable... but we couldn't make it work." Since they were the only game in town with this then... well, there was practically no competition and that potentially means that the publishers and developers who were making the contracts for their games on GoG.com didn't want the service to work. If the publishers and developers don't believe in the service then the service will not exist. Essentially, DRM-free games are gone; the future is a bleak mishmash of always connected DRM-authentication combined with ultra-small and lower quality games that contain little DRM but which are still tied to a service environment like Popcap and Zynga with a minority of small and lower quality independent titles like Evochron and Minecraft that subsist on their playerbases over incremental updates in a symbiotic relationship.

It's possible that publishers and developers will change their minds on how they treat and interact with their customers and my bleak prediction of the future of gaming will not come to pass. However, given the current economic and political trends that seems unlikely... The bright side of this all is that music will never suffer the same fate as games and movies due to the lower budgetary requirements and level of difficulty to produce a track or album (e.g. skillset, technology and manpower) than it is to make a movie, TV show or game.

I look at times like this and I wonder what sort of a world I will be experiencing in 10 years time...

GoG's release below:

We have recently had to give serious thought to whether we could really keep GOG.com the way it is. We've debated on it for quite some time and, unfortunately, we've decided that GOG.com simply cannot remain in its current form.

We're very grateful for all support we've received from all of you in the past two years. Working on GOG.com was a great adventure for all of us and an unforgettable journey to the past, through the long and wonderful history of PC gaming.

This doesn't mean the idea behind GOG.com is gone forever. We're closing down the service and putting this era behind us as new challenges await.

On a technical note, this week we'll put in place a solution to allow everyone to re-download their games. Stay tuned to this page and follow us on Twitter and Facebook for updates.

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