The DRM-free digital game store GOG have reversed a baffling curation decision and started selling Opus Magnum, the wonderful machine-building puzzler from the studio behind Spacechem and Shenzhen I/O. GOG had initially declined to stock the game and gave developers Zachtronics a mysterious explanation that it “did not pass our internal curation system”. Given that Opus Magnum is one of the best PC games of 2017 and that GOG already stocked several similar Zachtronics games, y’know, it was weird. With digital stores drawing different lines in the virtuasand over which games they will and won’t stock, this stuck out as an unexpected casualty of curation.
Earlier this year, when Zachtronics asked for an explanation to publicly share with people who didn’t understand why Opus Magnum wasn’t on GOG, the store’s statement wasn’t entirely illuminating. He tweeted it.
“We rarely ever want to share any details of the actual system and how it looks and what it means, because it’s just too individual; we take into consideration many other factors than just the game itself – the reviews we provide for example do not review the entire game in general; so like an objective game review like on PC Gamer or what not – but we do it from the angle of our entire user-base.”
[Note: the ‘PC Gamer’ GOG refer to is a cheery RPS fanzine -ed.]
The workings of GOG’s curation are baffling considering the store does sell a large number of games that I will generously say are not as good as Opus Magnum. GOG does have a particular slant, mind. For years, it focused on vintage games that are very traditional PC gaming: lots of strategy games, first-person shooters, RPGs, and adventure games that are best viewed through a haze of nostalgia. This built the foundations for the store’s audience and, while GOG have widened their focus and started selling new games too, it does still have that air.
Opus Magnum is great, yeah, but I can sorta see why GOG might skip it while accepting the rubbo 3D Realms game Bombshell.
The hitch is that the vision GOG are curating for isn’t clear from looking at the store, so the decision seemed arbitrary – and incorrect. To be honest, I’m not sure this curated vision is clear within GOG either, but I can get a vague feel for it by looking at what they do and don’t stock. To me GOG’s vision is often a little boring but hey, it seems to mostly work for them. And evidently they are willing to refresh this curatorial eye.
“The game’s outstanding quality and community demand speak loudly and clearly – we’re human, we’re not infallible, but we’re also not immovable,” GOG tweeted about this reversal in a reply yesterday. “It’s great that we get to listen, reevaluate, and bring Opus Magnum’s to our catalog in the end – it’s every bit worth it.”