Alright, quite honestly, I don’t really know how to do this rant without making it just sound like an advertisement, so, apologies for that.
I discovered a website a little while back, Good Old Games.com (commonly just called GOG.com). It’s pretty awesome. The long and short of it is that GOG.com sells digital, downloadable copies of a large number of older (and even a couple fairly recent) PC games. From games as popular as Unreal Tournament to games as obscure as Anachronox, from old classics like Zork to new titles like The Witcher 2, you can find a ton of great games to buy there, games which quite often are so old and/or obscure that you’d have a good bit of trouble locating a legal copy to purchase nowadays.
Now, I probably don’t have to tell you why this is a really good thing for me. If you’ve read any of my Annual Summary rants, you’ll probably notice that most of the RPGs I play in any given year are at least a couple years old, most of the time older. Oh, sure, I play a couple games inside a year of their release, but generally I’m always just playing catch-up with the RPG genre. Heck, there are still plenty of RPGs for the NES I still haven’t played yet (I just completed The Legend of Zelda 2 a few months ago, for example). So a website that specifically focuses on providing older games is ideal for me.
There’s a lot more to how great GOG.com is than just my personal convenience, though. First of all, there’s the pricing. The vast majority of the GOG.com catalogue is priced at $10 or less, which is a really, really good price for a game. Okay, yes, they ARE old, so yes, it makes sense that they’d be priced low, but that doesn’t make it less of a good deal. I don’t know about you guys, but I’d generally rather buy 6 old games at 10 bucks a pop than spend $60 on a single new title, all things being equal. And that’s assuming you buy the games at full price--GOG.com has a sale every weekend, during which they price several of their games (usually a set of similar titles, or titles all by a single developer, or something) at significantly reduced prices. These can wind up being really good sales, honestly. The last 3 titles I’ve purchased from GOG.com on sale were $2.39 each. Now I don’t care WHERE you’re buying from or how old the game is, that is a mighty fine price for a legal copy. You’d have trouble finding a price that low on a used game in poor shape from any regular retailer, and unlike purchasing a used game, buying from GOG.com indirectly supports the companies that own the game, rather than just the retailer itself, since GOG.com has paid them for the ability to distribute it.
This all makes for a very convenient and affordable business, but I probably wouldn’t have written a whole rant about this site if it were just for that.* Well, GOG.com’s also great for its general quality standards. The actual process of getting the game is very simple--it would have to be, for me to be able to figure it out. After purchasing it, you just download this one single installer package, open it up, and it pretty much takes care of everything from there. They remove the copy protections from the games, so that you can re-download the game to more than one machine without a hassle. In addition, when you purchase a game, you usually get a lot of stuff that goes with it--in the same bar where you get the game installer, you can also download various extras for it, such as the instruction manual, game avatars, official game art and/or wallpapers, and sometimes even the game’s soundtrack, some Making Of videos and developer interviews, and walkthroughs. Additionally, if a game had any add-ons produced for it (expansions, downloadable content, that sort of thing), you can generally rely on GOG.com having that included in the game’s download files. They definitely go all out on providing the customer with everything they might need or want--Planescape: Torment, for example, has in its description a link to a guide for installing several game mods that fix its bugs, make it run better, and restored content. These are things that anyone playing PT for the first time really should have available for the best experience, and GOG.com makes sure they do.
The GOG.com staff also, from what I’ve seen, provide swift and effective customer service. I noticed last month that the soundtrack provided for download with Icewind Dale 2 was disorganized, and its files weren’t named at all, leaving me, and apparently a few other customers, confused as to which songs were which and what the tracks were meant to be called. This was mentioned in the GOG.com forums devoted to the game. Within a couple days, a GOG.com worker had noticed the complaint (even though no one had, I believe, thought to actually officially contact the site over the issue), and cleaned up the soundtrack, after which said worker courteously let those who had posted the complaint know that it had been fixed. That’s quick, dedicated, and friendly service, right there. Maybe it’s just because I’ve spent the last half a year at the Bioware forums watching the company dodge customer complaints, outright lie to its fans, arbitrarily and rudely close topics about improving Mass Effect 3’s ending, and utterly fail to improve its multiplayer servers and/or fix several severe bugs and gameplay issues for months and months, but GOG.com’s willingness to treat the people it owes its existence to as actual human beings with valid concerns favorably impresses me.
And that’s about it. I think GOG.com is a great source for old and obscure RPGs. It’s simple, cheap, and it’s clearly run by people who take an active interest in the games they sell. Check it out.
And as a side note, if you are a reader of this blog and you have for some reason not played Planescape: Torment yet in spite of my mentioning how great it is roughly every 5 rants or so, now you really do have no excuse. Go to GOG.com and buy it and play it and love it. NOW!
* “Probably” being the key term. Sometimes I get low on rant ideas, and suddenly ideas previously discarded as not being good enough for rant subjects start to seem a whole lot better.