Thursday, 5 January 2012

All aGOG with old games

GOG stands for Good Old Games, and is a pay-to-download internet site hosting a range of old (or ‘Retro’) computer games.

This is a review of that site from the perspective of an old gamer who grew up with some of the games on offer...

I must admit that I’d heard of GOG on and off through various web-sites and forums, and my first thought was always the same, ‘Why are people paying for old games that they could probably find on Abandonware sites anyway?”
Well the lure of the ‘three free games’ over the Christmas holiday period eventually lured me in, and I was quite pleasantly surprised by the site, and the services it provides.

Upon logging into the site I was presented with a screen showing six games on my ‘owned’ shelf. One of these was Ultima IV, the first PC based RPG game I ever completed way back when, on a green-screen Amstrad 1512 no less.
Ok, I thought, so I’ll have that one then.
Next came the downloading. It seems you have two options here. You can ether let your browser do a standard download, or setup GOGs own download manager program. I selected this option and it all went very smoothly. The game installed and run without any problem. Before I knew it I was staring at the Ultima IV start screen, in colour no less.
Wow, that looked old...

Apparently all games supplied from GOG have been legally checked and vetted, and all appropriate permissions to re-sell have been obtained, not only this but they are wrapped up in a ‘loader’ program that makes sure your download will work on a modern PC. And there is support, to help with any problems you may encounter.
So I suppose the answer to my initial question is that there is no ambiguity about the legality of your accusation and there shouldn’t be much, if any, hassle with running it on your modern PC.

On looking through the GOG site my first thought was that there seemed to be a wide range of games and game styles on offer, from an equally wide range of years.
My second thought was that some of the prices seemed a bit high for what you are getting. Even taking the ease of use download, game-wrapping, and help services supplied into account You are still paying for games you may already own or can get elsewhere for free, albeit with a bit more effort required to find and get them working.
Personally I do have the original versions of quite a few of the games on offer, as well as the knowledge to get them working on a modern PC, should I so wish. So there’s nothing on GOG that would make me personally pay for a game I already have. Although, again I suppose this is down to choice, possibly based on the player’s technical knowledge, patience, and/or bank-balance.

To sum up GOG seems more a convenience site to me. It looks good enough at what it does but still seems a bit pricey for some games. It probably won’t be anything I personally visit regularly or spend an inordinate amount on money on, although I’m not entirely averse to spending a few pounds on some of the older games purely from a convenience point-of -view. In this respect I think it’s a useful resource for the casual browser and less technically proficient PC user to purchase and play these Good Old Games.
If you don’t know anything about the history of games and simply want to download and play some of those ‘millstone’ programs and yesteryears ‘killer apps,’ or if you are older and simply want a bit of nostalgia, then GOG can fit that niche nicely... for a price.

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