What exactly is GOG.com?

This post is not sponsored by GOG and is intended to be an informational article for weekly GOG-related articles.

GOG.com is a storefront for digital PC games, with a greater emphasis on old, classic titles as well as the concept of DRM-free. Started and owned by CD Projekt (which owns the sister company CD Projekt Red, responsible for The Witcher games), GOG.com was their answer to providing easy access to classics from as far back as the DOS era, while optimizing them and making them compatible on modern PCs.

The front page of GOG.com.
The front page of GOG.com.

Today, the platform has grown to hold over 2,800+ games at the time of writing, including classic titles such as Sierra’s games, the Dragon’s Lair Trilogy and Planescape: Torment among others, to the odd AAA titles of yesteryear from Electronic Arts and 2K Games, all the way to indie hits such as Undertale and Stardew Valley.

Cool! What’s in GOG for me?

Classic titles typically have troubles starting up on later PCs with newer processors and operating systems, so when they aren’t securing the rights to resell an old franchise and giving it a breath of life, GOG is working on integrating solutions, patches, and bug-fixes to allow games to not only perform better than they used to but also enable them to play on newer computers.

The DRM-free focus of the store is also one of its strongest selling points. Its strict policy on DRM (short for Digital Rights Management, which is typically implemented as a check to make sure your game is genuine or activated – recently manifesting in forms that require an internet connection, with failure meaning the game may become unplayable) means that the games purchased from there do not need any additional clients to be played, nor do they need activation by a third party server; they just play. The games are perfectly install-able and playable in an offline environment thanks to their neat installers – provided you have downloaded them first.

The DRM-free focus also means that you do not have to configure your account for family sharing across computers. Simply install the games you would like your family to play on your target PCs in the same household. They will not be forced to quit a game you shared the moment you play a game of your own.

The installer for Enter the Gungeon. By accessing the options, you can choose where to install the game (which is saved across GOG installers on the same PC) and whether you want a shortcut on your desktop. It also tells you how much free space you have on your target drive.

Curation is also a strength (and admittedly, weakness) of GOG. Through their curation, the games that do make it to GOG are assured to be worth your time and not quick asset flips. On the other hand, it means that sometimes games that are worth the time get turned down.

Does GOG have a game client just like Steam does?

Yes, and you get the choice to use it – or not. Enter the optional GOG Galaxy client. With Galaxy, you can download a game right away if installers aren’t your thing – and if they are your thing, Galaxy can download the installers for you as well.

Automatic updates, cloud saving, achievements, time tracking, in-game overlay with screenshot and FPS counter support among others are chief features to using Galaxy, as well as the library view of games and associated game management features.

Galaxy can also be used as the multiplayer provider for some multiplayer games, sometimes even allowing for playing online with Steam players through the Crossplay functionality (as seen in STAR WARS Battlefront II Classic or Stardew Valley).

If you lose access to the internet and for some reason, can’t access your account, Galaxy can also be used offline without the need for an account as a game launcher.

GOG Galaxy, showing the main library of games on the main part of the window, with installed games listed on the left pane. Currently MDK is updating, whereas Earthworm Jim, LIMBO and Moto Racer are awaiting updates.
GOG Galaxy, showing the main library of games on the main part of the window, with installed games listed on the left pane. At the time, MDK is updating, whereas Earthworm Jim, LIMBO and Moto Racer are awaiting updates.

Any other features?

GOG comes with a typical set of social features, including friends, chat, and profiles. Adding friends allows you to quickly chat with them or invite them to multiplayer games supported by Galaxy, and depending on privacy settings, allows you to view their profiles, so you can see the games they played, the achievements they gained or their status posts. You can even change your profile’s background to one from a game you own on the service.

Occasionally on the major seasonal sales, a couple of games are added to the GOG Connect program, which allows you to obtain a GOG copy of a game you own on Steam, provided that you link your Steam account to Connect (but you can’t unlink it later!), your Steam profile’s privacy is set to public, and you own any of the games listed at the time on Steam. Once you meet these conditions, you will be able to gain a GOG copy of said games, with the benefit of DRM-free and the compatibility for modern PCs. With that said, the titles added to Connectare always time-limited, so make sure you don’t miss them – and they’ll be yours even after they leave Connect.

Conclusion

Brought by the sister company to the company that brought The Witcher games, GOG.com is a curated storefront with an emphasis on getting old titles to work on new PCs and with the grace of DRM-free, selling both AAA and indie games, meaning you don’t have to rely on a client to get a game running, but you are welcome to use their optional Galaxy client.

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