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GOG Talks Up the Process of Reviving Retro Games

| 21 Sep 2013 14:15

GOG's Trevor Longino wants to add Mechwarrior and the LucasArts library to the retailer's retro offerings.

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Since its inception Good Old Games, or GOG, as its known now, has delivered retro PC titles to gamers who, for years, had little recourse but struggle with compatibility issues. Now, five years since the digital retailer first launched, it possesses a product line vastly expanded from its original offerings. Its ever growing library of old school games has also been bolstered by the addition of the newer and independently developed titles. That being said, retro is still GOG's core and the digital retailer recently took the time to run us through the process of acquiring old games and reviving them for modern audiences.

"At GOG.com, we have a few ways of selecting our classic games," explained PR head Trevor Longino. "One is our personal recollections--we have quite a lot of knowledgeable gamers on staff so they have tons of memories and insight." The team's personal experiences are also bolstered by ratings sites like Metacritc as well as GOG user wishlists "which we've found [are] one of the strongest indicators of our community's interest in a title."

The desires of its customers and team set aside, new additions to the GOG library often come down to what the website can "realistically" get its hands on. "Some of the games we'd love to sign are in such legal tangles that we don't pursue it actively until and unless we learn something new about the game that indicates that we may be able to sign it."

These legal obstacles are sometimes exacerbated by GOG's dedication to keeping its products DRM-free. While it's a stance that arguably draws in customers looking for an alternative to more restrictive digital retailers, it occasionally leads to "rights-holders [not wanting] to deal with GOG." That being the case the company has often found that "time and patience" can shift the tide of negotiations. "The sole fact that we have been a successful business--for 5 years and counting--that is based around the belief in absolute rejection of DRM is reason enough for our current and future partners to at least entertain the idea of, sooner or later, embracing the DRM-free goodness."

The retro release process, of course, doesn't stop with the mere acquisition of rights. A big part of GOG's success has been the fact that its retro offerings are playable out of the box (metaphorically speaking), making it easy for gamers to revisit old favorites on new machines. The adaptation process can vary in length from about "4 weeks to 4 months" depending on the game. "Theme Hospital, for example, was a bear to get working," said Longino. "There is always a lot of trouble with most of the early Windows 95 games that were developed at the time when DOS-based Windows was becoming a thing of the past. Some of these games are still 16-bit and making them run on 64-bit systems is one hell of a job."

Legal and technical difficulties aside, GOG has pushed forward adding counting classics and, of course, continuing its pursuit of others. "I'm a huge fan of the Mechwarrior games and I'd love to add them," shared Longino. He also wouldn't mind adding titles "from the late, great LucasArts." These are just the tip of iceberg however. "There are so many classic games out there...and we're definitely not giving up on any of them."

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