Own S.T.A.L.K.E.R.? Get It Free And DRM-Free From GOG

The one certainty with news items about S.T.A.L.K.E.R. [official site] is there’s at least a 70 percent chance they’ve been planted by Jim. Thanks Jim!

GOG.com continues to blow the horn in support of DRM-free everything with a new game reclaiming service, which you can check it out for yourself in this generously placed link. The idea is that if you bought a game legitimately but the game no longer works because of unsupported DRM or other causes, then you can enter your original game key in order to get a free copy of the game through GOG’s DRM-free online store.

In a blog post that I think you’re meant to read while playing Ravel’s Bolero, GoG wages its war on retail games that end up just not working because of unsupported DRM or system incompatibilities. “There are countless retail games out there that don’t work for various reasons: unsupported types of DRM, system incompatibilities, broken features. There’s too many too count. Starting today, owners of several retail titles originally sold with DRM can get a digital copy of their game completely free at GOG.com: with no DRM as always, compatible with modern operating systems, and with plenty of goodies to boot.”

Right now this only applies to six games: worldwide editions of S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl, S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky, S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat, and versions of Mount & Blade: Warband, Mount & Blade: With Fire & Sword and Eador: Genesis that released in CIS and Russian territories. GOG are presumably hoping they can strike deals with other developers and publishers to do the same. Hopefully games with fewer punctuation marks in them, so it’s easier to type.


  1. ZIGS says:

    So if I own a game I can get it for free? What a brave new world :)

    • RegisteredUser says:

      More than that, you suddenly get to have a copy that will run independently of the internet or someone else watching.
      Now THAT is the truly crazy bit!

    • Continuity says:


  2. Premium User Badge

    Oakreef says:

    My retail CD key for Shadow of Chernobyl also worked.

    • welverin says:

      I got the keys for Clear Sky and Call of Pripyat to work, but Steam doesn’t have a link in my library for Shadow of Chernobyl. Is that displayed in game anywhere?

      • Jalan says:

        Start the game, open the multiplayer screen and up near the top right corner of the available games window you’ll see a Key section – click it and it will reveal the key. That key displayed is the serial/CD key you’ve been assigned for Shadow of Chernobyl. Another method involves going into the registry and viewing it that way, but I assure you that it is the same key either way you do it.

        Also, don’t be too surprised if you find that the key for it comes up invalid. Apparently a few people had that same issue and I don’t know if it’s been fixed or not (or if it needed fixing at all). It only seems to apply to those who bought the game on Steam though, so if you have a boxed copy on hand with a working serial you should use it instead.

        • Eiv says:

          Thanks bud, used that method and the key worked in GOG. :D

        • welverin says:

          Thanks, I shall try that out.

        • KRVeale says:

          Another option that I just ran into is clicking on the game in your Steam library, even if it’s not installed – there should be a CD Key entry on the right-hand side. Click on that, and it’ll ask if you want to copy the key to the clipboard.

          Paste that into the GOG page and off you go. I did that just now for Clear Sky and Call of Pripyat, which was much faster than my original plan of installing the games and looking for the keys.

          Thanks for the instructions, though! If I’d had them installed I wouldn’t have known where to look, and without your suggestion I wouldn’t have gone looking at all.

          • Jalan says:

            Note that in my original reply to welverin, the game in question was Shadow of Chernobyl which does not have that CD Key URL available when viewing the game in your Steam library (it’s the only S.T.A.L.K.E.R. title that doesn’t) so the only way of getting access to the key for it is to have had the game installed currently (or previously and still have the game’s registry info present on your system).

            Your method is the most optimal method for both Clear Sky and Call of Pripyat though. But, again, there’s still some weird chance the keys there will come up invalid when attempting to use them on the GOG redemption page.

  3. RegisteredUser says:

    For M&B:Warband, you were able to get a steam independent copy from talewords before already. Ironically enough, most of the game’s community centers around multiplayer fighting due to the sophisticated melee combat system.

    Its still a smart move by GoG. They basically can harvest some users from this, and any reason for account creation is basically an entry gate into “may as well have a look around here”.
    The most difficult part in this intellecutal property weirdness world is likely getting an agreement hammered out where instead of having to rebuy a copy you can actually do this kind of thing.
    Probably why its such a small amount of games, because I do suspect they tried to get this sorted out for a lot more.

    • April March says:

      Certainly a smart move – they’re trying to do for DRM freedom what Steam keys do for convenience. I hope they are succesful in this. I also hope that one day I can get a free copy of Caesar II from them (mine has been smudged and crashes every time I enter combat – this back when it was a brand new game).

      • AngoraFish says:

        It’s a very smart move, if they can afford the bandwidth.

        What Steam has over every other distributor is that all your bloody games are already there and locked into that service. Existing users therefore have incentive to remain where all their existing games already are.

        If a larger proportion of your games are with a different proprietor, however, you’re ultimately more likely to jump ship entirely, particularly once GOGs new client fires up.

  4. WiggumEsquilax says:

    According to the GOG forums, this service isn’t limited to copies suffering dead DRM links. Has Valve angered you for whatever reason? Let GOG Steam clean your S.T.A.L.K.E.R.!

    • OddsAgainst says:

      Tried to start my copy in Steam today in offline mode: “Failed to contact key server”… Yeah I’ll take you up on this GOG

  5. phelix says:

    Curiously, my Steam key for Clear Sky works but the ones for SoC and Call of Pripyat don’t.

    • Jalan says:

      Be worried if it comes up as “already used” vs. “invalid”, if you know for certain that you never used it anywhere else.

  6. Harvey says:

    Can any of you S.T.A.L.K.E.R. fans help me out? I’ve read many gushing reviews and, trusting the RPS community explicitly, have attempted failed to play it not once but thrice.

    Each time, I enjoy the first zone quite a bit. Learning the ropes, enjoying the atmosphere. My failure and frustration comes as soon as I enter the second zone. Is there a well-known spike in difficulty, or some bug? The quests I have found to attempt are quite tough, and IIRC even an NPC who could continue a quest line can die during one of them, leaving me twisting in the wind. I hate never-ending enemy spawn as well, and in a game with limited weapons and items by design I just don’t see the reasoning behind it.

    This is a game I want to like, so help me out: What am I doing wrong? Have I missed something colossal? Is my chosen play-style in adventure FPS (sneaky sharpshooter) standing in my way?

    I appreciate your input.

    • Sin Vega says:

      I try to play the first Stalker every few years, later with various mods, and always give up because as atmospheric and original as it is, it’s irritating and unplayably broken. The third one is much better, I only stopped playing that because I had no motivation to go on. Deeper into the zone? Into an area that somebody sealed off, filled with traps, and flooded with radiation just to keep whatever was in there from ever escaping? WHY WOULD ANYONE EVER. GO HOME.

      • Sin Vega says:

        (oops. forgot lack of edit function)

        More specifically, Stalker’s combat means that shooting anyone anywhere other than the head is a waste of time, stealth is ridiculously awkward and unreliable (even if you miraculously get close enough to stab someone, the blow often just won’t register), most guns are worthless, and combat is largely a matter of hit point attrition and repeatedly pressing the bandage/medkit keys. The latter is still somewhat true by Stalker 3, but the guns are less terrible and the controls are better, and there’s no need to have the exact same six fights every single time you walk through an area.

      • SlimShanks says:

        Ok, I’ve been thinking recently. Do we have to get upset with EVERY game that is too hard for us and declare it broken and unplayable? I see this a lot, and it’s kinda getting on my nerves. Maybe, just maybe, it is your playstyle that is wrong… or the game is just meant to be difficult. Not intrinsically understanding a game doesn’t necessarily make it broken.

        • Sin Vega says:

          Quite apart from my saying that I really enjoyed Stalker 3 mainly because it’s not so broken, and apart from the ridiculously hard settings I intentionally chose for FWE (link to lonelymushroom.com), you’re really going to have to do better than that tediously predictable response.

          When you’ve fought the exact same fight 12 times, and have completed the mission to save the NPCs so many times that they’re literally camping in a pile of corpses, yet the game still continues to respawn the same bandits every single time you walk past, I don’t call that “omg maybe it’s too hard for you you’re doing it wrong”, I call it “fix your goddamn game”.

          See also: spending 5 minutes creeping up on someone with a knife, only for the attack to do absolutely nothing about 50% of the time, rendering stealth even more useless than it was with silenced guns.

          • Muppetizer says:

            Stealth is definitely an issue in STALKER given how divergent to the point of randomness the AI can be, the way audio works, and their sight distances. I think the headshot complaint might be expounded a tad by the modded difficulty you were talking about though. A lot of mods seem to add to the headshot need.

            I like to play it with just the unofficial patch on the game’s hardest setting and most human enemies, bar the power armour dudes, go down in four or five body shots — or less with shotguns. A few of the mutants do like to scale a bit oddly in that regard though, although that adds to a lot of the hunter feeling for me where I really feel the need to sit in a bush and line up my shot precisely, and the terror when things inevitably go wrong.

          • SlimShanks says:

            Oh dear. You are making this too easy for me.
            So, you used ridiculously hard settings, and then came here to complain that the game is broken?

            Piss off.

          • Kaeoschassis says:

            I’m sorry are you actually trying to say that Stalker – the FIRST Stalker – is not broken? At all?
            Or even that it’s only a little bit broken? You what, sorry?

            I’m one of the biggest fanboys the first Stalker has and even I can acknowledge that game is a giant, buggy, glitchy, clunky mess. A mess filled with joyously atmospheric dreariness and great ideas, a FUN mess, but still a mess. Are you just going to completely ignore the entirely valid and objectively accurate points Sin Vega made just because they played on a harder difficulty? The knife’s total ineffectiveness, the absolutely hillarious enemy spawns (how many times have you entered a different area and IMMEDIATELY been shot by a roving bandit gang? I’ve had enemies literally spawn right infront of me on various occasions) and the dodgy, completely unpredictable and inconsistent AI and detection logic are all really big, really serious problems that would turn a ton of people off for very, very good reason. All are totally independent of difficulty level.

            It’s a fantastic game, it’s amazing fun, but I’ve played it through so many times I have it all pretty much memorized and I suspect at this point, that’s the only reason it doesnt seem hugely unfair to me. There’s nothing wrong with accepting it for what it is, there’s nothing wrong with advising people that it’s a mess and suggesting that they might like to start elsewhere. There’s plenty wrong with being hostile and abrasive because somebody points out some flaws in a game you don’t want to see.

            Or is this not even about you getting defensive about Stalker? Have you even played it? Or are you just being a dick on purpose?

          • Sin Vega says:

            So, you used ridiculously hard settings, and then came here to complain that the game is broken?

            Piss off.

            No. No, I didn’t. I used hard settings for other games, which I mention to point out that “it’s just too hard for you!” isn’t accurate.

            I tried very hard to like Stalker despite its problems, with and without mods, and just couldn’t do it. I don’t look down on anyone for loving it anyway (I love way too many broken games to have a leg to stand on, for a start), but recommending it without reservation will only disappoint and annoy people who find out the hard way what a mess it is.

          • SlimShanks says:

            I have to apologize, I was quite drunk last night. You deserve a more eloquent response. However I still think you are being silly. First of all, please settle on what exactly your point is, because you started off saying that the game was irritating and broken and then referenced a bunch of things that aren’t real issues in the game… unless you are playing it wrong. Combat is a matter of attrition? …oh dear. This is why I made my first comment.
            I totally agree with you that many things don’t work in Stalker games, but they are far from unplayable. So if you just wanted to say that some things in Stalker games don’t work… thanks, I guess. We knew.
            Lastly, I’m not going to argue about game mechanics, I have played these games to death. I know. Please understand that when you start saying things about a beloved game THAT ARE NOT TRUE, people will be upset. Expect people to get cranky EVERY time you do this. That said, I am sorry I got bent out of shape.

          • Sin Vega says:

            I appreciate the apology, and to be fair I was fairly combative myself, so sorry for that.

            I don’t think my comments about the game are wrong, though. It has a litany of problems that add up to an experience so confusing and irritating that it’s unplayable to me, and its great setting and uniquely unsettling atmosphere are done more justice by the third one (possibly the second too, I wouldn’t know).

          • SlimShanks says:

            Agree to disagree?

      • Whelp says:

        ‘Unplayably broken’?
        Funny, because I must’ve played through it like half a dozen times. Never used any mods either.

        • CookPassBabtridge says:

          Me too. I am fairly sure I have played SHOC through more than 10 times, to the point where I know a lot of it like .. a…STALKER knows the zone? I love it. I am an inveterate save scummer, but my favourite trick is to lure the soldiers forward from the Cordon army base, and do sneaky peaky from behind a tree, then run like stink. One of two things happens: They chase you, so you run away. Then later you go and pick up a nice assault rifle. OR, and this is the best outcome: The soldiers follow you to the little starting village, and a huge gunfight breaks out (the soldiers will fire on the loners and they fire back), leaving you to hoover up a ton of great guns and ammo. Sadly you cannot get the army armour.

          Once you have some better weapons, go and take out the army post wayyy before the actual mission to do it. As long as you use sneaky peaky a ton and go for headshots, you can make it. But yeah, there’s all sorts of little tricks and kit you can find to make life easier. Search EVERYWHERE and make sure to loot any and every corpse you see as caches will (stupidly) not be filled until you find the appropriate PDA for it. There is a mod somewhere that will put the rightful contents in the stashes before you find the PDA’s, in the same way as its done in CoP.

          Guerilla tactics work best in STALKER – use lean a lot, pick guys off then run away. As they follow, so their ranks thin out, giving you a better chance.

        • Kaeoschassis says:

          I think Stalker has redefined – or skewed – what I think of as “unplayably broken”. I’ve clocked multiple completions and who knows how many other half-complete runs, but I’ve also lost progress to broken saves. It was Stalker that taught me to keep multiple backups saves from previous points, after I first encountered the bug where if you get spotted and killed, and then load, there’s a chance that EVERY ENEMY IN THE LEVEL will know exactly where you are and make a direct course for you. The amount of savescumming I had to do – HAD to do – to get through that one was hilarious.
          I’ve had mission critical NPCs refuse to talk to me. I’ve had enemies suddenly appear out of thin air directly infront of me. I’ve had a mission (not a story one in this instance, but it just as easily could have been) become permanently uncompletable because I killed the target just slightly before the game wanted me to. (The one the Freedom leader gives you to kill the duty group camped outside his base, by the way. I’m not making these up, these are the ones I can specifically and vividly remember. There are plenty of others that have blended together)

          No, I don’t really think of Stalker as “unplayably broken”. But where the hell do you draw the line? I’ve beaten it multiple times because I was determined to, bugs or no bugs, and it took a heck of a lot of effort and the ability to laugh it off when something completely outside my control goes catastrophically wrong. Not everybody feels like it’s fair to expect that from someone just for the sake of beating a game.

          What I’m getting at here is that there seems to be an attitude going around that Stalker’s bugginess is exagerated out of all proportion, and it really isn’t. You can have dozens, maybe hundreds of hours of joy from it, but you’ve got to know what you’re getting into.

    • skalpadda says:

      By the second zone I assume you mean Garbage? At that point you probably have pretty bad equipment and once you get past Garbage/Agroprom you’ll start getting decent equipment and your supply situation should stabilise.

      I don’t think there are any NPC deaths that can completely wreck the game (NPCs can die, but they’ll usually have PDAs with the info you need to continue quests).

      Enemy respawning does make sense given the intention of the developers. They wanted to simulate the zone and had some pretty complex AI stuff planned (which they never got to work properly) with factions and monsters hunting and fighting for territory. The game is built around re-visiting areas with circumstances changing, so if you want to “clean the levels” this may simply not be the game for you.

      • Jalan says:

        Bes. If he dies in the Garbage shootout with the bandits, you’re screwed.

        • skalpadda says:

          Bes isn’t part of the main plot at all, IIRC. If he dies you shouldn’t lose more than his quest reward, which can’t be much of anything at that point in the game, so I’d hardly call that screwed.

          • CookPassBabtridge says:

            You can get some better guns if you are brave enough to take on the soldiers guarding the rail bridge at the Cordon. Again guerilla tactics work best here, taking out one at a time, running away to heal and then coming back. It works even better if you can nab a decent gun in the midst of the fire fight but it requires speedy looting skills.

          • Jalan says:

            You must not IIRC, IIRC (I wished there was a funnier way to put that since it seems obnoxious like that). The call for help mission is one of the early missions once you enter Garbage (after the bit where the loner is being ganged up on by three bandits at the entrance). I didn’t say it was part of the main quest line but that early on in the game, ridding the area of the bandit nuisance that could much later on become a bigger annoyance near the train yard + the 2000R reward Bes gives (if he survives) and the possibility of looting any and all bandit and loner corpses from the fight help quite a bit that early in the game (even if only for future trading purposes).

    • skalpadda says:

      I forgot to answer the last thing. Sneaky sharpshooter is fine as a playstyle (arguably even required in some later parts of the game unless you go the heavy armour route). The early guns are not suited to it at all though, and you won’t really get good long range weapons until you get to Wild Territory (it’s possible before then but only if you know where to look or get very lucky). Sneaking is also mostly useful to either avoid enemies entirely or to set up a good first strike – once combat starts you’re unlikely to remain undetected for long.

    • Buckie says:

      Best 2 tips i was ever given about starting this game were….
      1. The last bungalow on the left as you leave the starting village… in the roof space (you need to jump across the roofs and low crouch to get it) is hidden a great body armor that will do you for most of the first half of the game
      2. after getting the body armor leave the village, turn right and head towards the military post, 1/2 way between the village and the post, on the right are a couple of bushes that have 2-3 crates hidden in them, burst them open, and they contain more than enough pistol ammo to last you till you start getting the good guns.

    • GunnerMcCaffrey says:

      1. Ignore the comment that the game is “broken.” Many of us have completed it multiple times.
      2. Stopping power comes from a combination of weapon (condition, damage output, flatness) and ammunition. Keep your gun repaired, or swap it out for better ones you find on corpses or in stashes. Rely on cheap grenades and conventional rounds for lightly/non-armoured foes (holding on to any hollow point rounds for when every shot really needs to count), saving AP rounds and frag grenades for soldiers. Carry a shotty for animals. Remember that conventional grenades have a low effective radius, while frags can easily hurt you too.
      3. Sometimes it’s not the bullet that kills you, but the bleeding.
      4. Kneeling improves accuracy; lying prone improves it further.
      5. You need a scope.
      6. It’s old, but it’s not old school. You are not a bullet-sponge FPS hero, and full auto is for suckers – it wastes ammo and degrades accuracy. Get used to burst mode. Become friends with the lean button. Your enemies are better shots than you and can take more damage, so even the odds however you can. Before engaging, get low and use that scope. Once they start approaching, use grenades. Once it’s on, use your legs. Once it goes bad, use your god-given cowardice. Choose your targets, be methodical, keep moving. And treat your wounds.
      7. Trade with anyone who isn’t shooting at you.

    • TheRealHankHill says:

      At the risk of sounding like a dick just saying “lol git gud scrub” I’ve never had any of those issues in STALKER and I play on the hardest difficulty setting every time. Headshot are impt but even on the hardest difficulty 4-5 body shots will typically put someone down, so I don’t really get the bullet sponge thing? Did you mod the game with something weird?

      • TheRealHankHill says:

        Just realized it wasn’t you who said that but the other guy. This being said the comment above me is very very apt in how to be successful with staker. You have to think in terms of survival not rambo. Head shots. Head shots. More headshot. Def trade with everyone you can and money isn’t an issue. After the second area (The Garbage) you will get better equipment and that is when the game REALLY kicks off. I actually never moved past the garbage for 2 years and then one day I forced my self to power through and STALKER became my favorite game series ever, even above half life.

    • Premium User Badge

      Qazinsky says:

      People have given quite good tips already, I’m just gonna give some more weapon specific advice early on.

      Get yourself an AKM-74/2 (think AK47 if you’re used to game guns), this is a good starter rifle with good reliability which is important since you can’t always find/buy new guns. Only keep it at auto if you’re going to kill enemies at very close range, think about five metres, otherwise, toggle single shot mode.

      To handle your enemies, approach at decent range, you should have something solid to the left or right of you to slip behind after you are discovered. Now take a shot slightly above your opponents head, since bullets fall. See where the bullet goes and compensate, if it went too low, aim higher.

      As a pistol, you can’t go wrong with a Martha, if you can find one (harder to do in the first game) this gun recoils BACKWARDS instead of upwards, meaning it will stay on target after each shot.

      As for mutants, you’re gonna want a shotgun or your gun at auto, they are very durable. Legs preferable to pistol or knife.

  7. desolation0 says:

    You could already enter most any key for The Witcher series into GOG through the regular code redemption page, for anyone who hasn’t yet.

    • mattevansc3 says:

      It wouldn’t accept either of my Witcher or Witcher 2 keys from Steam. I managed to get Witcher 2 free through one of their deals later on but I sent them an email, as per their instructions, showing a screen shot of the games in my Steam library to get it added to my GoG account. That was about three months ago and not even an acknowledgment email.

      In fact I sent GoG a few service tickets and tweets because their Twitter feed listed some games on sale at 50% off but on the store were only 25% off. Not a single response from GoG.

      From my experience I would have to put their customer service as worse than Valve’s.

  8. CXRN says:

    I own all the games on Steam, but only Clear Sky could be redeemed.

    Eh, whatever. I’ll just continue never using GoG I guess.

  9. drewski says:

    Got Chernobyl and Pripyat redeemed. Sweet. Now I get all the benefits of DRM free gamings and I still have the paper manuals! Woo!

    This is actually a pretty neat idea. Sucks that it doesn’t work perfectly for everyone I guess, but it’s a nice perk nonetheless. In 20 years when I finally get around to playing the two Stalker games I have, they should still actually work!

  10. fitzroy_doll says:

    Ha, I now own Clear Sky in all 3 formats (GOG/Steam/DVD). The DVD version had a nasty bit of DRM that would check the DVD every time you loaded a save game. This meant the game was unplayable, as the DVD will have spun down and failed the check when it came time to load a save. Made it impossible to play.

  11. GreenGrump says:

    While Vanilla is a questionable experience modded with Complete made it the best gaming experience i have ever had.

    Lost Alpha takes it to another level.

    Complete Mod: link to moddb.com
    Lost Alpha: link to moddb.com

    I have friends who think they have completed this game and every now and then i remind them being showered in gold is not really an ending, just a FMV of your death….

  12. kimberlypcrook says:

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  13. haradaya says:

    This saved me a future frustration and headache. All my 3 retail STALKER game keys were accepted.

  14. Retroblique says:

    STALKER: Shadow of Chernobyl (Retail): Worked
    STALKER: Clear Sky (Steam): Invalid
    STALKER: Call of Pripyat (Steam): Worked

    • Premium User Badge

      zapatapon says:

      STALKER: Shadow of Chernobyl (Impulse, from way back when it was Stardock-owned): Worked
      STALKER: Call of Pripyat (ditto): Worked

      Exactly a case of defunct DRM and worked as announced. Nice.

  15. Tayh says:

    That’s awesome.
    Sort of hoping they’ll get a drm-free deal with Metro 2033 as well. Bought that near release day and then never installed it because I found out it required steam.

  16. Cantisque says:

    This is the sort of thing I always wish Steam would have done, to give publishers the ability to offer customers download standalone installations through Steams website instead of always through the client.
    It could be totally optional on a per-game basis, but there are many games that simply don’t need the Steam client to be fully enjoyed and many people don’t have massive game libraries to manage.