By John Walker on September 22nd, 2010 at 5:21 pm.
So what is going on at Good Old Games? The press conference is in full flow, and the company has announced… it was a hoax. Quite possibly one of the most ill-advised hoaxes imaginable. The site will continue on, completely rewritten and no longer in beta, with a few new features and some new games. There’s all the details below.
More details will be added, so refresh until I say not to. It’s finished. The site relaunches tomorrow at 1pm, UK time.
Speculation has been rife since the site disappeared last Sunday, replaced with simple text statements deliberately implying that the site was closing down. “This doesn’t mean the idea behind GOG.com is gone forever,” they said. “We’re closing down the service and putting this era behind us as new challenges await.”
It was all thinly veiled allusions toward their beta phase coming to an end, rather than the site disappearing forever. But it was one that saw users unable to access their games for five days, without knowing if they’d get them back.
GoG chose to deliver the message by dressing as monks and expressing “our humble apologies”, stating that “we have sinned”. Rather than any sense of contrition, they’ve instead chosen to continue their joke, which in light of their extremely poor decisions, while certainly quite funny out of context, doesn’t seem a brilliant plan.
The site needed to close down for the update, but their choosing not to explain this to their audience with any clarity will long be remembered as one of games publishing’s poorest choices. Boasting “a lot of hints”, they imply that it was the audience’s fault for not having gotten the joke. A joke, they say, was because they feel the industry is too “stiff”. They have not been bought by a larger distribution platform, and will continue to be an independent publisher.
98% of the website code has been rewritten. The site is “ten times faster”, and can now handle six times as many users. And the download client – which was always horrible – has gone.
In demonstrating their new simple login system, unfortunately they managed to screw up their own password, and then complain that it’s running too slowly.
There’s a new recommendation system, which will suggest games to you based on games you’ve bought, and those you’ve rated. The game catalogue will divide games by genre, letting you filter by really specific choices, including single or multiplayer gaming.
Product pages will explain “what’s cool about this game”. These are being written by fans of the games, rather than quoted from marketing speak. They also say they will have been completely tested from “A to Z”, hopefully suggesting they’ll all be guaranteed to work.
They will continue to bundle “goodies” with games. 150 of the games in their catalogue will work in Windows 7, and they intend to patch the rest in the future.
They’ve also added a download calculator on each game page that lets you work out how long it will take to reach your hard drive. And there’s all the community doodahs everyone else is adding, Facebook buttons, a community page that lets you leap straight to forum topics you’re interested in, and simplifies their forum system.
PC Gamer also reports that they will have Baldur’s Gate when the service comes back. PCG also has a statement from the team, saying:
“First of all we’d like to apologize to everyone who felt deceived or harmed in any way by the closedown of GOG.com. As a small company we don’t have a huge marketing budget and this why we could not miss a chance to generate some buzz around an event as big as launching a brand new version of our website.”
They’re also very excited about their “GOGmix”, which seemingly allows you to get recommendations for games from others more expert than you. (At this point in the presentation you can really tell they’re bored of their own monk joke, but still they persist.)
The site is two years old in October, and with that they have a big surprise. Unfortunately by telling PC Gamer that surprise earlier, well, we already knew. So their big finish is to announce Baldur’s Gate, with expansion. But sadly no word on Baldur’s Gate 2 yet. But they imply that it may be coming, along with other classic RPGs. No hint on Planescape: Torment, however. It’s great that the game will be available once more, but it has of course been released on budget repeatedly over the last decade.
The site relaunches at 1pm tomorrow, UK time, with Baldur’s Gate available then.
Almost a confession that the hoax was a mistake at the end there, but corrected to “a technical mistake”.
They finish by professing they intend to be “the number one alternative to Steam.”
Update: here’s the video.