Why GOG Galaxy Is Worth Trying Out, Even If You Use Steam

Why GOG Galaxy Is Worth Trying Out, Even if You Use Steam

Last week, gaming deal site GOG released its Galaxy library app. PC users have had Steam for a long time, but GOG wants Galaxy to improve the status quo. Here's why it's worth adding to your repertoire.

GOG Fixes a Lot of Steam's Problems

Why GOG Galaxy Is Worth Trying Out, Even if You Use Steam

GOG isn't being shy about distinguishing itself from Steam. In the past, when you bought a PC game, you had a copy on your local machine that you could install as many times as you wanted, on as many machines as you wanted, forever. As you might expect from service that used to be called Good Old Games, GOG aims to get back to that.

Any game you buy from GOG comes completely DRM-free. You can download it as often as you want from GOG's servers, but you can also download backup copies of the installer for a game. You'll never need to register with the service in order to install them. The games also work completely offline. While Steam's offline mode has improved over time, GOG doesn't bother with an online requirement at all.

All things considered, Steam has done a better job than most of finding a middle-ground between publishers who demand DRM and gamers who hate it. You can't please everyone, though, and nothing beats DRM-free. While publishers on Steam can forego DRM if they choose, when you're buying games through GOG, you know what you're getting.

GOG Lets You Play Games with Steam Users

Why GOG Galaxy Is Worth Trying Out, Even if You Use Steam

Steam isn't just a game store. It's also the biggest community of PC gamers in the world. As console gamers can tell you, choosing who you play with based on where they bought their games sucks. It's the kind of conflict people go to war over. GOG hopes to avoid this type of conflict by allowing their users to play online with Steam players.

What this means is that if you use GOG to buy or download a game, and your friend uses Steam, you can play with each other online. GOG describes this feature as being available on "Crossplay-enabled" games, so it's unclear just how many titles will support the feature.

Even without crossplay, GOG already has its own system of in-game achievements, friends lists, online chat and game stats. That means buying from a non-Steam source doesn't mean complete isolation, or missing out on any of the extra features gamers usually enjoy. Perhaps most importantly, you can also turn all of these social features off entirely. With Steam, you can enter offline mode, but even if you mark your chat profile as offline, you'll probably notice you're back online again before too long.

You Can Occasionally Find Deals You Won't Get on Steam

Why GOG Galaxy Is Worth Trying Out, Even if You Use Steam

It's no secret that Steam isn't the only source of deals online. In fact, we found that Amazon and GOG were among the best. However, GOG doesn't offer Steam keys, which means you would have to play the game without Steam's community and extra features.

Now, however, as we mentioned above, you can play those games online with Steam users, or get a comparable experience in GOG Galaxy. That means you have one more store with great sales you can buy from, while still getting a Steam-like experience.

Steam Finally Has Some Legitimate Competition

Why GOG Galaxy Is Worth Trying Out, Even if You Use Steam

One of the biggest advantages console gamers have is that there is competition between Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo. Each one spurs the other not just to make better games, but to make a better platform. Valve, on the other hand, has virtually no competition. If the company does something that users don't like, their only real recourse is protesting until they stop. If there's some feature you want that Valve isn't implementing, tough.

GOG is the closest we have right now to a complete Valve alternative. It's not there yet. There are still a lot of games missing, and there are features that still need to be built. However, if you want DRM-free games, backup copies you can download yourself, or the ability to turn off social features entirely, GOG can provide what you want.

The best part is, GOG is making headway. Just today, GOG announced that it would be adding several new big-name games including Darksiders I & II, Saints Row 2 & 3 and Metro: Last Light to its DRM-free library. It may not be to the level of Skyrim or Mass Effect, but publishers are noticing.

Over the long-term, GOG may be able to nudge Steam to improve its own experience and provide features that their customers have been wanting. Even if you're happy with Steam, or don't want games from GOG's library, having a second horse in this race can make the PC gaming industry better for everyone.


Comments

    I feel like I might set up a account to support them, but I doubt I will use it very much. Steam does need some quality competition and with the money harvesting publishers making their own rubbish drm, I think GOG are the only team who can do it.

    It's pretty good. Still in beta so it's still fairly thin in features, but what's there is good - I particularly like the ability to roll back patches.

    They need to fix the friends list. Currently you can only add friends who have made some sort of post on the forums or something that will show their avatar. You can't add people by email or username right now, which is just plain stupid.

    I've only used it to pre-download The Witcher 3. I suppose if I get another big game from GoG I'll use Galaxy

    I've got Galaxy installed. It won't let me pre-download witcher 3. Its still wanting me to download it manually in several files.

    GOG isn’t being shy about distinguishing itself from Steam. In the past, when you bought a PC game, you had a copy on your local machine that you could install as many times as you wanted, on as many machines as you wanted, forever.

    I remember those days! Back then, there was this DRM service called Currency. Back then, games were exchanged using Currency and if everything was the right amount and was authenticated I got a copy of the game in good faith that I would adhere to the EULA in the box.

    Never could understand why that system was shut down. It had its faults but it still got the job done.

    Jokes aside, I'm liking where Galaxy is going. As well as being optional, even the features of the client are options.

    Though I will admit, even for a beta there are some headaches. I've tried both the Win and Mac version (I don't pick a platform like console diehards nor PC pseudo-elitists) and the Mac version seems half baked by comparison.

    For one, I keep the games on an external Thunderbolt drive, and I have to run the import command to remind the client where the games are.

    Last edited 13/05/15 3:05 pm

    Well, I have (and powerfully resent) Origin for ME3 and their semi-regular free oldschool games. Kind of frustrated by their attempt to form a social system, though.

    GoG's got the right idea here, the one that Google either didn't or couldn't tackle with Facebook. Social networks? It's not enough to be better, it's also got to drag all your friends along. Because the network IS your contacts. There's no point to moving if not everyone does.

    Integration with Steam friends? Smart.

      Yeah, I wouldn't use Origin if I didn't have to for Mass Effect, Dragon Age and any modern Sim* game (SimCity, The Sims, etc). Fortunately Cities Skylines removes the need for SimCity at least.

    I'm going to use GoG Galaxy for as much as I possibly can going forwards. Sadly they don't tend to get many big new releases, but I hope this is going to change soon. I really appreciate the lack of DRM.

    Some other notes:
    -Charges Australians in AUD not USD.
    -(big one) If you pay more for a game than it costs in the US, the difference is credited to your account. So if I buy Witcher 3 from GoG Galaxy, there's still Australia Tax, but I get $11 of store credit (enough for many great old games) which really softens the blow.

    Last edited 13/05/15 3:32 pm

      I love this idea. Just looking through a few old games I can spend my $11 on.

    if you use GOG to buy or download a game, and your friend uses Steam, you can play with each other online
    Am I missing something here? I've been able to do that with every game I've tried, from both sides of the fence.

    Happen to forget Origin? The worlds biggest publisher is behind it and they do a lot of good things as well. I wouldn't say they're in Steam's arena, but they have a solid platform. And their "On the House" program has already gifted me a few cool games.

      EA hasn't been the biggest publisher for a few years now. Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo all trump it currently thanks to current generation consoles, as does Activision Blizzard. On the House is nice, GOG does something similar too.

      What I dislike about Origin is that it doesn't aim to create a social hub/platform to unify PC gamers.
      It does the opposite in fact. Imagine if every publisher decided to make their own version of this.

      They only allow their games on origin, and don't sell them elsewhere. It's a step backwards in my opinion.

      Steam is currently the closest service for PC gamers that is similar to say xbox live or PSN. It's not quite there yet, but they're trying and they've come a long way.

    Everything is in Australian Dollars. Hooray!

    WOW, looks like they've already added Hockey F U australia tax on. On other sites, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Pre-Order GOG Key - $43 AUD

      Thats not the ausTax thats the Australian distributor forcing them to sell it at that price.

      Still they know it is bullshit and give you voucher to buy a few other games "on the house" to make up for it

      What site is that? The cheapest one I can see (DLGamer) sells for US$43 (A$53).

      Australian retail price is $90, discounted to $72 if you own the other Witcher games and you get $11 credit with GOG from their fair price package, so you're effectively only paying $61, which seems pretty reasonable for a AAA title direct from the developer.

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