Have you ever been in a used game store and thought, ‘you know, there’s all of these original Xbox, Super Nintendo and Master System games, but where are all the decent PC titles from back-in-the-day? How come I can’t easily get hold of classics like Cannon Fodder and Descent and Outcast?’ We’re guessing the team at GOG.com were thinking the same, as they’ve created one of the most popular digital distribution platforms for classic PC titles on the internet. Midlife Gamer got some time in with Lukasz Kukawski recently to talk to us about the service and their recent partnership with Atari.
Xero: To kick off the proceedings, who are you and what do you do?
Lukasz Kukawski: My name is Lukasz Kukawski and I’m responsible for PR and marketing at GOG.com. So answering questions from journalists is something I do pretty often!
X: Next is an exceptionally important question for us here at Midlife Gamer; what is your favourite biscuit (often referred to outside of Great Britain as a cookie) and what is your favourite beverage?
LK: Ah that’s an easy one. Favourite biscuit has to be the chocolate chip cookie and as for beverage it’s the tea that comes with the cookie.
X: So for those not in the know, what is GOG.com?
LK: GOG, Good Old Games in short, is a digital distribution service with classic PC games. But it’s not just an ordinary DD service! Aside of having a unique offer, we also have unique features. What other digital distribution platform sells completely DRM-free games, where you can download the game any time, any place and play it without being online? Or where for the price of only $5.99 or $9.99 you’ll get a classic like Fallout, Duke Nukem, Syberia or Heroes of Might and Magic with great bonus materials, including MP3 soundtracks, wallpapers, artworks and more? Basically GOG.com is the best place on the web for classic games fans.
X: You very recently announced your latest partnership with Anuman and Atari, could you tell us a bit more about what that deal entails, what games we can initially expect and why fans of classic PC games should be excited?
LK: The deal with Atari is another huge step forward for our service and for DRM-free digital distribution as a whole. Earlier this year we announced the cooperation with one of the biggest worldwide publishers – Activision – and the agreement with Atari is a continuation of our efforts to become the best digital distribution service there is. Fans of classic PC games should be excited because thanks to those deals we’re able to bring back some of the best PC games of all time. Let me mention just a few titles that make most of PC gamers go wild: Gabriel Knight, Arcanum, Outcast, Blood, King’s Quest, Interstate ’76… I can list those games for the next 30 minutes, but it’s easier for you to just take a look at our catalogue – it has more than 200 great games!
X: Which of Atari’s back catalogue that is as of yet unconfirmed for distribution are you most keen on getting users access to?
LK: The agreement with Atari is a great start of what we hope is a long term cooperation. As first games from their catalogue we’re offering such gems like Outcast, Master of Orion 1+2, Blood + Expansions and Master of Magic. Because of some legal issues we haven’t yet signed the Hasbro titles like Baldur’s Gate or Planescape Torment but we’re doing everything we can to get those classics in our offering, so stay tuned!
X: GOG.com has been around for just over two years now, what do you think has made the site such a success?
LK: I think it’s mainly because of our approach to digital distribution (DRM-free games, low prices, free bonus materials), love for those great classics and of course our unique offering. We know we still have a lot to improve and there are still many great games to be revived, but as you’ve said we’re just 2 years on the market and we’re doing our best to improve the ‘GOG.com experience’. With such great users as we have, which share the same passion for classic PC games and give us some great feedback about our service and the titles we offer, it’s a pleasure to work every day to get better and better.
X: Your service has always been keen to stay DRM free, what was the reason behind this business decision and how do you feel about the way other companies have handled their anti-piracy measures?
LK: We hate all kinds of DRM. In our opinion they make much more damage than good to gamers who buy legal games. If you download a game from some torrent site you have it already stripped of DRM and you don’t have to worry about limited number of installations or online activation. So the DRM works only against the people who have bought a legal copy of the game. Ain’t that crazy?
In our opinion DRM isn’t a good way to fight piracy. We believe that offering good games for good value would make more good to the war against piracy than draconian copy protection schemes. And that’s what we’re trying to do here at GOG!
X: Do you have a favourite title on the service and is there a game from your personal gaming past that isn’t on GOG.com, that you would particularly like to secure?
LK: There are a few games I would call favourites on GOG.com – Fallout, Duke Nukem 3D, Gabriel Knight and Cannon Fodder. As for what games I’d love to see on our service it would probably be the point and click adventures from Lucas Arts as I’ve played all of them many, many times. Plus Sam & Max Hit the Road or the Monkey Island series as they’re just hilarious.
X: How do publishers as a whole respond to your distribution platform? Are there any companies that have flatly refused to work with you?
LK: In most cases publishers are really excited about our service and the idea of reviving their old brands. Basically we’re giving them a chance to monetize thier back catalogue which they’re not making money on anymore, so why shouldn’t they be happy about it?! Of course the DRM-free feature is something that some publishers don’t want to accept. Thankfully we have our secret methods to convince them… We hope to sign every publisher that owns rights to classic PC games sooner or later. With our latest additions of Activision and Atari we’ve showed that nothing is impossible for us and our goal is closer than anyone could think.
X: Have you ever been tempted to bring the service to home consoles or handhelds that have access to digital content? Are we likely to ever see you bring Syberia to the Playstation 3 for example?
LK: As far as I know we don’t have any plans to bring the service to consoles. Xbox Live Arcade, Wii Ware and PSN are making a good effort to revive old games on their platforms and we don’t plan to move on those platforms for now. Maybe in the future our approach will change, so I’m not saying no for good…
X: Finally, what’s next for GOG.com?
LK: Unfortunately I can’t reveal any big plans we have up our sleeves. We’re working on signing the next deals that will bring more great classics and I’ll let you know when things get official. Also, we’re aiming finally to get out of the beta, but what this will mean for our users is a secret for now.
Check out GOG.com for more information on the service.