Yesterday marked one year since GOG.com’s “good news” announcement, which promised day-one launches and preorders for big AAA titles and games from major studios and barely mentioned the price for this, namely introducing regional pricing for said titles, in passing. So, after all this time, what did we get as a result of them giving up on one of their two clear, specific, core values, and in fact on the one which made them stand out the most, since at the moment there are quite a few other on-line stores offering DRM-free games, but as far as I’m aware only one, ShinyLoot, left offering flat prices?
Well, the biggest title added during this time is quite clearly the preorder for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. However, being self-published by GOG.com’s parent company, CD Projekt, that would have obviously been sold on GOG regardless of circumstances.
Just like it happened with The Witcher 2, it may have ended up regionally priced as an exception, while the rest of the catalog was not, but one must remember that, when that happened back then, they fought back as much as they could, initially suggested how users could get around the pricing, only closed off that loophole when court orders gave them no other options, and then still struggled to get it back to flat pricing at the first possible opportunity. In case of The Witcher 3, on the other hand, CD Projekt simply signed a distribution deal with the same company that forced them into that mess right away and went forward with this pricing scheme as if it was the most normal thing there is. In other words, at the time of the mess with The Witcher 2, they still stood for something, proving that they were in this business to change how things work, while now they’re acting like any other business, only holding, or pretending to hold, values which generate enough profit to be worth it strictly in that sense.
And while I’m at CD Projekt, The Witcher Adventure Game, developed by a different company but also published by them, should be removed from the list as well, for the exact same reasons stated above. Some things could be said about the very fact that this game exists, not merely about using regional pricing for it, but that’s not exactly the issue here, so I’ll leave it aside.
Other than that, we did recently get LucasFilm titles, through Disney, and even more recently Warner Bros. and older Paradox games, but the first two groups aren’t regionally priced while the third only has the “Russian discount”, and I’ll talk about that later. The sole exception is the preorder for Pillars of Eternity and its increasingly ludicrously priced premium editions, which is published by Paradox Interactive, yet this was not added because GOG.com finally made a deal with them, but had already been added earlier, because the developers had pledged to make the game available on GOG while asking for funds on Kickstarter and would have therefore needed to be here regardless of circumstances. If anything, since that pledge was made back when GOG still held all of its old values, it can quite clearly be said that the very fact that it uses regional pricing is in itself a violation of that pledge and therefore the fact that GOG allowed this to happen made things worse than they would have been otherwise.
And while I’m on this topic, I must mention Wasteland 2 as well, which was in the exact same situation as Pillars of Eternity. It was funded via Kickstarter long before GOG.com gave up on the flat pricing principle, it was promised to be available on GOG, and it therefore would have had to be on GOG, most likely being expected to adhere to the principles GOG held at the time the funding effort started. After all, if we allow a developer to promise to have a game on GOG at a time when GOG didn’t allow regional pricing but also let them negotiate a deal with them to only keep that promise if they’ll get rid of that principle, what’s stopping some other developer from doing the same when it comes to the DRM-free principle at some later point?
So, to return to the question, it can be said that the more notable titles we did get as a result of accepting regional pricing were those initially announced, namely Age of Wonders 3 and Divinity: Original Sin. However, while good games that many, myself included, would otherwise want to play and even buy, I wouldn’t exactly call them AAA titles, and either way they are self-published by studios which already had their other games on GOG.com, with flat pricing, and in Larian’s case those other games also include the newer Divinity 2: Developer’s Cut and even Divinity: Dragon Commander, which was released only a year and a half ago.
And now that we have the specific names and titles out of the way, let’s look at what’s left by the numbers, starting from the fact that there currently are 108 regionally priced entries in the GOG.com catalog. If we leave Age of Wonders 3 and Divinity: Original Sin in for now but remove all those for The Witcher 3, The Witcher Adventure Game, Pillars of Eternity and Wasteland 2, we’re left with exactly 100. Then we’re quickly left with 60 after also removing the 40 titles which only have regional discounts, with no region paying more than the standard (US) price, as I have a hard time believing that anyone would refuse to sell a game on GOG if not allowed to make such discounts. And if we also remove Retro City Rampage DX, which was switched to regional pricing when the DX edition replaced the original one, we’re down to 59.
Starting from that number, we must look at the situation generated by introducing support for multiple currencies on August 27. It is an entirely different issue and I’d like to keep it as such, so I won’t say much about the 33 games which were removed because of it and didn’t yet return. However, I must mention that 23 out of the 59 titles we’re left with on the list were switched to regional pricing at that time, because of this support, and two more, which were initially removed then, were added back later, also with regional pricing. As such, since these are obviously titles which could be on GOG, and which actually were on GOG, with flat pricing, the number goes down to 34. For anyone keeping track, that’s less than a third of the actual current number of 108.
Then we can look at ShinyLoot, to see which games are also available there, obviously indicating that they may be sold at a flat price. That allows us to also remove Randal’s Monday, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter and possibly also The Book of Unwritten Tales 2, though the last two are not DRM-free there and the last one only has the beta available at the moment. Still, especially since those last two are published by Nordic Games and the games they have there show that their problem isn’t flat pricing in itself, but flat pricing when multiple currencies are offered, I’d include all of them and get the number down to 29, since both of those last two have two entries in the catalog.
Now is the time for cleaning up what’s left a little, removing the Special Edition and upgrade for Dreamfall Chapters, as well as Age of Wonders 3 Deluxe Edition and the DLC for Divinity: Original Sin, to leave only base games and DLC released after the original game. That means I am leaving Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition, Mount & Blade: Warband – Viking Conquest and Surgeon Simulator Anniversary Edition, even though the respective base games have either been removed already or, in the latter case, aren’t regionally priced at all. These are a separate later release, which didn’t replace the original one, and two pieces of DLC, so it can be argued that they may not have been added except on these terms.
That leaves us with 25, and here I’m definitely asking for some help, because I think that at least a few more titles should be removed because they’re either sold at a flat price elsewhere, possibly on the publishers’ or developers’ sites, or have been crowdfunded and pledged to be available on GOG before last February.
Later edit: Completely forgot, but Divinity: Original Sin was also a Kickstarter title pledged to come to GOG before 2014, so what I said above about Pillars of Eternity and Wasteland 2 applies here as well. As such, the 24 games left on the list are:
Age of Wonders 3
Age of Wonders 3: Golden Realms
Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers – 20th Anniversary Edition
Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition
Hand of Fate
The Marvellous Miss Take
Mount & Blade: Warband – Viking Conquest
Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty
Shadows: Heretic Kingdoms
Starpoint Gemini 2
Supreme League of Patriots
Surgeon Simulator Anniversary Edition
This War of Mine
TRI: Of Friendship and Madness
Wings!™ Remastered Edition
Saying once again that the list above isn’t final and a few titles may still need to be removed from it if we’re to look strictly for games that may perhaps have only been added on condition of giving up on the regional pricing principle, what do we have?
Well, one thing that’s immediately obvious is that, at least according to the information on GOG.com, we have 11 self-published titles, the ten companies involved being 11 bit studios, Bossa Studios, Daedalic Entertainment, Defiant Development, DrinkBox Studios, Infinitap Games, Red Thread Games, Rocket Bear Games, State of Play Games and Triumph Studios. Now, even with what I said previously about Triumph, do point me to those major names and AAA titles that regional pricing was supposedly introduced for, because even after reading that list several times, I still seem to somehow be missing them.
That leaves us with nine titles which once again can’t fit in that category we were promised, as six are indies, or at least listed as such by GOG, and three more are remakes or enhanced editions, and four others that may be different. Those four are Mount & Blade: Warband – Viking Conquest, Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty, Shadows: Heretic Kingdoms and Starpoint Gemini 2. Admittedly, personally I am interested in two of these, or I would have been under different circumstances, but do they actually fit what was promised? I rather doubt it. And even if all of them would, and then even if we also add Age of Wonders 3 and its DLC, in spite of them being self-published and by a company who already has the rest of their catalog on GOG and with flat pricing, we’re still down to six entries, at a maximum.
The question that remains at this point, even before others will perhaps check the list more thoroughly and possibly eliminate even more names from it after finding them flat priced elsewhere or pledged to be on GOG before the changes in policy, is whether the titles mentioned above, whether we’re talking about the six or even the full list of at most 24, were worth giving up on one of the two clear, specific, core values GOG.com had. In my view, they most definitely were not, but I’m rather biased, as I always stated that nothing could be worth that and no title that won’t be both DRM-free and flat priced should ever be on GOG, so what do you think?