Good Old Games Interview

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Earlier today, CD Projekt announced plans to launch an ambitious service called Good Old Games that will provide us with a means to purchase cheap, DRM-free PC games that are no longer easily obtainable. Classics such as Fallout, Descent, Jagged Alliance 2, and Sacrifice have already been confirmed for the service, with dozens more to be announced prior to GOG's launch in September. To get a better idea of how it will work and what games we can expect to see on the service in the months to come, we fired over a set of questions to CD Projekt's Tom Ohle:

GB: What prompted you to create the Good Old Games service? Is this something CD Projekt has envisioned doing for years?

Tom: If by saying "years" we can infer "1 and a half years" then absolutely! I think there's always been an issue with trying to legitimately buy older games, and that's essentially what caused some of the higher-ups at CD Projekt (long before I officially got involved) to start working toward the launch of I started with the company in February, and the site was already well underway; now it's just a matter of making sure everything works, signing more publishers and getting people excited.

GB: At the moment, there are only a handful of games depicted on the GOG website. Are you able to give us at least a partial list of games that you already know will be available at launch?

Tom: I'll mention some of my favorites that aren't on the teaser site... Jagged Alliance 2, MDK 2, Redneck Rampage, Kingpin, Lionheart, Descent 1-3, Shogo... ah the list goes on and on.

GB: In addition to classic titles, do you plan on offering new games on this service too? The Witcher, perhaps?

Tom: Not at the moment. There are so many good old games (yeah, I'll sneak that in wherever I can!) out there that we haven't signed on yet, that I think we could just release back-catalog games for a few years and still be trying to get more. Maybe some day we'll consider bringing in new games, but for now people have a lot of options in that area, with Steam, Direct2Drive, Impulse, etc.

GB: There are already a few services (Steam, GameTap, etc.) that are similar in scope to Good Old Games. What sets your service apart? Why should gamers be excited about it?

Tom: The full package we offer, I think, makes unique. We're offering the games really cheap, without copy protection, compatible with Vista and XP, and you don't have to install any software to get it all. Combined with our plans for community development -- a big forum section, user-submitted guides and screenshots, patches, mods, retrospective articles, game rankings and ratings, etc. -- I think we're giving people a pretty damn cool site. There's no reason we can't coexist with other digital distribution services -- everyone has something unique to offer.

GB: While offering the games DRM-free is great for us gamers, do you think this will scare away some publishers and developers worried about piracy?

Tom: Absolutely, it might. There's probably an equal number of publishers, though, that are excited by the prospect. Piracy is always a concern, and it's never really been easier to get illegal copies of games... but we think that most gamers would rather buy something legitimately than pirate it -- you just have to give them a reason. Our reasons being that the games are cheap and they'll work on your hardware. Oh, and it's legal. That's cool, too.

GB: How do you intend to keep all of these classic titles running with modern hardware and software? Couldn't future operating systems like Windows 9 introduce changes that make this very difficult?

Tom: Very good question, and I've been assured that our amazing programming team has it covered. It's quite a task for us to ensure compatibility with modern PCs, but by some stroke of genius it's worked out; we'll do everything in our power to make sure that we don't get shafted by future operating-system overhauls or other major advances in computing.

GB: In addition to compatibility issues, there have been a lot of unconventional copy protections used over the years (manual references, code wheels, etc.). How will you address these obstacles?

Tom: Magic. We'll use magic or whatever is at our disposal. I love code wheels -- if we have to offer up a printable code wheel, or give away the answer, or whatever -- we'll make it happen. We're going into unfamiliar territory with a lot of our plans for, and we're constantly adapting to make sure that gamers ultimately get what they want and need.

GB: How far back in time do you intend to take your game library? Could we see something as early as Dunjonquest or Akalabeth? How about full versions of classic shareware titles like Moraff's Revenge?

Tom: We could go back as far as we want, really. We'll be taking fan feedback into consideration when looking at which games we want to bring to the site, and in the end our goal is just to be a one-stop shop for the best PC games of all time. It doesn't really matter what time period they're from, as long as we can make sure they work.

GB: Should you obtain the rights to sell all of them, do you plan on offering entire series (the Ultimas, Wizardrys, Gold Box games, etc.) at a reduced price point?

Tom: Bundles are definitely something we're considering; they won't be offered initially, but we will offer them eventually.

Thanks for your time, Tom!