The Nostalgia IssueEverything Good Old is New Again
Choosing games is a tricky business, and GOG has help from the community. "Before GOG.com even launched we did research and created a long list of the most requested old games that people are looking for on the internet. We also have a 'most wanted' list on GOG.com that is an indicator for us what games our community expects." However, just because gamers want a game doesn't mean that GOG can offer it. For starters, there's the question of who owns the rights. What happens if the original developer isn't around anymore? "Lots of publishers and developers have bankrupted, been bought by other companies, sold rights to their games to other companies, etc. So it's really a hell of a job to find the right people to talk to about those old games. Having the support of CD Projekt who distributed many PC titles to the Polish market in the 90s definitely helps us in approaching the right people."
Tracking down the rights to a game is just the first step in the acquisition process. The next step is convincing the owners to let GOG sell the games. "If we finally manage to figure out who owns what IPs we're contacting the owners of the games and another stage starts in the process. We have to present the offer, negotiate the conditions and agreeing on legal terms," explains Kukawski. This sometimes turns out to be a bit of a problem, even for games that haven't been on the market in decades. "With our approach to DRM this can be hard as hell, as in many cases we have to convince the rights owners that selling their products without any kind of copy protection is actually a good idea and it doesn't mean the games will get pirated. We need to convince them that the games that are laying in their archives and getting dusty can be monetized and bring a lot of good PR. Reviving the brands that were once very popular can even help with new games, so it's a win-win situation for everyone." The only thing left is to agree on price, but even that presents its own challenges. "This stage also includes negotiating prices of games, shares of revenue, etc. When everything is clear, the agreement goes to the legal department, where it can get stuck for weeks. In many cases that's the most time consuming stage in the whole process, and it's for sure the most boring one."
With the paperwork out of the way, the technical wizardry starts. In some ways, GOG is like a development studio, just working with pre-existing code and art assets. "Programmers get their hands on masters to optimize them to run on Win XP/Vista/7, testers check the builds, the product team starts working on game pages, additional materials, etc., while the design team prepares all the graphics. When games get finally released we only hope that our users are as happy and excited as we were while working on them."