GOG.com (former Good old games) is a widely known service for distribution of video games. Its main feature is absence of digital right management tools – you can buy any game here as an exe file and install it freely on a PC without any troubles with activation of its code – because it does not have one. Due to this GOG.com has lower amount of games than traditional online stores, but at the same time is very attractive for customers and indie developers, who are eager to place their products here to gain an additional revenue.
Have you ever thought about the future of GOG.com? Will the store be able to withstand the competition with largest rivals? How can Epic Games Store affect its sales? Let’s find out it.
All publishers of video games can be divided into two different categories: big and small ones. Big developers and publishers are usually passionate about their sales, have high volume of it, operate with millions of dollars and create AAA-titles, which are bought by millions players across the world. Games created by them – blockbusters, commercial hits, very successful products with a long history. New intellectual property looks amazing. They create very ambitious products, games of a dream. They hire thousand employees throughout the world, buy square meters of advertising space and pay streamers thousands dollars for promotion of their products.
They value every dollar. They are business. They can’t let themselves lose time or money, they use every opportunity to double their profit. They develop mainly the games of popular genres and they usually protect them with DRM to ensure high sales and mitigate the loss of money from piracy. They almost always do this.
Small developers and publishers in opposite often don’t care about piracy, because they don’t believe in systems of digital rights management and realize that the game will be pirated one way or another. Due to lower sales and creation of exotic unpopular games of rare genres (walking simulators, visual novels, adventures, real time strategies) they can’t afford buying licenses on popular DRM systems of protection, that’s why they release games as DRM-free products. Their motivation is always different but the logic is that it’s better to release the game as DRM-free product and receive some money on other stores, where it’s sold DRM-free rather than to sell it on one single platform and lose money from these customers who want to see it as DRM-free game.
This approach creates a specific attitude, which results in a very low amount of modern games distributed through GOG.com. The store realizes it and sometimes makes deals with large publishers to increase the recognition of the service, attract new customers and contribute to growth of their catalog. However, the amount of AAA-games sold on GOG.com is extremely low, which makes it fully dependent on performance of small indie studios – the only actors on the market that ordinarily place their games on GOG.com. That’s a problem.
Now GOG.com is perceived as indie games store, because mainly the developers of this kind place their games here. Majority of large corporations simply don’t believe in DRM-free world. As a result, its catalog is very narrow and has mostly these kinds of games that indie developers create. This causes a problem for these who want to buy all games as DRM-free and creates tensions between gamers and large publishers.
The main reason why big companies don’t want to sell games without protection is simple – they don’t want to lose money from pirating them. With that, they simply don’t understand or don’t know that they were already pirated long time ago – you can find old games all over the web. Certainly, these sites, which distribute them illegally may be closed down, but the general tendency is alarming – you don’t find many good games as DRM-free because publishers rarely sell them this way. Now only THQ Nordic works closely with GOG.com, others collaborate on impermanent basis. That’s sad to admit but it’s true. 2K Games recently released Mafia 3, Bioshock Infinite and other notable titles here, but that’s another rare example – giants overlooked this part of the market.
Epic Games Store only increases the competition. If a game is to become exclusive for it, it won’t be released on both Steam and GOG.com for the whole time being exclusive for Epic Games Store. A low commission makes Epic Games Store very attractive in the eyes of publishers – now GOG.com will have to compete with them too.
GOG.com tries to survive, they struggle on market hard. They have titles that are exclusive to their platform (old games mostly), have modern games released on the same date as other stores release them, they make discounts and organize sales earlier than Steam to get ahead of them, they designed GOG Galaxy for these who loves social interaction and statistics thing. This alone shows how much they did in the past and what they do now. Questions still need to be answered.
GOG.com does not have many options, however they can:
- introduce loyalty program “the more you buy the more you get”
- talk with big publishers to expand their line of products presented here;
- make their own exclusive games available only on GOG.com;
- finance indie developers to serve as a publisher for them so that CD Project Red could release games more often;
- have exclusive promo-material, which would prompt to buy here (avatars, manuals, soundtrack);
- continue to release old titles (look at GOG.com wish list to realize how many of them are here);
- release other games of that kind that would attract more customers.
The competition is tough. GOG.com is the only widely known store that sells games as DRM-free. They need to sell more games, expand their catalog, get some old titles, introduce loyalty program for customers. There are plenty of options, of course. Big corporations need to understand that by not selling their products on GOG they lose a lot of money. Gamers need to understand the current situation. GOG.com needs to find solution. Indie developers may go to Epic Games Store – what games GOG.com will sell then?
GOG.com will remain on the market, because there is a strong demand on DRM-free games. They are always more convenient rather than ordinary games, which require a client, permanent internet connection, activation codes and other things like that. With that, the audience of GOG may shrink in the future, if large publishers are to refuse to work with this store and indie developers are to use Epic Games Store instead.
GOG.com needs to actively support the idea of DRM-free games, attract more publishers, work with developers, expand their audience by advertising the store in the internet. They need to concentrate on returning old proven classic games to the market and release exclusive titles on their store as well. This will help them to stay in business but will lead to further competition between online gaming stores.