Gamers are familiar with terms such as rights management (DRM) and the concept of always-online games. Steam competitor GOG Galaxy says no to both. Several AAA launch titles such as 2013’s SimCity were heavily criticized because of a mandatory “always-online” policy and DRM, which effectively shut down the game if the developer’s servers are having technical issues. According to Joshua Derocher of Destructoid, “SimCity is a decent game if it worked right, but the online dependency, forced multiplayer, and DRM ruin it.”
GOG (once known as Good Old Games) launched an open beta of GOG Galaxy, a game-distribution platform that seeks to rival Steam with one main selling point: no DRM. “DRM-free means no copy protection, online checks, or any other annoyances,” GOG said on their website. “It’s all about just you and your games and movies. You should feel you own the products you buy,” they said.
GOG was also adamant about bringing big-name franchises to the platform. “With GOG Galaxy, we can start bringing new, big games to GOG.com,” said Piotr Karwowski, VP of online technologies. “The first major release will be The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, which will offer automatic updates, achievements and stats. We’re getting ready to release and fully support even more AAA titles in the future,” he continued.
Much like Steam, there will also be a friends list, game time tracking, achievements, and chat. There will also be an online multiplayer and matchmaking solution that utilizes cross-platform play; those who bought the game on Steam can play against those who bought the game on GOG Galaxy, and vice-versa.
“For us, quality trumps quantity. We meticulously think about every feature and how can we make it better,” says Karwowski. “We also know that people want to have freedom of choice, so GOG Galaxy and its features are not forced on you. Making it optional is the best motivation for us to make it better; we want it to be so good that you’ll actually want to use it.”
Gamers can try out the GOG Galaxy open beta here. The platform is currently available to Windows and Mac OS X users, and a version for Linux is in the works.