GOG Brings a Bright DRM-Free Future to Gaming

GOG Brings a Bright DRM-Free Future to Gaming
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The future of digital games is finally making physical games much less necessary, but with that comes the constant threat of new forms of DRM (digital rights management). GOG is a platform that bucks this trend, opting for a service that not only releases new games but also distributes a range of classic titles without DRM. 

Founded in 2008, GOG or what was Good Old Games, started in Poland and is a subsidiary of CD Projekt, the studio behind The Witcher and Cyberpunk 2077. The service, from its inception, was a place for users to find games that many other platforms may not have. With more recent games now on the platform, the DRM-free approach works as a breath of fresh air, ensuring players can enjoy the experiences without struggling with the many ways companies bloat the games in an attempt to curtail piracy. 

With GOG going strong and the hatred of DRM never stronger, it felt like a great time to catch up with the service and discuss how this sort of measure hurt the experience and the consumer. CGMagazine was lucky enough to get some time with Managing Director Urszula Jach-Jaki to dive into all things DRM and how GOG offers a much different experience.

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What makes GOG different from other platforms?

Urszula Jach-Jaki: From the very beginning, we tried to find our own way in the digital distribution space. When GOG launched in 2008, it was all about providing a convenient and user-friendly platform to revisit the Good Old Games we loved. Now, with our offerings expanded with exceptional indies and big hit releases, we continue this approach, providing a gamers-first platform with a 30-day refund policy, an optional client app, and respecting users’ need for ownership by releasing all games DRM-free.

How does GOG achieve such a vast library of DRM-free games compared to competitors?

Urszula Jach-Jaki: It again goes back to our foundation of building a space with gamers in mind. We believe gamers have the right to decide how they use, enjoy, and keep the games they buy, hence our dedicated DRM-free approach, which is distinctive to GOG. That’s why you won’t find such a variety of DRM-free games anywhere else.

While we understood that going that way will pose its own set of challenges, throughout the years of evangelizing DRM-free, we’ve managed to establish good relationships with many developers and publishers, even those who at first were against our approach. They already know us, trust us, and see that taking the DRM-free route is not a risk but an opportunity. 

Have games needed to allow a DRM-Free version to appear on the platform, or are concessions made for larger titles?

Urszula Jach-Jaki: All games on GOG are DRM-free, without exception. This means three things. First, you can always play the single-player content offline. Second, games you bought and downloaded can never be taken from you or altered against your will. Lastly, our GOG GALAXY client, an easy way to download and update games as well as play multiplayer modes, is, and will remain, optional for accessing single-player offline mode. While for others, DRM-free might mean different things, especially when modern games blend offline and online experiences, we are fully committed to those three rules to provide freedom of choice to gamers.

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How is GOG planning to grow in the coming years?

Urszula Jach-Jaki: There are a lot of different plans and ideas our team is either currently working on or researching as potential ways to grow and develop. All of them have one common denominator: keeping gamers at the centre of it all. I won’t be revealing anything here yet, as we prefer to over-deliver rather than over-promise. However, we’re keeping an eye on online-only games, as we see GOG’s growing audience is seeking a broader range of games.

We see that introducing new content, like online-only games, will help us cater to those needs. This will not influence our DRM-free approach. GOG will remain the best platform for single-player DRM-free gaming, with a dedicated approach to classics and game preservation—something that’s at the very core of who we are.

Why is DRM so bad for gamers and creators?

Urszula Jach-Jaki: The most important factor is the fact that games with DRM [digital rights management] apply limits on how and when you can use the content you paid for. You are forced to use specific platforms under specific conditions. For example, most DRMs require you to either confirm your license every time you load up the game or always stay online, even for single-player content. This basically means that access to the game you paid for is conditional—you can only access it if you’re online, if the DRM still works as intended, if the online server is still operating, and so on. 

In other words, DRM questions what you’re doing every step of the way. It’s hard to grow your trust in a company that doesn’t trust you and is releasing a product with a long list of limitations on how to use it. By choosing DRM-free content, be it games, music, or video, you know that the content you bought will remain with you—no matter when it was created or for what hardware.

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What are some ways GOG offers DRM-Free games but still avoids the issues of piracy?

Urszula Jach-Jaki: Piracy exists no matter what. We all know releasing games with DRM doesn’t change that; it merely slows down the process of cracking them. What I want to say here is that a person who wants to pirate a game will find a way to do it, and most importantly, it is a person that most likely wouldn’t buy the game in the first place. I believe instead of forcing intrusive DRM on gamers who buy legitimate copies of games, we should build their trust and focus on providing the best possible experience, like our 30-day refund policy or DRM-free approach, which are our trademarks. If you treat gamers with respect, they will respect you back.

* This article was originally published here


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