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First we can't escape the fact that on Sunday, it looked like GOG.com was shutting down its operations. You guys have since apologized for the marketing stunt but you must have known that this kind of thing could be distressing to your loyal customers. Looking back do you think you should have promoted the re-launch differently?True or not, it's just not a solid attitude PR-wise.
Indeed after the "closure" on Sunday there were a lot of comments with the whole range of reactions - from votes of support and concern to explicit lyrics. We were looking at this carefully and we have decided to adjust our plan, coming up with additional statement on Monday clearly communicating, that all our users will be able to re-download all of their games DRM-free from Thursday onwards and then on Tuesday we decided to release a teaser video, which had a few shots of the new site and Baldur's Gate in it. Finally, the monk's outfits came up as a last minute idea to ask for real redemption for our sins - i.e. the sudden "closure" and lack of access to the site for 3 days.
Again, we have clearly admitted during our conference, that we think the industry is dead serious these days and we - being the old-school gamers we did plan a game with our audience. Yes, we wanted to make something really special for our 2nd anniversary and at the same time popularize good old games a bit more.
We are continuously looking through our forums and the web and yes, we still have a few surprises up our sleeves for our dear users. Obviously, we will be working hard now to regain the trust of the users, who did not feel good about our stunt, as we do value them and both the happy and unhappy ones are a vital part of our good old games community. I would like to encourage our faithful users to keep an eye on their mailboxes - there will be some surprises coming their way real soon.
Looking at the past week and analyzing the reactions and comments about GOG.com all across the web, I have to say that we have clearly underestimated one thing. We realized that a lot of users were thinking of GOG.com as any other digital distribution platform, where a constant Internet connection is needed to access and play the games you bought. While with GOG.com, you download the games and then you enjoy them without the necessity to connect to the Internet. The option of unlimited numbers of re-downloads of the games you bought is just a backup plan for our users - not a necessity.
More and more titles are becoming Internet-dependent and thus force users to have a working connection simply to... play the titles they bought. Not everybody has access to the Internet anywhere, anytime not mentioning that your ISP can sometimes go down as well, which is a concern for gamers. The industry needs to address that.
On to the future.
You have added Baldur's Gate to GOG.com as part of the relaunch. How hard was it to get the DRM free rights to this game?
It has indeed taken us quite some time to make this deal happen. We have launched the Atari titles back in March/April (Master of Orion 1&2, Outcast, Alone in the Dark or Blood, etc.) - they were met with a great reception from our user base. Actually, almost all of Atari's back-catalogue is exactly what we would definite as good old games. Great titles, which we all remember and which with time are getting only better. Still, on the March Atari's line-up announcement something was missing and we have clearly stated, that we did not have the famous RPGs at that time. Since then we were working hard to deliver to users - allow me to use these words - the RPG greatness - ... and here we are. It has taken quite some time and convincing, as we had to get Hasbro on board and being DRM-free does not always makes things easier, but the GOG.com business model works really well, so here we are.
To draw a time line and put it into perspective I have started discussing a possible deal for all of Atari's titles back when GOG.com was just starting - 2 years ago. So yes, it has taken us quite some time, but here we are - starting with Baldur's Gate + Tales of the Sword Coast and ... hehehe ... this is just the beginning.
On a side note a personal one actually - I am really happy and proud, that we can bring these titles to the digital space, as the first digital distribution platform. Baldur's Gate was one of the first big RPGs I played myself for many hours and I think its fair to say this is the game has really defined the PC RPG market.
There are lots of games that could find its way to GoG.com. Can you give us an idea of what titles we might find on the site in the near future?
More good old games would be the simple answer. Our goal is to have all good old games under one roof with the PC good old games to start with. There is still quite a few titles missing in our catalogue and we are working hard on getting them and convincing the remaining publishers that the GOG.com business model works really well. What GOG.com proved is, that gamers are happy to pay even for the oldest titles as long as the right value and service is provided along. Funny enough when we started 2 years ago the main competition were abandonware sites offering the oldest games theoretically for free, but in most cases not working ones, so essentially the gaming experience was close to none. We spent a lot of time working on the compatibility, fixing the old games and making sure they work well on all the recent operating systems.
As far as particular titles are concerned I think it will be fair to say - think of an older game you would like to play and yes, we either already have it on GOG.com or should have it sooner or later, 100% compatible with your OS, DRM-free with no client, no need for on-line authentication with lots of additional materials (soundtracks, wallpapers, avatars, game guides, etc.) and at a fair price. That's pretty much the philosophy behind GOG.com.