GOG: Preserving Gaming’s Past & Future

(keyboard keys clicking)
(calm atmospheric music)
– [Danny] Today when we
see the words CD Projekt,
we think about terrifically Slavic
open world role-playing games.
Perhaps we think of a card game,
or more often than anything today,
a first-person Cyberpunk adventure.
But these are all the
fruits of CD Projekt RED,
the development studio founded in 2002.
Their parent company, CD Projekt,
has been distributing games throughout
Poland as far back as 1994.
You see, years before CDP
started to make games, they sold them.
And they sold them in one of the
most unforgiving markets on the planet.
For decades, the media market in
communist Poland was dominated by piracy.
In a country with no
copyright law to speak of
where people had little money,
open air markets were the most common way
to get music, movies, or games,
where cheap knockoffs were sold alongside
official boxed copies for
a fraction of the price.
So when the Iron Curtain finally came down
and Poland emerged into capitalism,
the market was full of
a generation of people
who had been conditioned to
think that piracy was the norm
and official releases were
like special editions.
It’s the knowledge of
this consumer behavior
that helped CD Projekt beat the pirates.
They struck deals with foreign developers
to sell games like Ace
Ventura and Baldur’s Gate.
Then they cracked those games open
and localized them into Polish.
They made special Polish box art
and packaged the games with goodies,
cloth maps, mouse pads, and much more.
They would beat piracy the
only way they knew how,
not by using DRM, but
by making the official
boxed copy of the game
worth that extra cost.
So why am I telling you this?
Well, because the spirit of CD Projekt’s
distribution company would go on to create
one of the most powerful forces
in games preservation today.
A team of people who hunt down
the code for forgotten games,
who broker deals between
companies all around the world,
and then break those games apart
to recode them to work on modern systems.
To many people, GOG.com is just
another place to buy games,
but today we’re going to
uncover the incredible work
that these people do behind the scenes,
their never-ending mission to bring
good old games back from the dead.
(upbeat electronic music)
(relaxing electronic music)
– In the early days, like when I joined,
let’s say close to 20 years ago,
I’d say the biggest competitor
for the CD Projekt was the piracy.
That was like the biggest thing in Poland.
I mean, compared to today, back
then it was like really bad.
Like, rarely anyone bought new games.
The games were expensive
and the typical, folks would
just say why would you spend
so much money on a game
if you can buy it, you
can go to the stadium.
We called it Stadion Dziesieciolecia,
like basically that’s
known as a sport’s stadium,
but back in the day it
was just basically used
for selling all kind of illegal
goods, with movies, games,
music, whatever you would think of, yeah?
– Real market, let’s say the legal market,
didn’t exist, so everything
was pirate software.
We didn’t know that actually
it’s a pirated thing
because we were actually
going to the flea markets,
buying the CD-ROMs in the jewel cases,
thinking that actually we are buying
it straight from the
developer or publisher.
We were happy.
We were getting them sometimes
with a very weird localization.
But again, we just thought that okay,
maybe they didn’t have enough
resources or not enough money.
So it was interesting to enjoy it.
At the same time, from time to time
we were getting these big
boxes from our parents.
We were thinking these
were collector’s editions.
But actually, these were the
legal, the actual copies.
Like proper DVD cases with
some manuals, instructions.
– At that point, basically
guys like, kind of made maybe
the obvious discovery
from our point of view
that there is no way to
fight piracy with DRMs.
Because I don’t think there is
any title which was not pirated.
It’s maybe a matter of time,
sometimes hours, sometimes maybe days.
There were titles which took longer,
but in the end, you know
all the stuff is pirated.
So there was always this one sentence
that actually Marcin used to repeat,
which likely strikes a chord in me.
If a paying, like legal customer,
has to go through some extra
hassle because of a DRM,
while the customer who, customer,
well the guy who just downloaded the game
from illegally, doesn’t
have to go through,
then there is something really
wrong at that point, yeah?
I mean, why?
You’re supposed to, you’re paying for this
and you have, like, a worse experience?
How come, yeah?
So at that point, I think
this kind of anti-DRM,
anti-copy protection kind of thing
was already part of the DNA of the company
and we were trying more to win
the hearts of the customers
with the content, with the
titles, with the prices
rather than with any
kind of copy protections.
So once we moved into like,
hey, let’s start digital,
let’s try to do our own
digital distributions platform,
I think it was kind of like very obvious
that you would start from that point.
– [Danny] DRM, or digital
rights management,
has been around for decades.
In the modern era, it usually
involves digital licenses
that ensure you are the
person who purchased the game,
like logging into your
iTunes account or Steam.
With the rise of digital
distribution in the mid-2000s,
CD Projekt’s founders Marcin
Iwinski and Michal Kicinski,
saw an opportunity to
bring their learnings
from the distribution
days into this modern era.
So they founded a new subsidiary,
GOG, or Good Old Games.
– GOG is the digital heritage
of our distribution business.
We saw how the digital is
developing, and it was only Steam,
but we thought it was
super cool for the gamers.
And initially we found our
niche with the back catalog.
So back catalog, the
learnings from Baldur’s Gate,
so the reverse engineering,
making it compatible and whatnot.
And most importantly, great selection
that we were always good at.
And the best service for
gamers we can provide.
So that intentionally
was the fundament of GOG,
plus obviously DRM-free and
that’s what we believed in.
– [Danny] Why is the
DRM-free so important to you?
– Ah.
Because it’s freedom.
It’s do what you want with
your game, we trust you.
It comes from the days of piracy here.
it’s like us with Baldur’s Gate
competing against the pirates.
And it was always the
carrot, never the stick.
So because we make such a great thing
and it’s fairly priced
and there is great service
and we guarantee it works
and you can be part of the community,
we are sure you will buy it.
And you will not steal it.
And even if we protect it,
you still can get a cracked version.
So why should we give
you an inferior version?
And it proved a point.
Why to buy back catalog games?
Why would you need that?
Some of you probably won’t play them.
But I want to have them in my collection,
so you have a beautiful
looking digital shelf
and digital collection of games.
I think that’s fundamentally,
they’re all learnings
from other solutions combined.
– Like, the meeting I
recall still in my head
was the meeting with the other
founder, Michal Kicinski.
And like, I think we had
just like a one hour meeting,
which basically ended with
a very little sticky note
just saying classic titles, DRM-free,
low price point, super
easy buying experience.
That’s it, yeah?
And it’s like, I mean
it’s obvious in a way.
Why not?
(relaxing electronic music)
– [Danny] So what were the games then,
back then, that you targeted?
What were the companies
you tried to get on?
– It was super simple.
The goal was to bring at least
one big publisher on board
and to convince somebody
that we can go DRM-free.
And I remember meeting
absolutely everybody,
explaining how cool it is, and
I still remember this feeling
of us being small super
tiny guys nobody knew about.
And the only thing that helped was Marcin,
whom some of these guys knew
from the distribution side.
– I remember a lot of
frustration of a lot of people
who were basically like
knocking on all the doors
of all the developers
and publishers they knew.
And it wasn’t like, in a way,
like in the way, it was
more like sure guys,
that’s a bold idea I guess,
but we would like someone
to try this first before we’ll sign.
– We clearly understood that
our main competition is piracy.
Because these games were available on
so-called abandonware websites
or just some weird resources.
And we were thinking how
we need to convince gamers
to buy it from us, because
somehow they can get it for free.
And many of them would
consider that getting this
from this abandonware
websites would be legal.
So we thought the key, let’s add
as much bonus goodies as possible.
Let’s make sure it’s compatible with
modern operating systems, more
or less, as much as we can.
– [Danny] The team spent
months traveling to companies
trying to get the first one to sign.
In the end it was the connections
from those old days that came through.
In fact, it was the same
distribution partner
that had given CDP their
big break back in the ’90s.
The owners of Baldur’s Gate, Interplay.
– Actually, we managed
to convince Interplay
which was actually a
very good starting point
considering all of the classics they had,
especially Fallout 1, Fallout 2.
At that time, it was Interplay
and co-lease as well.
And then that’s how we started.
But it was quite a long process
and I think that we secured those titles.
We were very close to launching, really,
and we were still fighting, still visiting
all the studios trying to sign something.
But then it somehow magically happened.
Like I remember that
I think at some point,
it was maybe, I think it was Ubisoft,
I’m not 100% sure, they
came to us and said nice,
that’s cool stuff, let’s
release our titles here.
It was like, wow.
At that point, we kind
of got this feeling.
Okay, maybe we’re onto
something here, yeah?
– And there were really cool
people working at Ubisoft
who were also, like, crazy gamers.
And they totally supported us
and they said okay, let’s try it out.
So it was like a snowball effect.
So, the first partner joined
us and then it was easier.
We were able to come into
others saying, hey guys.
So Ubisoft is already
with us and we want to be
between the first ones, we
want to be the last one.
Nobody wants to be the last one,
nobody wants to be the first one.
So it was easier to convince
many companies afterwards.
– [Danny] If GOG thought
that getting permission to do
the work was going to
be the biggest hurdle,
then they were in for a shock.
Getting each game to the platform
would be its own unique challenge.
Before they had a chance
to find the source code,
before they tried to recreate the box art,
or program the game to work
on modern operating systems,
they would first have to
find out who owned it.
This work was done by GOG’s
business development team.
And more often than not, these
puzzles took years to solve.
(relaxing electronic music)
– I think it always starts
with the research on our side.
So we’re trying to understand who might
have the rights for this product nowadays.
So it’s simple, it’s just
going through different things
like movie games, I
don’t know, Wikipedias,
then talking to some
guys from the companies
that were developing this
game back to the time
or to producers of those
games, asking do you know
who might have the rights for it nowadays?
In easy cases, they
will just tell us okay,
the rights stayed definitely
with the publisher.
And then we just go to publisher
and tell them hey guys,
can you please push your
legal team or convince your
legal team to research
on this particular game
if you still have the
rights for it or not?
If we are lucky, the legal
team will find some time for us
and they will say yes guys, definitely.
Let’s add it to our existing agreement.
In other cases, the company might say yes,
we probably hold some
rights, but not all of them,
so we don’t want to bother.
And then you need to do
their homework for them.
So we need to go and check
who might have the rights for,
for example, for music, who
has the rights for the IP,
and usually the publisher still
holds the rights for the
code and I would say,
more or less, all these
derivative products
like box art, et cetera, et cetera.
These are the most complicated things.
– So when we talk about,
for example, big publishers,
they always have certain procedures
and there is a culture
within their organization,
which you are not aware of.
So the first thing you need to do
is to understand, what is this culture?
Are they money driven?
Are they a public company?
Or do they have any requirements
which they have to comply
due to whatever reasons?
When we tried to sign some older titles
and we learned something about like,
the company does no longer exist.
And you have to think
like, where do you trace?
Like, how do you get a game?
How do you get the game?
Because it’s usually in legal hell.
That’s how it’s a starting point.
Somebody used to own a company,
there were some partners,
the company breaks,
something happened with the right,
there was a publisher, what do we know?
What’s in the agreement between
the publisher and the developer?
So we have no idea which things were
licensed, purchased,
transferred, and then it starts.
You go to one meeting, another meeting,
learn a little piece of things.
Sometimes it’s light, sometimes it’s not.
Sometimes people just
remember things differently.
If there’s two partners, that’s
the most interesting case
because they usually have different
understanding of what
was in the agreement.
So until you get your hands
on the initial source,
which is whether the papers or the people
who actually created those documents,
you don’t really know
what’s the story there.
And we end up with
completely different stories.
Like, people hating each
other for some reason
because they couldn’t bear
to work together and then we
have to find, help them to
find peace between each other.
Or we learn that there is one
entity which owns the rights
for the IP and then there’s another entity
which owns the right for code.
And there is writing which
belongs to the third party
and they don’t even know each other.
And they have no idea
that they own the thing.
– [Danny] The team had wandered
in to a legal nightmare.
The games they were trying to re-release
were created in an era where
nobody was future proofing
these legal agreements,
during a time where the games
industry was a merry-go-round
of acquisitions and mergers.
This meant that oftentimes to
get a game released on GOG,
the team would embark
on years of negotiation.
– Lots of gamers were asking for
Star Wars games, especially old ones.
So this was one of our holy grails.
Something that we were
fighting for and that
when we managed to sign
it, we were super happy
because we were going
through a lot of iterations
together with Lucas and then
later on with Disney when we
were so close to signing it
and then management changes.
For about three months there is silence
and then we start from scratch.
So again, same pitch.
And you talk to new people.
They are like, what do you want from us?
Like, different people from
manager position to SVP level
at Lucas at that time and then
we were lucky enough to find,
again, some gamers at
Disney that helped us a lot.
– As you know, SWAT 4 is
published by Activision.
And for a long period of time,
it was challenging for us to understand,
where is the blockers for
us to get certain titles?
But everything changed the
moment we got a US team on board,
because now GOG has a European office
and we have a US office, which
is dealing with the business.
And our US business team
managed very quickly
to get a proper line of
communication with Activision
because they are both Americans.
And that’s a culture.
So we realized that all,
everything we were doing wrong,
was basically just not being
fully aware of the US culture.
Even though everybody knows
about US culture, right?
But even being international
and knowing like,
how things are going in
different parts of the world,
there were still blockers which can
break bridges being 10,000 miles away.
– Probably the most tough
one so far was getting the
rights for Gold Box titles
and old Warhammer titles.
Those ones were with SSI.
And SSI went through quite
a few mergers, acquisitions,
Mattel was a group then part of their,
their rights were bought
by Ubisoft with Myst games.
So we had to actually
talk with lots of people
involved in those deals
in order to understand
who actually holds the
rights for the codes
of these Gold Box titles like
Eye of the Beholder nowadays.
And then we found that
company and they have nothing
to do with the software
nowadays, you know?
And they were like, telling okay guys,
we might have somebody in our archives
where we put old things
we’ve acquired across
the last 20 years, but it’s
like a separate company.
They’re just archiving all these deals.
If you’ve managed to find
somebody interested there,
maybe we’ll be able to
make a deal with you.
Again, they didn’t want to
talk to us because like,
who are you, GOG, CD
Projekt, Polish company?
It’s a tough one.
So we had to ask our lawyers
who we were working with for help.
Because when they come
in with their big titles,
with the huge firms behind them,
at least these guys will talk to them.
– So I’m coming from Russia.
So initially when I came to GOG,
it was very important for
me that I can bring some
historical context from my
region where I come from,
some games which were developed in Russia
but were never released in English
territories or outside of Russia.
And it was interesting for me to find out
that a lot of the agreements
for all the titles
which I praised as a kid, nobody
actually signed any papers.
So there is just a buddy
agreement between people,
which we had to formalize
before we could sign,
have legal grounds to
release the games on GOG.
So you have to find these people
and some of them are living in Australia,
some of them are living back in Russia,
some of them in the States.
It’s a culture.
Again, we are going back to the point
of the culture where things are done
differently in different
parts of the world.
For example, in Japan there is a,
I know cases where publishers
are not signing any papers
with vendor providers because
everything in Japan is based
on the trust, that you have to trust
someone in order to do something.
And if you fail once, your
reputation is destroyed.
So because big publishers are
in position with the force,
they would not sign some
papers with vendor providers
just saying that we’ll trust you
and because of that, you’re
going to work with us.
And they do.
They pay them, they pay money
and they proceed to working like this.
– [Danny] The team used
their own favorite games
as a launch point for the service,
but they also took inspiration
from the wider gaming community,
hunting down the rights
for dozens of games
that were either lost
to time or incompatible
with modern operating systems.
Over the years this community
wishlist has expanded,
but the games at the top
are almost all projects
that GOG has been working
on getting for years.
Right now there are people
in the back trying to get
No One Lives Forever
and Dune II onto the–
– You will be surprised,
but we talked about
No One Lives Forever just a week ago.
It’s ongoing.
Like, oh I have this new
lead about this thing.
Really, we haven’t talked
about it for a year.
Great, so what do you know?
What do you know?
Let’s check what we have
in our archives about that.
Hmm, that’s a new development.
This guy two years ago told us that
we don’t have rights for this and this.
Maybe he was not 100% correct.
– [Danny] You guys are like detectives.
– That’s, yeah.
I think if I will get
fired one day from GOG,
I’m probably gonna go
and work as a detective.
– [Danny] The one game I
remember that kept coming up
on over and over again
was Homeworld: Cataclysm.
And it’s on the system now.
– Yes, it is.
– [Danny] And it has this
really interesting description
that says that it’s, we changed the name,
but it’s literally the same game.
– [Oleg] It’s exactly the same title.
– [Danny] Right, so I’m
guessing Blizzard somehow had–
– Because somebody has the rights
for Cataclysm trademark, right?
And so they are using it actively
in World of Warcraft, so.
– [Danny] Which is crazy,
considering I think
Homeworld: Cataclysm came
out like a decade before.
– [Oleg] Yes.
It’s just the matter that, again,
some companies prefer to protect
themselves better or protect their IPs.
I think they have
nothing against generally
using Homeworld: Cataclysm,
but if you’re going
through a legal team,
again, they’re not gamers.
They just need to make sure they protect
their company in the best possible way.
– [Danny] Black & White,
that’s locked up by Lionhead
or someone else probably has it, or?
– [Oleg] We’re still working on it.
It’s a very complicated
story because nobody
can actually explain who
has the right for it.
Because when you’re asking Microsoft
if they rights for it, they’re telling no.
And you’re asking
Lionhead, and they’re like,
they are part of Microsoft.
They’re also telling you no.
So maybe there are some
individuals that are involved
in this whole process, but still.
They don’t have all the rights,
they have only part of the rights.
Still, maybe one day.
– [Danny] What about
something a little bit more,
I don’t know, I didn’t realize if the
Westwood stuff was that hard to come by.
Dune II, for instance.
– That’s a, well with the rights again,
it’s super clear here.
So part of it was with Westwood,
so that’s an issue with
Electronic Arts nowadays.
But another part is with
the family, the IP rights.
– Right, Frank Herbert?
– Yes, yes.
And the problem is that I
am not sure the relationship
between these two
companies are good or bad.
I don’t know.
But apparently that’s what I’ve heard.
It’s really tough to find a
compromise between these two parties.
In the past, many companies
were not thinking about
getting perpetual rights, for example.
They were getting the rights
for one year, two years.
And then they were
thinking the game will die.
It’s nowadays, when the
game has a longer lifecycle.
At that time, okay, we are
using it for two years, done.
In many cases, there were crazy deals
with some actors, for example,
when we were paying them a
crazy amount of dollars per copy
thinking that they would be
selling the game only for $60.
And once you’re telling that,
guys, we want to sell it
for $10, nowadays they’re
like no, no, no, no, no.
The royalties we need to pay per copy
for this or that actor,
they’re already 20.
And like, what?
And then lots of deals were just
done for a few particular countries.
And this gets so complicated sometimes.
It’s just painful.
So some titles will never see the light,
unfortunately, because of this theme.
– [Danny] I can see a company
like Disney, for instance,
they would say we’re
signing away our games
and it’s not that big a market for us.
Like, Disney is a multi-billion
dollar company, right?
– Yes.
– So you’re not going to
sell it to them based
on the dollars, right?
– Purely on dollars, no.
But at the same time, they’re super happy
when something is
happening on the PR side.
Like I remember how happy they were
when we re-released Aladdin, Lion King.
And again, I cannot say that it
was like a super top seller for us.
No, it sold quite well.
But still, the main thing
was PR around these IPs.
And I know that’s, lots of people
at Disney were super happy.
Not even in the gaming
department, but general Disney.
– [Danny] And you’re also
doing a lot of work for them
in terms of actually getting
this stuff up, right?
That’s part of the deal.
– Yes, and then they can reuse it
and sell it to another platform,
which is another bonus that
they’re getting from us.
– [Danny] If the biz-dev team
managed to solve the legal
puzzle and if they managed
to get all parties on board
and acknowledge and agree
to the sale of the game,
then they’d pass the project
up to the products team.
You’d think it would be plain sailing
from this point, but
sadly, you’d be wrong.
Because often the people who
own the rights to these games
have absolutely no idea where the code is.
(relaxing atmospheric music)
– For oldies or for old games like
before year 2000,
it is extremely rare to get
a build from the developer.
We are not talking even
about the source code here,
we are talking about the actual game.
So yeah, I have the rights for it,
but I have absolutely
nothing for that game.
– [Danny] That’s crazy.
Like, not even like a copy
of it buried somewhere?
– [Marcin] Absolutely nothing.
So you have to do the research.
You need to find out what this game had,
you need to find the build,
you need to be sure that
you have all the goodies.
Because our community
was kind of unforgiving
for missing something important.
So yeah, you need to have that right.
If the game had an active community,
it was also a good practice
to contact that community.
Hey, we are working on
releasing this game on GOG.
Because a lot of times, there
was something they could do
to actually help us
because they were basically
living and breathing this game.
Often they have very,
very useful information,
as sometimes even they’d prepared
up an entire build for us.
So hey, this is a fixed game.
Just feel free to release it on GOG.
– Fixing Carmageddon, for example.
I know that community
was helping us a lot.
Developers were helping
us a lot trying to find
some pieces, bits and
pieces of the source code.
And then we all together
were working on this product
to make it available for gamers.
And then another one
was not Theme Hospital,
unfortunately, but Theme Parks.
That one was also broken despite the fact
that many people were telling, come on,
it will just work on their DOSBox.
Actually, it didn’t.
So we had to put, again, lots of efforts,
make some reverse engineering.
Ask some of our external
programmers to help on it.
No no no, trust me.
Actually a lot of external
guys who work for GOG,
and we use their help from time to time,
they are just hardcore gamers.
– The help from the community in
some of the releases was enormous.
As an example, I don’t
know, Wing Commander games.
There was a site, still
is, Wing Commander News.
So basically just a huge community of
Wing Commander fans that
was led by Ben Lesnick,
who is now working, I
think, on Star Citizen,
as one of the directors there even.
So he helped us a lot
because they have gathered
all the materials, all
the development documents,
and we have all of it,
all of it, all on GOG.
– [Danny] One piece of technology that
helped the product team
immensely was DOSBox.
DOSBox is a piece of software that
emulates DOS running on an IBM PC,
which allows modern operating systems
to run many older incompatible games.
The team uses this emulator as a
wrapper on a lot of their older games
and often works with
the creators of DOSBox
to solve particularly puzzling problems.
– On GOG, we’ve been dealing with
those games since the day one.
So we kind of know the drill here.
And DOS issues are usually
related to DOSBox configuration
and they can be solved by that.
There were some cases that
were much more complicated.
Like for example, Harvester,
or it was Theme Park.
Other times we had problems like,
for example, it was Realms of Arkania 3,
in which the last boss couldn’t be beaten.
Like really.
The entire game works, then
you go to the last boss.
And you have the last
boss, his posse here,
and you are killing everyone.
But there is just this
one guy at the bottom
of the screen that just stands there.
You can’t interact with him.
He’s just there.
You can’t kill him.
And basically the game includes
them in the winning condition.
So if he is there, you are
unable to win the game.
And we were like, trying to
fix it for so many hours.
Yeah, so it turned out that there was
a small problem with the memory
allocation that we found,
that basically our game, when
it was checking for the NPCs,
it should spawn in that
particular scenario,
it was adding one more.
Also, a lot of times it’s
this kind of lights out game.
So for example, you are fixing one issue
and two more pop up
and so on and so forth.
Like for example, which game was it?
Carmageddon 1.
But for Carmageddon 1, we had like 60,
over 60 builds prepared for that game.
Each build fixed something
and broke another thing.
And it happened for us 60 times.
The games that are really tricky to fix
are the games that are DirectX
games, but before DirectX 9.
Those are very complicated.
Shadows of the Empire.
When we got the game,
we couldn’t even run it.
Like really, we tried everything.
It was crushing.
It was a disaster.
Like even if we got it to run,
there was all kind of
graphical artifacts there.
It was, it looked like a hopeless case.
What we ended up doing is actually
we’ve re-written our
entire DirectX wrapper.
So basically we’ve translated
everything the game’s engine
is doing through a wrapper to DirectX 9.
It was painful, it took a lot of time.
But the end effect was awesome.
The game works and it works very,
very good on all the systems right now.
– [Danny] One key job for the
product team is pulling out
whatever DRM may have been
included in the original game.
For more modern games, this
is often some sort of online
authentication software built
into the code of the game.
But DRM existed before games were
even connected to the internet.
This was often in the form of CD keys,
code wheels, or even just by asking you
to type in a particular
word in the user manual.
– There are different forms of DRM.
We are dealing with each one differently.
When we get the build from the developer
that is not DRM-free, it
happens from time to time,
we usually ask the developer
for a DRM-free build.
So okay, there is still
something left here
because our QA found it, could you please?
But a lot of times we don’t have time.
So we have a team that is able to do it.
So then we are just informing
developers that yeah,
we got the build, that there
was a part of the DRM here.
We removed it by doing
this and this and that.
And yeah, if you are fine with that, just.
And a lot of times, this is just
yeah, yeah, go ahead, it’s fine.
– [Danny] I remember like,
there’s a lot of games that came
out in the ’90s that used
like, physical forms of DRM.
– Yeah, the code books are very popular.
So just
put a word, the second word
from the 28th page there.
That was the common DRM thing.
But you were removing it
from the games in most cases.
Some had more elaborate
ones like, for example,
there was a spinning wheel
in which you have to match
specific things in order to get the
correct answer to put
actually in the game.
And it was so cleverly tied to the game
that we actually left that in.
Because it was not just a
question out of nowhere,
that was actually the part of the game.
Yeah, we are fixing those games.
We are making sure that they work
and that they are viable
for the future generation.
We are gathering all the goodies
that are associated with those games,
counting all the manuals and
all the language versions
and all the design documents we can find
and we’re basically preserving it.
– [Danny] Yeah, do you have someone
who just scans manuals into PDFs or?
– This is always the task of the new guy.
– [Danny] Once the product
team had found the codes,
torn out all the DRM, fixed the bugs,
scanned all the manuals, and
collected all the goodies
they could find, the game is
finally ready to be released.
But each of these games is still
part of the product team’s responsibility.
This team is responsible for
ensuring that all the games
work on as many operating
systems as possible.
And that includes new ones.
– When Windows 10 came
out, we literally launched
all of the games we have on GOG
to make sure that they work on the system.
And if they didn’t, we
tried to fix them well.
It took a lot of time.
Yeah, but I’m proud to say
that we’ve managed to do it.
There is like a small
percentage of the game
that doesn’t work on Windows 10.
However, we did not
forget about those games
and eventually I am
sure they will be fixed.
And if there will be a
Windows 11 or whatever,
we will do the same thing.
(relaxing electronic music)
– [Danny] GOG originally
stood for Good Old Games,
but the initialism has been
dropped in recent years
as the mission of the
service has expanded.
In March of 2012, GOG opened
their doors to new games,
focusing on getting
DRM-free versions of AAA
and indie titles onto their store.
Right away, the indies were into it.
For many of them,
getting their game on GOG
was seen as a mark of approval
because the service was curated.
That means that unlike
other digital marketplaces,
each game released on the platform
had to be approved by GOG.
But convincing major
publishers to put AAA titles
on a store DRM-free has
continued to be difficult.
– Let’s say they always, always release
the games with DRMs for example, right?
And suddenly there are some
guys coming saying hey guys,
don’t worry, just switch
to DRM-free, right?
I mean, surely in your head like,
there is some kind of like a warning sign.
And what if they are
going to be pirated, yeah?
And it’s very easy to kind of
get into this, like, thinking.
And if you would make
this kind of a change,
let’s say suddenly start
releasing games DRM-free,
you probably would need
to now have some kind of
approval from this
director, that director,
then there is a legal team involved,
and then the guys will tell
you no, hell no, no way.
Just don’t do this, guys.
You will have a ton of problems.
I think even if there
is one or two guys there
that we talk to who say
yes, we totally understand
what you guys are doing,
but please understand us.
We’re working in a very complex company
with a ton of different stakeholders.
We have to convince a lot of people.
You can throw at me, like, from the side
of devil’s advocate perspective,
you can say look, those
three, five, 10, whatever,
super big franchises, they all have DRM.
Did they sell well?
Yes, they did.
So why should we ditch it?
We’re trying to make, like slowly,
like water erodes the rock.
Just say hey, but look.
Witcher 3 launched without DRMs
and it sold a lot of copies, right?
So you can do it.
And they say hmm, maybe.
I guess we need more and
more cases like that, yeah?
– Is it hard?
Yes, it got definitely harder.
That’s why we don’t have so
many day one AAA releases.
Because as I told you, the publishers
and developers are still scared of this.
And sometimes it’s just
probably a matter of
people getting used to
certain approaches in business
and it takes some time
to change your approach,
once you see that it’s not that bad.
We had a very nice test
case with The Witcher 3,
that was a recent day one DRM-free on GOG.
Nothing happened, the game still sells.
I’ve heard it sells quite well
and I think outsells many
games that were released with
DRM even though some of these
were bigger at the time.
Still, can we convince everybody
with just this example?
Unfortunately not.
We still have a fight that is happening
all the time trying to explain, showcase,
bring different numbers, graphs,
quotes, studies, but it just takes time.
I really believe that one day
we’ll manage to break through it,
especially with the support of
our community, which is very vocal.
Very vocal.
And we appreciate their support.
– [Danny] As GOG took on
more newer release games,
the demands of their audience
and publishing partners
started to have an effect on the product.
They realized the developers
wanted to be able to
add updates themselves.
And that, with new games being
patched so often nowadays,
players wanted to have the ability
to auto-update their titles.
So they created a new
front end, GOG Galaxy,
which provides one click installation,
access to community features,
all with the same control
over the DRM-free installations as before.
The work to create this
complex networked software
accidentally created an opportunity
for GOG and CD Projekt Red to collaborate.
While these two companies share a building
and eat at the same cafeteria,
they work independently of each other.
That was until the
developers across the hall
decided to make a competitive card game.
– So then you fast forward,
Gwent became a big success
inside The Witcher.
And the decision was made to,
hey, let’s actually make it a game,
which is quite more impressive
than the Gwent in Witcher 3 ever was.
And I guess someone just thought okay,
so we have those guys at
GOG, they are like having,
they run 1000 or so servers, probably do,
so they probably know some
stuff about networking, right?
We know stuff about developing games,
so why don’t we really
work together, yeah?
So it was kind of like an obvious match,
perfect match made in heaven.
I mean, Gwent is kind
of a separate project.
I mean, like we have GOG running as GOG
and the team working on Gwent,
where secrets have to be separate.
I guess if this will work well,
and so far it works really great,
we are very, like, happy with
the feedback we get from Gwent
and with the numbers of people playing.
So I guess we’ll be trying to
reapply this maybe in future games,
probably that could be one way to do it.
Definitely working on GOG Galaxy,
this is another thing that’s
very, very important to us.
I know we still have a
lot of catching up to do.
And of course, the release of games.
This is a never-ending chase.
The games which were day ones a couple
of years ago will soon be classics.
No, no, we’re very passionate in
knowing the stuff that we’re doing.
We love games and our goal is to release
as many DRM-free titles,
quality ones, as we can.
And this is what we are
going to push forward.
– [Danny] Since its
founding, GOG has had an
immeasurable effect on the gaming world.
Not only are they responsible for bringing
hundreds of games back from the dead,
but their mission to encourage developers
to drop DRM in favor of more
consumer-friendly practices
has been an important
counter-argument in an industry
that so often tries to take
advantage of its consumers.
This team has managed to change perception
of DRM as the only answer to piracy,
all stemming from the lessons they learned
growing up in modern Polish society.
If they could do that, I had
to wonder if it was possible
for them to tear down other
seemingly insurmountable walls.
From my layman’s perspective,
the architecture of consoles
has become more and more closer to PC.
So it doesn’t seem to be
an architecture problem
so much as it is a, I don’t know,
legal, licensing, whatever problem.
Can you imagine a future in
which they’d allow, like.
– Those games to be ported?
– Yeah, onto that console.
– On PC?
I would love to have
first PS, PSX games, PS1.
Oh yeah.
I think it might be
possible at some point.
However, from what we have been able
to gather because we did the research,
it might be very, very complicated.
Because how the rights
are structured, they’re,
I wouldn’t say that this is impossible
and I would certainly love to have
some of the console games on GOG.
Because we would be
able to make them work.
– [Danny] And how about–
– Maybe we’ve already tried.
(relaxing electronic music)
– Okay, so I am Piotr, or Peter,
and I am the support team leader.
I know that your favorite game is SWAT 4,
because I asked, I heard
from one of the guys.
So the most common problem with SWAT 4,
if you can call it a problem,
is people not being able
to play multiplayer.
Multiplayer works fine,
but it’s direct IP based.
You don’t have your server browser
or like matchmaking people,
stuff people are used to.
So you need to either use
some tunneling software
to do this the easy way and find your mate
or do some like port forwarding,
some stuff people are not accustomed to.
– [Danny] Like go to like–
– If they’re not our age, I suppose.
– [Danny] Like opening command prompt
and putting in, like,
IP config to find out
your IP and all that sort of stuff?
– Yeah yeah yeah, and going
to your router settings
to make sure that the ports used by SWAT 4
is actually mapped to your
local IP in your network.
Working at GOG in general,
helping people, yes.
It’s kind of who I am.
That’s why I main support classes.
– [Danny] Perfect.
– It is kind of who I am, I suppose.
– But it still does affect,
we have quite a lot of,
since the GOG Galaxy launched,
I mean I cannot tell you numbers.
I would love to, but I cannot.
It’s really impressive, like
if you see how many people
are logged in at any
point into GOG Galaxy,
it’s like really, really impressive.
– [Danny] Oh yeah, that must
be a fun number to see as well.
Like, just to be able to like, know that–
– I have it here, but I
cannot show it still, sorry.
– [Danny] We should set
up a mirror next time.
(keyboard keys clicking)


  1. We hope you enjoy this dive into the work that GOG goes through to resurrect old games. This was another project that was requested by a large contingent of our community last year so we're delighted we managed to get it out. So in keeping with that spirit we'd love to know what games you'd like us to cover next? We have projects in the works already but always love hearing what you'd like us to cover. Good old games, or new!

  2. GoG and CD Projekt Red are the two sides of the same coin in my opinion!
    They both are pro consumer and pro gamer and money is not their first and only priority!

  3. I love these guys! Wish I could buy all my games from GoG, I'll always buy from them if the game is available. Keep it up guys, you are a bright light in these dark days of the Northmen

  4. Make the customer WANT to pay you… Imagine that, [Other AAA Game Developers]. Also, it's crazy devotion that they go through all that trouble finding owners of games that don't even know they own said game, just to make sure they are on the up and up when they put it up for sale. That's just the epitome of excellence.

  5. i really think GOG is doing mankind justice for preserving these old video game titles, you all know if the games aren't available they will be forgotten and lost, and that's really sad. Preservation is so necessary… i hope they can expand to consoles also and other platforms.

  6. Holyshit! The amount of work this fine people at CD Projket have done is just incredible and deserves every bit of praise. I mean I can't even imagine any other company going through all this Hassel just to provide gamers their fav games from childhood without DRM and at reasonable price. Just unbelievable work! ?

    This documentary made me love this people even more. So thanks a lot +NoClip for making this. ???

  7. I love these guys. They do such great work. I beleive it's really important to support them. Slowly, some poeple in the industry are beginning to understand that it's just good business to reward, not antagonise your paying customers. We know we can get games illegally, for free. And we know those illegal copies have no DRM. So they are just less hassle. But many of us actually want to do the right thing, and buy the game legally. And with GOG, you can do that, and get all of the extras, none of the DRM hassle, and it's usually fixed to work on modern systems. It just feels good to support the industry and work the guys at GOG are doing.
    Hopefully the developers and publishers will eventually see the benefit. Stop punishing and antagonising your paying customers out of fear that they may steal your product. We know we can steal it, and we still choose to buy it. So accept that, trust us, respect us and reward us with a pleasant and easy experience.
    There will always be those who won't pay, but DRM has never stopped them, and it never will. It only serves to antagonise your loyal, paying customers, which makes no business sense at all. GOG gets that. Hopefuly, in time, the rest of the industry will too. In many ways, GOG and the gaming community actually value and respect the older games and their preservation more than their actual owners and publishers do. It is an honor and pleasure to support GOG and the work they do, in any way we can.

  8. Boldur's Geish? I know Baldur's Gate, but I suppose the narrator meant something else. Seriously though, I enjoy these series a lot, but they deserve someone who speaks correctly. "One of the most unforgiving market on the planesh" yeah, right XD

  9. Simcity 4 was my first game ever and my childhood game the CD no longer works due to windows 10. I bought in on steam … and the unofficial launcher doesn't work … Which is essential for autosaving (simscity 4 crashes to desktop every 30 minutes or less if you don't save). Saw on a wiki that GOG had a drm free version and it worked … and it never crashed once … I had a better experience with GOG then I did the original product

  10. I intend to buy whatever cool box they sell with cyberpunk2077 so I hope the activation key is for GOG

  11. It's admirable all the hard work the troopers at GOG go through to give us our nostalgia trip, and more. Thanks for showing us Noclip. Awesome stuff!

  12. Hearing some of these interviews and how much work they putting into not only obtaining licensing and source files but re-coding the games to work, I have to wonder how much money they're constantly bleeding for this labor of love.

  13. arrrr….too good.

  14. Holy shit, you can play shadows of the empire on PC? Fuck it, I'm going to go buy it, I played it on my n64 (was my first game along with mario)… So many fond memories

  15. There is special place in my heart for CDPR and GOG. I am so love them, cant describe it by words. Fuck EA Activison Blizzard Ubisoft! Fuck them with their overpriced shit, microtransactions, and raw quality games. Even if i wanna play their product, i am always download it from internet and more often i just delete this shit(for example AC3 remaster, Andromeda, etc.) It's rare when they do something good and i have a wish to buy it. BUT I AM ALWAYS!!! YOU HEAR???? ALWAYS!!! Give all my money for everything what do this crazy polish guy's!!! SOOOOOO MUCHHH LOVEEE!!! And thank you noclip for this amazing work! It's deserve more views!

  16. Found this when looking for modern game recommendations. It didn't matter that I didn't find what I was looking for.

  17. Armake21 was buying like….ALL the PC games and couldn't access many because of DRM but he grabbed a pirated version in like 2 minutes. Ridiculous. Was talking about F.E.A.R. which I grabbed on GOG.

  18. It feels like making The Witcher was just not enough to make a history, so they also decided to preserve it. And this, is something I can always get behind. I really like their politics about DRM-free and piracy, and they are right. Piracy is still blossoming in Ukraine and Russia, since we had the same story here as the Poland did, and it warms my heart to know, that they are fighting piracy in the best way possible. They don't force us waste our money, they inspire it, which is always welcome

  19. i've stolen a few game buts i've also bought those games before and then they got taken away from me because a service went offline. Got to play Settlers again and it is awesome. Once i got more money i paid my dues.

  20. To me, personally, CD Projekt is the literal GEM in PC gaming industry. I've been with them almost since the beginning. Love their works!

  21. Que matéria linda sobre a empresa gog, tem muito por traz do que aparece ne um site apenas bonito equipe dedicada enorme trabalhando pra resgatar clássicos do passo =D (ADORO ESSA EMPRESA NA MORAL)

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