GOG Talks Up the Process of Reviving Retro Games

GOG Talks Up the Process of Reviving Retro Games

GOG's Trevor Longino wants to add Mechwarrior and the LucasArts library to the retailer's retro offerings.

gog

Since its inception Good Old Games, or GOG, as its known now, has delivered retro PC titles to gamers who, for years, had little recourse but struggle with compatibility issues. Now, five years since the digital retailer first launched, it possesses a product line vastly expanded from its original offerings. Its ever growing library of old school games has also been bolstered by the addition of the newer and independently developed titles. That being said, retro is still GOG's core and the digital retailer recently took the time to run us through the process of acquiring old games and reviving them for modern audiences.

"At GOG.com, we have a few ways of selecting our classic games," explained PR head Trevor Longino. "One is our personal recollections--we have quite a lot of knowledgeable gamers on staff so they have tons of memories and insight." The team's personal experiences are also bolstered by ratings sites like Metacritc as well as GOG user wishlists "which we've found [are] one of the strongest indicators of our community's interest in a title."

The desires of its customers and team set aside, new additions to the GOG library often come down to what the website can "realistically" get its hands on. "Some of the games we'd love to sign are in such legal tangles that we don't pursue it actively until and unless we learn something new about the game that indicates that we may be able to sign it."

These legal obstacles are sometimes exacerbated by GOG's dedication to keeping its products DRM-free. While it's a stance that arguably draws in customers looking for an alternative to more restrictive digital retailers, it occasionally leads to "rights-holders [not wanting] to deal with GOG." That being the case the company has often found that "time and patience" can shift the tide of negotiations. "The sole fact that we have been a successful business--for 5 years and counting--that is based around the belief in absolute rejection of DRM is reason enough for our current and future partners to at least entertain the idea of, sooner or later, embracing the DRM-free goodness."

The retro release process, of course, doesn't stop with the mere acquisition of rights. A big part of GOG's success has been the fact that its retro offerings are playable out of the box (metaphorically speaking), making it easy for gamers to revisit old favorites on new machines. The adaptation process can vary in length from about "4 weeks to 4 months" depending on the game. "Theme Hospital, for example, was a bear to get working," said Longino. "There is always a lot of trouble with most of the early Windows 95 games that were developed at the time when DOS-based Windows was becoming a thing of the past. Some of these games are still 16-bit and making them run on 64-bit systems is one hell of a job."

Legal and technical difficulties aside, GOG has pushed forward adding counting classics and, of course, continuing its pursuit of others. "I'm a huge fan of the Mechwarrior games and I'd love to add them," shared Longino. He also wouldn't mind adding titles "from the late, great LucasArts." These are just the tip of iceberg however. "There are so many classic games out there...and we're definitely not giving up on any of them."

Permalink

I would say it can't be done; but I said System Shock 2 can't be done, so shows what I know.

Though dealing with Disney is another thing entirely...

I would literally squeal like a girl if they managed to get Grim Fandango on there. I really don't see it happening, but if it did I'd be one happy cat.

As I always say, God Bless GOG. These guys are awesome, even if I haven't bought a lot from them.

If they put out a classic Lucas Arts bundle I'd get it in a heart beat. But since Disney have gobbled up Lucas Arts they are probably lost to time.

I don't see what companies lose from letting CDPR put games on GoG. Games that are so old they won't even run on modern systems. Games are so old production has stopped (so all copies will be sold used).

GoG's way, they modernise the game I assume themselves, so no effort is made from the other companies. They run the DD themselves which is probably not cheap. And I assume companies get a portion of the revenue for doing absolutely nothing, AND interest in their IP goes up so if they decide to remake something or whatever, more people are likely to buy it.

CardinalPiggles:
I don't see what companies lose from letting CDPR put games on GoG. Games that are so old they won't even run on modern systems. Games are so old production has stopped (so all copies will be sold used).

GoG's way, they modernise the game I assume themselves, so no effort is made from the other companies. They run the DD themselves which is probably not cheap. And I assume companies get a portion of the revenue for doing absolutely nothing, AND interest in their IP goes up so if they decide to remake something or whatever, more people are likely to buy it.

The only thing I can think is that maybe companies think that either a) they'll do a re-release at some point, and having another version of the same game out there and available will complete with their future product, or b) releasing older titles for cheap might provide competition for their newest offerings in the same franchise. After all, the newest game in a series isn't always the best one.

It's a shame that out of all major videogame entities, there is only ONE that understands the importance of archiving the classics as playable without need for extraneous internet services (GoG).

Bear in mind that I have nothing against Steam.

I do hope the software GoG uses on these old games is somewhat future proof...
Apart from that, bless them! SOMEONE has to think about gaming's past!

I'm still hoping they get "Elvira - Mistress of the Dark" and "Elvira II - The Jaws of Cerberus"

Wish they could get Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain on it. But apparently, the legal tangles of this game are so tangly, it's now over a year since all the other games of the awesome Legacy of Kain series were added.

System Shock 2 and Shadow Man were pretty much impossible and look at them now! :D

My wishlist for retro revivals is quickly dwindling thanks to GOG, I honestly can't think of any other retro games to fit their already massive library (only American McGee's Alice), they already have Screamer 2 (wich I still own the retail box), Populous: The Beginning, Shadow Man, Rayman 1/2 (and Origins thrown in for good measure), the Legacy of Kain series, the Prince of Persia trilogy (plus the 2008 version thrown in for good measure), Clive Barker's Undying and many more.

I'd be completely satisfied if they decided to stop there, but they always manage to surprise with great obscure releases :)

I want to see more games like Tone Rebellion, Chaos Gate, Hexplore etc.; you know, more obscure Good Old Games. I absolutely adore the big ones like System Shock 2, no question about it, but one thing I like about a lot of the games on GOG are their niche appeal even way back when. I hope they'll continue reviving those as well.

Aren't retro games alive and well with all the shit 8bit indie games coming out right now?

WHY DO WE NEED MORE OF THESE?

If you want to revive production of the snes and ps1 then let me know what I can sign. If you want to flood the internet with more shit Castlevania clones then fuck off.

If they somehow manage to get their hands on Tie Fighter (Collector's Edition, of course), I will throw my entire wallet at them.

Even though Disney, one of the worst offenders of jealously hoarding IPs, owns the Star Wars license, I'm hoping that EA (the ones currently in charge of making Star Wars games) might come through. As much as I despise most of their business practices, I have to give them credit for releasing classics like the Wing Commander and Ultima series on GoG.

Entomorph Plague of the Darkfall. This windows 95? SSI game? (I don't quite remember) was fantastic, IMO. It was scary, but at times funny. It had a great progression system, (you slowly turn into a badass giant praying mantis that spits acid, or you could stay human and use magic, I think) the voice acting was pretty good, and it had nice colorful graphics for the time. The soundtrack was pretty cool too. It also featured some pretty challenging puzzles.

I liked that old game, but it doesn't work for crap on newer systems.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ttvsEC5VVuU

CardinalPiggles:
I don't see what companies lose from letting CDPR put games on GoG. Games that are so old they won't even run on modern systems. Games are so old production has stopped (so all copies will be sold used).

GoG's way, they modernise the game I assume themselves, so no effort is made from the other companies. They run the DD themselves which is probably not cheap. And I assume companies get a portion of the revenue for doing absolutely nothing, AND interest in their IP goes up so if they decide to remake something or whatever, more people are likely to buy it.

In a lot of cases with the older games, a large number of the companies have gone bust or have been taken over and then closed down with bits sold on. Its not always clear who owns what now. The rights to some these games have ended up with banks which themselves have been taken over or broken apart. Chasing down ownership is task in itself and then you have to persuade who has the rights now to agree to deal. Take the case of System Shock 2, the rights to the game ended up spilt between EA and an insurance company. The enduring popularity of the SS2 made pursuing the rights worthwhile but for a lot less popular games it will cost more to sort the rights than the game will make in sales.

I have Day of the Tentacle on disk, but I don't care. If they get Lucasarts stuff onto gog.com, I'm buying five copies: one for me and the rest for me.

GOG does this nice thing when every now and then, when you think "OK, my game library is chock full of revived oldies, what else can they publish?" and then BAM, a major old hit comes out. It's nicer to the brain than to the wallet though.

There's a few games I'd love to see released (War Along the Mohawk and 101st Airborne in Normandy are on top of my wishlist), but presumably potential audience is too small to invest in getting them on.

For a while, it seemed like they would shift completely to indies. But I'm a happy camper now, since there were some major oldie releases recently. Still my favourite DD platform.

EDIT: Holy crap, that first sentence is painful to read. But I won't change it.

verdant monkai:
Aren't retro games alive and well with all the shit 8bit indie games coming out right now?

WHY DO WE NEED MORE OF THESE?

If you want to revive production of the snes and ps1 then let me know what I can sign. If you want to flood the internet with more shit Castlevania clones then fuck off.

What are you on about? Do you know what GOG is and what they do? Have you even read the article? Or any of the comments?

GOG doesn't develop retro-style games.

They re-release actual retro PC games.

Stuff like Ultima, Thief, Syndicate Duke Nukem 3D and so on. Old games from the 80's, 90's and early 2000's, as well as the occasional new game, mostly the better indies. They thinker a little with the games so they run on modern hardware. Then they sell them for a fair price, often adding neat extras like soundtracks or artwork. And best of all? No DRM or any other snakes in the grass. You buy the game, you download it and it is yours to do with whatever you want for as long as you want. Easy, painless, great.

In short, GOG is fucking awesome. They are some of the broest of bros in the games industry.

Have a look

My own personal list of games that I want to see on GOG is shrinking. Nearly half of all of these games I already bought but there is still some more to go before it is complete. A few of these games however have utterly obscure or downright bizarre copyright standings.

P.S. Yes, I am aware that several of these games are already on GOG and I have in fact already bought them. Consider this more of a checklist.

Downloads from GOG are the only PC based gaming purchases I make these days and I have residcovered so many clasic games. I would love to see them one day release some of the console classics for the pc but down the line once my old pc title wishlist has been fulfilled. I also really hope that one day the GOG business model can be extended to new releases, I might actually become a digital distribution convert at that point.

I really do think that Google should be made to hand over their "Do no evil" medal to GOG, it fits much better.

Saulkar:
My own personal list of games that I want to see on GOG is shrinking. Nearly half of all of these games I already bought but there is still some more to go before it is complete. A few of these games however have utterly obscure or downright bizarre copyright standings.
*snip*

P.S. Yes, I am aware that several of these games are already on GOG and I have in fact already bought them. Consider this more of a checklist.

Warzone 2100 was giving out for free/is freeware now, I doubt gog will start selling it. Putting it up as a free game though, that's another matter.

RicoADF:

Saulkar:
My own personal list of games that I want to see on GOG is shrinking. Nearly half of all of these games I already bought but there is still some more to go before it is complete. A few of these games however have utterly obscure or downright bizarre copyright standings.
*snip*

P.S. Yes, I am aware that several of these games are already on GOG and I have in fact already bought them. Consider this more of a checklist.

Warzone 2100 was giving out for free/is freeware now, I doubt gog will start selling it. Putting it up as a free game though, that's another matter.

The problem is that the "official" free version does not have any of its cutscenes or soundtrack due to copyright. Imagine Command and Conquer: Red Alert without the campy or the Klepacki!!!

Saulkar:

The problem is that the "official" free version does not have any of its cutscenes or soundtrack due to copyright. Imagine Command and Conquer: Red Alert without the campy or the Klepacki!!!

True, I had a hard copy so I just copied the movies etc over :-) I guess they could get the licence for the movies etc.
Another good point, they need to put C&C on there, C&C1, RA1 and TS are all freeware by EA.

RicoADF:

Saulkar:

The problem is that the "official" free version does not have any of its cutscenes or soundtrack due to copyright. Imagine Command and Conquer: Red Alert without the campy or the Klepacki!!!

True, I had a hard copy so I just copied the movies etc over :-) I guess they could get the licence for the movies etc.
Another good point, they need to put C&C on there, C&C1, RA1 and TS are all freeware by EA.

Agreed, and got all those too, in hard-copy! In fact, I own the entire C&C soundtrack up to Yuri's Revenge in 320KBPS! Sounds great without being filtered through the game engine. :D

It would knock quite a few games off my wishlist if GoG could get the Mechwarrior games and the Luscas Arts games in their catalogue.

Saulkar:
My own personal list of games that I want to see on GOG is shrinking. Nearly half of all of these games I already bought but there is still some more to go before it is complete. A few of these games however have utterly obscure or downright bizarre copyright standings.

P.S. Yes, I am aware that several of these games are already on GOG and I have in fact already bought them. Consider this more of a checklist.

Rocket Jockey! I've been trying to remember the name of the game forever since my Google-fu wasn't up to the task. I absolutely loved that game in all its poorly controlled clunky goodness.

porous_shield:

Rocket Jockey! I've been trying to remember the name of the game forever since my Google-fu wasn't up to the task. I absolutely loved that game in all it's poorly controlled clunky goodness.

It is one of those games that just stuck with me to this day. I honestly wish I was eight again, getting up at 7:00 AM, booting up Windows 98, popping in the CD-ROM, then waiting for what seemed forever for this game to load.

Wing Commander 3, MechWarrior 2, MechWarrior Mercenaries, Metal Marines.

Get any combination of these games and I will buy them the second they are released, that is a promise GoG.

Wait, they did add Wing Commander 3 since the last time I checked. AWESOME.

Time to dig out my joystick, and hope it still works and functions on windows 8.

Pink Gregory:
I would say it can't be done; but I said System Shock 2 can't be done, so shows what I know.

Though dealing with Disney is another thing entirely...

System Shock 2 works fine without any fiddling. Dark engine games in general still work great.

The only games that are problematic are the ones that were built specifically to run in certain versions of Windows, mainly 3.1 and 95. Glide games are annoying too. DOS games are usually next to no effort.

CrossLOPER:

Pink Gregory:
I would say it can't be done; but I said System Shock 2 can't be done, so shows what I know.

Though dealing with Disney is another thing entirely...

System Shock 2 works fine without any fiddling. Dark engine games in general still work great.

The only games that are problematic are the ones that were built specifically to run in certain versions of Windows, mainly 3.1 and 95. Glide games are annoying too. DOS games are usually next to no effort.

Oh I'm not talking about getting them running, quite a few of the Lucasarts catalogue are already on Steam; just a matter of getting the rights to distribute.

Considering the situation that the SS2 rights were in at the time, it's miraculous that GOG (or rather Night Dive Studios, which is why it showed up on Steam, along with the Wizardry series) actually managed to wrangle them.

TallanKhan:
I also really hope that one day the GOG business model can be extended to new releases, I might actually become a digital distribution convert at that point.

GOG already hosts a healthy glut of indie games, sometimes the release can be delayed quite a while, but they do get them.

Nothing to contribute except to say thanks GOG, you guys are awesome. Without ya'll I would have never discovered Sacrifice, Disciples 2, Evil Genius, or Undying, and I squealed like a idiot when I found "Blood" on there.

You know, I never really checked out GOG before. Now that I have, I am afraid to make an account there. I suspect they would make a lot of money off of me very quickly, owing to their growing collection. The Wing Commander series, Little Big Adventure, The Legend of Kyrandia, all these games I'd thought I never see again.

However, if they ever get the original MechWarrior, in all its blocky goodness, they can have all the monies. It may look and play like shit today, but there's the 12 year old inside of me that squees when that image of a Warhammer stomping through a building all guns blazing comes up. I've never gotten it work with DOSbox, though. It either crashes after the mission ends or runs a million miles per hour thanks to the clock speeds we have today. Aside from a remake of that game with shiny new graphics, that would make me a guaranteed customer (not that I would need much pushing anyway. I made the mistake of buying Deus Ex on Steam, and it's never worked properly for me. Maybe when I finish Human Revolution again it will be time to sign up).

Skeleon:
I want to see more games like Tone Rebellion, Chaos Gate, Hexplore etc.; you know, more obscure Good Old Games.

That wouldn't happen to be Warhammer 40,000: Chaos Gate would it? Part of me says that it probably won't happen, GW can be particularly funny about their old videogame IP, even if it's not making them money anymore. But one can hope. Getting a working version of both old Space Hulk games would be nice......

Major Tom:

Skeleon:
I want to see more games like Tone Rebellion, Chaos Gate, Hexplore etc.; you know, more obscure Good Old Games.

That wouldn't happen to be Warhammer 40,000: Chaos Gate would it? Part of me says that it probably won't happen, GW can be particularly funny about their old videogame IP, even if it's not making them money anymore. But one can hope. Getting a working version of both old Space Hulk games would be nice......

Yup, precisely that one. I still have my game-CD from way back when and I can even start the game, but the colours are all messed-up, the game keeps crashing etc.; basically unplayable. I'd love to see a "GOGified" version of that game.
But, hm, that sounds bad about GW. Not that Chaos Gate has that many votes on the community list, anyway. I doubt it's at anybody's attention over there, so even if GW was okay with them reviving it, I doubt it'll happen anytime soon.

 

Reply to Thread

Log in or Register to Comment
Have an account? Login below:
With Facebook:Login With Facebook
or
Username:  
Password:  
  
Not registered? To sign up for an account with The Escapist:
Register With Facebook
Register With Facebook
or
Register for a free account here