In a day where news about game distribution test platforms seems to be aplenty, we have another tid bit, that Good Old Games (GoG.com) has confirmed that they won't singularly focus on releasing games that are at least 3 years old.
Today's announcement from GoG shared some numbers too: There have been 6,000,000 games downloaded, 1,000,000 people visit the site on a monthly basis and they the site has been profitable since it's very first month. When 2012 is over, they expect there will be 400 games on their platform.
The other news today was that Sins of a Solar Empire is on Steam. We had a spur of activity over EA's Origin service earlier in the year. It seems like many companies are jockeying for the biggest portion of the pie.
One question is: How many digital distribution platforms do we really need?
Good Old Games has always held a very specific niche spot, in that they weren't competing with every new game or indie developer to get their game out there on the cheap. People have flocked to GoG.com to get that game from the past to play again or under duress from their friends to play something they missed. Many RTS games grace GoG.
I'm concerned about focus.
They have always been busy and clearly successful at getting publishers and developers to allow them to host their aging games. It's been a good deal for everyone. Extra money to publishers/developers. Money for GoG. And us, the players, get the love of the games. If they are continuing to focus on current titles, will the ability to cover older games suffer?
GoG Managing director Guillaume Rambourg had this to say:
"Finally, we want to work closely with ambitious developers and independent publishers who feel a kinship with that 'good old spirit' that GOG.com embodies. Thanks to the commercial success of The Witcher 2 on GOG.com, more and more people realize that our values are universal. They are coming to GOG and asking if we can carry their titles. We've made GOG.com the destination for classic PC games, but now is the time to take this to the next level and emerge as the best alternative digital distribution platform for all PC games."
This certainly sounds like all the right things. But there are bigger and better companies out here offering the same service. As it was told to me many times in my youth: "It's better to be a big fish in a small pond than the small fish in the big pond".
In fairness, I've also heard: "It's ok to be a small fish in the big pond becasue you don't need to eat as much and can hide out longer".
There is another way to look at this announcement: are they running out of agreeable developers and publishers to release older games? Of course there isn't a shortage of old games, a couple decades worth exist. However, many of those companies might not exist anymore. Almost all my favorite games from the 90's can be found of GoG already.
But while this might sound like a negative article, it's acutally good news because "Good Old Games is cool". I know, not very official sounding but in todays online marketplace, it matters: GoG has taken a strong position on DRM-free downloads. This will continue for their old games and all new ones. A popular move for sure with gamers around the world as other platforms insist on some pretty "un-cool" practices, Origin being quite notorious for online activations and hard-drive scans.
If you haven't checked out GoG yet, I strongly recommend that you do (http://www.gog.com) and check out their extensive strategy section. Where the company goes with more current games should be interesting.