When Good Old Games announced today, out of the blue, that they are closing down, there was a disturbance in the gaming force, as if millions of gamers who like owning old gaming properties that are being squatted on by their publishers cried out in terror!
Only being the internet, nobody was really silenced…
Visitors to the site are greated with the following text, explaining that the site is now closed (mere days after mass-mailing a massive new Codemasters offer and the release of Age of Wonders on the service).
Dear GOG users,
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.
All the best,
Soapboxes were quickly ascended, as the sudden shutdown meant that thousands of gamers were now unable to access potentially hundreds of dollars of purchases.
It’s the core worry everyone has about Digital Distribution – the ability of some silent omnipotent force to suddenly sweep away a customers rightful purchases at the arbitrary drop of a hat – and to have one of the few runaway successes of the fledgling industry suddenly collapse with no real explanation, everyone was rightly miffed.
CDProjekt’s GOG Twitter Feed & Facebook were very humble about the shutdown and the wording gave everyone hope that a solution could be found, but with other recently collapses in the online service industry (specifically, APB) fresh in everyone’s mind, I doubt many people were optimistic. One of the last tweets from the company also made it clear that the company is facing pressure from some camps because of its DRM-free stance…
Sometimes it’s really hard being DRM-free… hard to keep things the way they are and keep management and publishers happy 🙁
Of course, the internet is full of the worlds most resourceful nerds and, very quickly, it was made clear that all was not as it seems…
The NeoGaf forum thread on the subject had this following insightful piece of advice from user AdrianWerner…
People, relax. It’s just a marketing stunt. Worse one ever. I don’t know who at CDP thought this was a good idea to drop the beta and go final in such manner, but he’s a moron.
And yes, it is a stunt, CEO warned financial forums couple days ago to ignore what will appear on Gog site soon. .t. It’s a mess overall…23rd there was supposed to be full blown conference (like the one in Spring, when they’ve shown Witcher 2 for the first time), but it was just annouced it won’t happen and there will be online conference instead.
Anyway, bassicaly GoG is simply ending it’s beta phase and going final, that’s all. Some speculate it will get a standalone client too.
Of course, this was debateable conjecture until someone dug up the mentioned ‘financial forum’ post.
(Updated from Gram.pl – now with a little less engrish!)
Attention! We scheduled a press conference on 22nd of September, early evening.
Information about this event should be soon available at GOG.com (please, don’t spread panic after reading what will be posted there :)). Please keep in mind, that it’s going to be an on-line conference and it’s going to be a very first time for us to try such thing :).
We basically closed all our schedules and we are going to send information about this event on Monday or Tuesday.
In a nutshell, this is almost certainly a marketing/PR stunt, presumably as CD Projekt seek to move the Good Old Games service out of the long-running ‘Beta’.
As mentioned above, we’re likely to see some changes to the service, including (potentially) a standalone integrated Steam-like client and DRM on certain releases (unlikely, given CDP’s previous stance on the topic). There’s also the outside chance that the service may be sold to another, larger, better funded (but unlikely to be driven by the same values) owner.
The question is, have Good Old Games bitten off more than they can chew with this skullduggery?
Whilst it’s easy to picture some out-of-touch marketing executive thinking “YES, we’ll scare everyone, then turn around and say ‘Just Kidding!'”, to essentially shit on the entire userbase in the hope of making a headline or two in order to draw attention to a re-launch can’t be a particularly good way to do it. The more hot-headed Twitter/Facebook responses on the matter include references to never purchasing from the site again, but whilst it’s easy to dismiss the Angry Internet Man as, well, being angry, they are the companies paying customers.
Regardless, Wednesday the 22nd of September is when we hear the true future of Good Old Games, whether CD Projekt wanted us to know that or not!
The GOG.com team have been drip-feeding updates over the last few days.
On the 20th, the following was announced, repeating that they’re adamant that existing users will be able to continue to download their old purchases (DRM-free):
First of all, we apologize everyone for the whole situation and closing GOG.com. We do understand the timing for taking down the site caused confusion and many users didn’t manage to download all their games. Unfortunately we had to close the service due to business and technical reasons.
At the same time we guarantee that every user who bought any game on GOG.com will be able to download all their games with bonus materials, DRM-free and as many times as they need starting this Thursday.
The official statement from GOG.com’s management concerning the ongoing events is planned on Wednesday. If you want to receive further information about GOG.com, please send an email to email@example.com if you’re a media representative or to firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re a user without a GOG account. If you have a GOG.com account you’ll be informed about all the news concerning GOG.com.
Yesterday (the 21st of September), a further statement was issued, confirming a official statement today (22nd):
We confirm that the official statement from GOG.com’s management concerning the ongoing events will take place on Wednesday at 12 p.m. EDT (6 p.m. CET)
Thanks for being with us.
They also linked to the following YouTube video…
…which happens to include a frame featuring Baldur’s Gate (source) – a game not previously available on the service – so it’s definitely looking more like a horrendously mismanaged relaunch than curtains for the service.
They state existing purchases will be available DRM-free, but there’s no clarification on future purchases.
Much has been made of the DRM-free status of their product being GOG.com’s one real USP – can they afford to ditch it?