GOG, a praise.
GOG is a digital game distribution site. It is comparable to Steam, but it doesn’t have a DRM like Steam does and offers a better price.
GOG and Steam
The fact that GOG doesn’t have a DRM is, in my eyes, one of the biggest pluses. When the service goes down, temporarily or forever, you still have your local copy. Even when your account gets banned, you still have the local copies.
The biggest downside is that you currently miss some of the convenience Steam offers. One of those conveniences is auto-updating. This is something I currently miss, but it will be addressed soon with GOG Galaxy, an OPTIONAL client.
GOG has gained a lot of fans since it has launched. As mentioned before, the games are DRM free. In my eyes, this shows that they trust their consumers. The reason I say that is because more often than not, the DRM’s in place to protect from pirates, hurt the consumers, while the pirates just use a crack, circumventing the DRM entirely. By not using a DRM, the pirates don’t have to crack it, but the consumers won’t have a DRM system which may bother them.
As Tommy Refenes, developer of Super Meat Boy, once said, you cannot stop piracy.
The reality is the fight against piracy equates to spending time and money combating a loss that cannot be quantified. Everyone needs to accept that piracy cannot be stopped and loss prevention is not a concept that can be applied to the digital world. Developers should focus on their paying customers and stop wasting time and money on non-paying customers. Respect your customers and they may in turn respect your efforts enough to purchase your game instead of pirating it.
As a result of piracy developers feel their hand is forced to implement measures to stop piracy. Often, these efforts to combat piracy only result in frustration for paying customers. I challenge a developer to show evidence that accurately shows implementation of DRM is a return on investment and that losses due to piracy can be calculated. I do not believe this is possible.
This was also stated in a 2011 paper, Music Downloads and the Flip Side of Digital Rights Management Protection. But not only that, DRM seems to also make pirates from people who would’ve otherwise bought it.
Because a DRM-restricted product will only be purchased by a legal user, …”only the legal users pay the price and suffer from the restrictions,” the study said. “Illegal users are not affected because the pirated product does not have DRM restrictions.”
“In many cases, DRM restrictions prevent legal users from doing something as normal as making backup copies of their music,” Vernik said. “Because of these inconveniences, some consumers choose to pirate.”
The research challenges conventional wisdom that removal of DRM restrictions increases piracy levels; the study shows that piracy can actually decrease when a company allows restriction-free downloads.
“Removal of these restrictions makes the product more convenient to use and intensifies competition with the traditional format (CD’s), which has no DRM restrictions,” Vernik said. “This increased competition results in decreased prices for both downloadable and CD music and makes it more likely that consumers will move from stealing music to buying legal downloads.”
“Unlike in earlier literature, we examine consumers’ choices among all the major sources of music,” Desai said. “By analyzing the competition among the traditional retailer, the digital retailer and pirated music, we get a better understanding of the competitive forces in the market.”
The research also revealed that copyright owners don’t necessarily benefit from a lower amount of piracy. “Decreased piracy doesn’t guarantee increased profits,” Purohit said. “In fact, our analysis demonstrates that under some conditions, one can observe lower levels of piracy and lower profits.”
“[The late] Steve Jobs said it best: ‘Why would the big four music companies agree to let Apple and others distribute their music without using DRM systems to protect it? The simplest answer is because DRMs haven’t worked, and may never work, to halt music piracy.'” Vernik said. “And our research presented a counter-intuitive conclusion that in fact, removing the DRM can be more effective in decreasing music piracy than making the DRM more stringent.”
So yes, I’m not a fan of DRM systems. Not only for what the quotations say, but also because they hurt me. Who can forget the SimCity launch debacle… Or even a Steam offline mode which did not want to work, resulting in my not being able to play the games I bought. Or when Steam’s servers are unavailable again…
Still, the DRM is not all. GOG also offers fair pricing. Usually this means games are in dollars in all regions. Steam has been using local currencies since 2008 (source). This, sometimes, creates huge differences in prices. At the moment of writing, 1 euro = 1,36081 US dollar. This means a 60 euro release is nearly 82 dollars.
Lately publishers asked to have pricing in the local currency for GOG as well. This is now an option for publishers/developers when they want to publish a game. Since a lot of users felt betrayed and GOG saw that, they told their users how they would fix it. Now they offer coupons to consumers when regional pricing is used to compensate for it. (source) While they didn’t HAVE to do this, they did.
The bottom line is simple: there may be companies that won’t work with us (although we will work hard to convince the most stubborn ones ;). Yes, it means we might miss out on some games, but at the same time GOG.com will remain true to its values and will keep on offering you the best of DRM-free gaming with Fair Prices.
GOG offers a great deal for gamers. While not all games are on there, the games are DRM-free and prices are fair for everyone. Moreover automatic updates, achievements and more are coming to GOG soon with GOG Galaxy.
So seriously, I love GOG. No DRM, better prices and the service is in most cases better than Steam. While we do not have everything, we soon will have what we need.