[ View menu ]

Call to Boycott GOG.com!

March 12 edit: After today’s clarifications, I’m tentatively suspending this call.

March 11 edit: Please check out their recent announcement. My initial reaction after it, with just a couple of minor edits for clarity, was:

At a quick read, tempted to say hi again, and thank you, and hope we’ll all be putting all the mess behind us.

But trust’s hard to rebuild, so let’s see how the details will work out in time. I mean, first point would be to make sure that no other games, at least not except the three mentioned, will carry regional pricing, yet the article says you’ll try to have flat prices but will make up for it if it won’t work out, and I thought the point is to fight the practice, not to make you take losses so the publishers will still be able to carry on as usual.

Awesome if the different currencies for the rest of the catalog will be optional though. (Assuming I understood it right and it won’t be another kind of regional pricing, worried about that “or the equivalent in USD” bit. Does that mean the regular USD price or that’ll remain only for those from there and everyone else will get the direct current conversion of the set EUR/AUD/etc. price to USD? If first, awesome. If second, that’s regional pricing and we’re back to square one.)

The original post follows below:

As you may already be aware, coated in “good news”, GOG.com recently announced giving up on one of their two clear, specific core principles, namely the flat price worldwide. As such, I’m switching from being a very strong supporter, even somewhat of a GOG evangelist you may say, advertising them and trying to persuade others to sign up and make their purchases from there if they’re interested in any game included in their catalog, to boycotting them and calling everyone else to do the same. Considering the length of the post, if you’re in a hurry I guess you can skip straight to the call itself.

Before moving on, I would also like to add a link to a part of a presentation made by them only last summer, where they even named two publishers they gave up on specifically because they demanded regional pricing and, to quote them: “If there is a backbone of your business and you change it, you are destroying your business. It will come in time, maybe today you will make a fast dollar, but afterwards you will deeply regret it. That’s how we see that.” And later in that same talk: “The moment we will betray our values, the whole GOG will explode and that’s the end of it.” In addition, don’t forget the commercial they made dealing specifically with the unfairness of regional pricing, which they had briefly removed after the announcement, before probably realizing that doing so only made matters worse. And there’s also the last part of yet another commercial, mentioning fair prices for newer games as well. “But of course“, eh?

Considering all of that, I do believe it can’t be said that I’m overreacting and being entirely unreasonable. However, since some are doing just that, I’m going to include what I posted there yesterday, after getting past the stage during which I admittedly didn’t even care to be reasonable. It’s a long comment and I’m copying it exactly as I wrote it, including the words in bold, the only changes being adding a word that I had “eaten” in the original post and correcting a typo.

All right, was saying I just moved you straight from the strong support list to the boycott list and won’t bother with anything else, but let’s try a somewhat more reasonable message after just letting off a bit of steam Friday. This is darn difficult, mind you.

Regional pricing for on-line sales is wrong. There’s absolutely no excuse or justification for it. For physical sales there are varying taxes, transportation costs, the shares taken by the various shops themselves and wildly varying bills, rent and wages those stores have to pay. On-line, nobody can argue that it costs 0.01 USD to send a certain number of bits to the US and 5.46 EUR to send it to the EU for a 19.99 USD / 19.99 EUR game (even 0.46 EUR would still be entirely unreasonable, if it’d be 19.99 USD / 14.99 EUR), and let’s not even mention the even more outrageous situation for Australia / New Zealand. Hence, publishers merely do it because they can get away with it, there’s absolutely nothing that can be said to justify it or your choice to give in to this.

When you gave in for The Witcher 2, it was as a result of a court order, after a lengthy court battle that you lost, and you tried to make up for it with some store credit and even “broke” the geo-IP for a while to allow people to pick their location when buying that as well, which incidentally was an even greater plus for those same Aussies who had even worse problems than pricing to worry about. In that case, you fought for us, the customers, and alongside us, and even though you lost one battle, you did what you could to make it so we won’t lose it as well. And it was just one battle in a war, it happens, moving on.

Now, however, with this announcement, you did not lose a battle, you simply surrendered in the war, and contrary to what you said, you are pissing on our heads and telling us it’s raining. As that video people have been sharing proves, only last summer you were saying this will never happen, that if you ever allow for any dent in your values that’s the end of GOG, and just two months ago someone from support told me regional pricing will never happen, and now… There is nothing you can say to justify this or make it tolerable. Nothing! You had two clear, specific, core values, DRM-free and flat price worldwide. You gave up on one of them. It’s not a question of slippery slope, of potential consequences to the no-DRM stance in the future as well or anything else, not right now and not specifically at least. It’s a question of betraying one of your two core principles, and therefore betraying us. And hiding it in a so-called positive announcement, hiding your traces by making that video private, trying to justify it in who knows what way now is not making it any better, but worse.

As I saw someone else put it at some point on here, people like sales, coupons, free stuff, etc. everywhere, but people loved GOG. You were the good guys, you fought for us and we fought for you. Some people bought dozens or even hundreds of games on here (even if on big sales) just to support you, not because they absolutely wanted them, and definitely not because they needed to get them legally anywhere. Others shared your news, your offers, your announcements, supported you in other ways, persuaded friends and acquaintances to join GOG, make purchases as well, spread the word even further. It wasn’t a client – store business relationship, it was an emotional attachment because it truly felt as if we were in this fight against the other, evil, businesses in this industry together. And you now proved that not to be the case. That’s a betrayal, and the reaction to this, the rejection, will be just as emotional and vehement and steadfast as the support used to be, and possibly even more so.

If you were so desperate to get publishers too rotten to allow for fair prices for some of their games in one shop among several, just to count the major ones, you could, at the very worst, make an entirely separate site, without any visible connection to GOG, run by an entirely different team, that would sell just those games, and leave GOG as it was. That’d have still been a blow, but it’d at least have been something else, wouldn’t have soiled GOG directly.

If you truly believe you’ll get many games like this, you could still do that. Once you get, say, 50 or so under those terms, new, DRM-free but not fair priced, make another site, selling just those games, without negatively affecting GOG. Guarantee that GOG will maintain its principles, so including the fair flat price one, and still get at least 150 new releases per year (100 from the old two games at least three years old per week rule, rounding down to give a week off during the summer sale and one during the winter sale, and 50 more to justify the fact that you decided to stop focusing just on those “older” games some time ago – which incidentally started the slippery slope that led to this, mind you), and put the others on said other site, with the rule that they may not stay there with non-flat prices more than two years after being included in the catalog or more than three years after launch, whichever comes first. Then, once you can get a publisher to accept flat pricing for one of those games, move it to GOG too, but if you can’t get such an agreement before the game is on that other site for two years or three years have passed since it was first released, whichever comes first, it will be removed from that other site and forgotten about, since the point wouldn’t be to cater to rotten unreasonable publisher demands forever, but just to provide a gradual way in for them towards a fair model. And either way name and shame, spell out precisely which publisher made this rotten demand and what they said to your attempts to persuade them otherwise.

Again, this other site idea would still be a blow, would still be a betrayal, but not as much of one and at least it’d be a betrayal by CD Projekt (which won’t exactly be a first if you recall the going after Witcher 2 “pirates” bit or the fact that they just signed a distribution deal for Witcher 3 with the same rotten <bleep> who forced you into the regional pricing for Witcher 2), not by GOG.

Sorry for the length, but… I guess that’s as reasonable as I can get. Adding any game on GOG with regional pricing, or of course adding region locks or other such things that may follow, is not tolerable under any circumstances. Period.

With that out of the way, here’s another message, this one posted by me last night and explaining why a boycott is exactly what needs to happen, and why it needs to happen now. It was a reply to somebody else saying that there’s nothing we can really do.

Continuing to support them after this is the reason why the prices will increase. Need a united front against it, those of us who do see these things and care, here of all places, otherwise of course the silent mindless apathetic zombie crowd will always win out. And that’s what “they” (not necessarily GOG now, but those publishers) count on. Those who’re either easily fooled or just don’t think they can achieve anything by going against the stream will always be far more, so those of us who aren’t in that category (though I’m sorry to say you seem to be, at least in this second one if not the first) need to make enough of a ruckus to cover their silence. Sometimes it may even work. If it doesn’t, at least we tried, and at least we didn’t soil ourselves by going along with something that’s wrong.

Sure, this tends to apply to more important things than a games shop, but ideals are ideals, can’t claim to stand for the bigger ones if you wave away the smaller ones. (Which should go for GOG as well, with this.)

From that I’ll move on to a reply posted today on a thread against a boycott.

Judging from what I see in this post, seems that if GOG decided to pull down their pants and bend over in front of certain publishers, many of you are more than willing to follow suit. That’s what not boycotting now means, no matter how you justify it. You either fight this with the best weapon you have as a customer and are fully in that fight, regardless of whether we may win or not, or you don’t and the message sent is that they can get away with anything. Which is of course the very reason why this happens.

And finally, here’s yet another message I posted, this time in reply to those who claimed that such a course of action signified overreacting and that so far we can only speculate about precisely how the regional pricing will be implemented, and also asking people to at least wait until we’ll see which games will be added to the catalog thanks to this change.

What’s speculation? Why would what the new games are matter? They had two clear, firm principles. They announced deciding to give up on one of them. That’s the end of the story. It doesn’t matter what sort of shiny bribe they did it for, be it in terms of new games added or anything else, and it doesn’t, at this point, matter whether it will be a slippery slope or not (though I’ll remind you that TET admitted it may lead to region locks and existing games regionally priced in the future as well, when they’ll come up for renegotiation). It’s the fact itself that’s more than enough.

Now I believe I have already explained my stance in those messages, and I also believe that the first one showed that I can be reasonable about this and am even willing to offer solutions that will go a long way towards bridging this gap between the major publishers and the consumers without destroying what GOG is and what it has stood for all this time, so there’s no need to say much more in this post… Not much more except to apologize for allowing myself to be fooled into supporting them and perhaps persuading others to do the same all these years, at least.
There is nothing to negotiate or discuss here, or should I say that I have already stated how far I’m willing to negotiate, put my best “offer” on the table in that long message. As such, the call I want to make is very simple and very clear: As of now, until and unless they will renounce this change and once again enforce flat worldwide prices as one of their values, do not make any purchases from GOG.com anymore, do not purchase any games published by the companies that have pushed for this change, the first one announced being Triumph Studios, from anywhere, and persuade everyone you know to do the same. In addition, make it perfectly clear why you are taking part in this boycott by posting firm, though preferably thoughtful and reasonably polite, messages stating your stance on their forums and social media pages, and by sending such messages directly to them. And you may want to add a vote to the wishlist item as well, for what it’s worth.

For those interested, here’s also an incomplete list of reactions to the initial announcement found elsewhere on the Internet:
News pieces with comment threads containing over ten comments: IGN, Polygon, Joystiq, Kotaku Australia, Lazygamer, Ausgamers, Game Debate.
Forum threads with polls: The Escapist, CD Projekt, Neowin.
Forum threads without polls: reddit, Steam, GameSpot, Quarter to Three, Gameplanet, HEXUS, SEGA, Linus Tech Tips.

Edit: The announced letter explaining their plans for the future was finally posted as well, and in short it spells out that things will be even worse, with regional pricing applied to all games, which I’m sure implies tracking by IP everywhere too. Yes, the rates are far better than those usually used, but regional pricing is regional pricing, it still implies betraying their principles, and somebody’ll get screwed, even if less than in other places. Not to mention that exchange rates vary, so prices being set at one point in time instead of dynamically determined according to each day’s exchange rate will only make matters worse.
Honestly, I’m shocked right now. Didn’t think a business I respected and supported so much could stoop so low, so quickly. I mean, I know it was my mistake to allow myself to believe in them, to believe that a corporation may avoid being evil, but… It’s still shocking…

Second edit, copying something else I just posted: I do want to make it perfectly clear that boycotting them, and asking for others to do the same, does in no way imply wanting to see them bankrupt or otherwise gone. Quite the contrary, it’s just because I don’t want to see GOG gone, I don’t want to see them weak and defeated… Yet in one major way it already is gone, and they have admitted defeat, and therefore weakness.

I don’t know. Comments (and votes) say that many don’t think this is the right response, but after thinking about it for these past days I disagree with that and think it is. I think it is a way to send a strong message and remind them that some of us are fighting those practices and those publishers as well, and that if we will continue this fight even without them, even against them if need be, then it’s all the more clear that we will continue it alongside them, if they’ll decide to return to their previous stance, to their principles.

At the same time, the timing of the Humble Store change as well makes me have this nagging feeling that there’s something bigger at play here, something they’re still not saying. Maybe It’s “only” a coalition of publishers and retail stores making a push, complete with ultimatums, but may it also be some other court action, some high-level EU directive, or have something to do with the proposed European internet, forcing retailers to move away from transactions in USD as well, or quite the contrary, with the Trans-Pacific Partnership… Just speculation, of course, but it is odd…

2 Comments

  1. Hammer says:

    Loser.

    February 25, 2014 @ 9:10 PM

  2. Enilias says:

    I replied to their more recent news post: http://www.gog.com/news/letter_from_the_md_about_regional_pricing

    I am adding it to this page for further discussion and so on, that it might not get overlooked by the amount of comments on the gog.com page:

    You didn’t get it, did you? We don’t have a problem with money. We gamers didn’t say that the game is too expensive for us and we can’t afford it or anything. You broke a promise, that’s what you did. This is what made us supporters so upset. You didn’t only do that, you did it through the backdoor. You’ve heard the people complain about that, you’ve heard they were planning a boycott of your site until you change your policy. And now you have the AUDACITY to apply this regional pricing for all your games?
    This isn’t to say you should have never done that. But you could have asked that. If you wanted to expand like you did, you could have made a poll of some sorts, asking us if we wanted the change. Asking us for our opinion. Instead, you just sold your soul and expect your customers to follow you.
    You said you are against DRM because it is unfair towards us. We believed you cared about us, the consumer. But the way you put it here, you merely think that DRM makes less sales and believe you can make more money by selling games without DRM. I trusted your site because I used to think you had us, the consumer in your mind. But as it turned out, you are just another cold, soulless company that tries to maximize its profits by any means necessary.

    “If there is a backbone of your business and you change it, you are destroying your business. It will come in time, maybe today you will make a fast dollar, but afterwards you will deeply regret it. That’s how we see that.”
    “The moment we will betray our values, the whole GOG will explode and that’s the end of it.”
    That’s what you two said? Remember it? Probably not.

    I really hope you were right back then. Because it would mean the end of one more profit-monger.

    February 25, 2014 @ 11:52 PM

RSS feed Comments | TrackBack URI

Write Comment

Note: Any comments that are not in English will be immediately deleted.

XHTML: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>