In a now forgotten era of gaming some of the most recognisable franchises were born. During this time privacy, DRM and other modern issues simply didn’t exist for your average gamer and thankfully they don’t have to now.
Good Old Games offers an unparalleled service that brings some of the most acclaimed classic games to a digital platform free of some of the many issues that would otherwise make playing that 1989 copy of Space Quest a nightmare. Every single game offered on GOG is compatible with Windows XP, and perhaps more impressively, Vista which is no small feat considering both the notorious hostility of the operating system as well as the fact that some of the titles predate the ’90s. And while it may be a near impossibility to pick up a retail copy of Alone in the Dark at your local game store GOG certainly aren’t taking advantage of the fact.
Games are all either $6 or $10 and prices are fairly converted for all currencies, so residents of the UK won’t find themselves paying more than their distant American cousins. With a service as complex as this I half expected a patchy and incomplete library of games but browsing through the list I was more than pleasantly surprised. Fallout 2, Unreal Tournament and Prince of Persia, the list of undeniably ‘great’ titles goes on for a good hundred, and that’s without acknowledging the vast list of unrecognised or cult games hidden among the rest. While finding them would usually be a chore GOG has a couple of features that highlight the gems buried by poor marketing or tarnished by an unfair critics’ reception. The first and most obvious is the weekly ‘GOG Gem Promo’ where twice a month once previously unnoticed games get a spot in the limelight for 24 hours. Although it’s only a recent tradition the promotion has already proved its worth with choices such as the steam punk ‘Syberia’ and the cinematic ‘Another World’. GOG also offers users the ability to create ‘GOGMixes’, sharable lists of games with a running theme and a description for each. Popular lists include lists of compatible games for Linux and a list of the ‘best’ CRPGs but if you have an eye for a niche genre and want to share some lesser known cult titles there’s nothing stopping you.
When I asked what criteria a game has to fulfill to be added I got a surprisingly sensible answer, it has to be a Good Old Game. A quick bit of elaboration explained that for a game to be considered old it has to be at least three years old, although GOG is making an exception to this rule with the Witcher 2. Of course ‘good’ is a little more subjective but GOG aims to bring back both critically recognised games as well as cult titles that didn’t necessarily achieve commercial success. When you’re getting Fallout 2 for the price of a Big Mac and fries, it’s almost impossible to complain and the folks at GOG certainly aren’t giving you any reason to, what they are giving you however is the game with no strings attached. No title at GOG contains DRM, download limits or restrictions — the game is yours to keep, forever and play in whichever way you see fit. GOG believe that if you’ve bought the original that you shouldn’t be checked every step of the way to see if you’ve really bought the game. And they also believe that the only people who suffer the effects of DRM are people who legitimately buy the games. GOG’s user-friendly ethos goes much deeper than the face of the company and is certainly at the core of the service.GOG recently migrated its service away from being Geo-IP reliant and is offering money back on certain Witcher 2 transactions to mitigate regional pricing.
Underneath all the heavy concepts of standardised pricing and DRM, the service still stands on all four legs. At its most basic level, it still offers good old games at a cheap price in a friendly fashion. Purchasing takes less than two minutes and games can be downloaded with or without an extra client. A service that revived old games for use on new PCs without hassle was always going to hit the big time but between its battle against DRM, its superb user experience and the fair pricing GOG deserves all the success it gets