GOG.com bringing Linux support is a great thing
Article posted 13/04/2014
Unless you have been living in a cave for the last few weeks, you would have heard about GOG.com (formally known as Good Old Games) finally announcing they will be adding Linux support! I think this is a great thing and here's 5 good reasons why.
Now okay, technically, they are (at least initially) aiming to support only the Ubuntu and Linux Mint distributions. But this is probably more than fair enough, especially for a company dipping their toes into providing support for the Linux platform for the first time.
For some, GOG.com's promised Linux support is probably seen as too little, too late. Many Linux users (including yours truly) started to feel somewhat disenchanted with GOG.com's attitude towards supporting (or lack thereof) Linux.
Still, I think it's a great thing that GOG.com has finally come around and announced Linux support. Here's why...
All of GOG.com's games are free of DRM (Digital Rights Management) and it's something they are proud of. It's no secret that many Linux users really dislike any form of DRM, which makes sense as these users generally really appreciate the various freedoms that using a Linux operating system provides.
As such GOG.com may be a very nice option for these Linux gamers, especially as some Linux gamers actually completely avoid Valve's Steam because of DRM.
2. A popular games distributor other than Valve's Steam
While they may be known (or were known) as "Good Old Games", it's not like the entire games library is full of blurry low resolution, 90's style offerings. While they may not be the very latest and greatest AAA games, GOG.com does carry a very nice library of games from the aforementioned old classic games, all the way to games that may well be only a couple of years old (sometimes even newer... see reason #3 below).
So while not a direct competitor to Steam, it's still a good thing to have another popular games distributor other than Valve's offering. Choice is good.
3. The Witcher
Something that some people may not be aware of, is that GOG.com is actually owned by CD Projekt S.A. That's right, the Polish video game publisher and developer who created The Witcher video game series!
As such, The Witcher games (currently The Witcher 1 and 2) can be found on GOG.com and there have been signs that the games are coming to Linux. Well, at least The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings, which has been downloadable for Linux users through Steam for a few weeks now, albeit not yet playable as it seems to be in a closed beta.
However, if Linux users are getting The Witcher 2, it makes sense they would then likely be getting The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, CD Projekt's next upcoming title in the series. If all this truly comes off and The Witcher series comes to the land of penguins, it will be a massive bonus as a result of GOG.com's Linux support.
4. A sign of things to come
For some time now, GOG.com has been bugged by users to add Linux support to their catalog. Yet, GOG.com constantly rejected the idea, often citing reasons such as the sheer amount of Linux distributions as being a big road block, seeing as (in GOG.com's view) the sheer number of Linux distros and all the little differences meant they couldn't provide the same kind of support and help that they do for the other major platforms. Whether it be an excuse or a legitimate concern for GOG.com, it's not the first time we've seen this kind of reasoning in regards to not supporting the Linux platform.
All of a sudden though, GOG.com's recent announcement of Linux support shows somewhat of a backflip on this reasoning. Now, sure, officially the support is only for Ubuntu and Linux Mint, but that is kind of my point. Rather than attempt to provide official support for all Linux distributions, it seems GOG.com has adopted a similar stance to Valve with the Steam platform.
Steam provides official support for Ubuntu 12.04 and up, but doesn't lock out users of other distros. Thanks to the Steam Linux Runtime, games developed with Ubuntu as the target distribution will, in most cases, work just fine on other distros as well. And of course, the individual developers of the various games on Steam can offer support for other Linux distros if they so choose (just have a look at the System Requirements sections of different Linux-compatible games on Steam, you'll see what I mean), but the bare minimum target platform is Ubuntu 12.04 and later.
Going on GOG.com's Linux announcement, it appears they are thinking to do something similar. Now, this does mean that if you don't use Ubuntu or Linux Mint, you'll likely not receive any official support or access to the 30 day Money Back Guarentee, but at least the games will be Linux-compatible and more than likely to run. If they don't run, at least there's always the Linux community itself, who'll always have someone offering a workaround or solution to get your game running, which is again something we have seen with games on the Steam platform.
If even GOG.com can change their minds after such time (perhaps because of Valve's Linux work so far), perhaps others too will follow.
5. Classic games... lots!
This one is probably a pretty obvious point. GOG.com has many, many classic games. From the most beloved golden oldies to perhaps some of the more obscure games of your childhood, you'll likely find it on GOG.com. The list is quite incredible and you may very well get lost in nostalgia.
Now a lot of these games run in DOSBox or WINE, so technically you could play a lot of these games from GOG.com already on your Linux box, using a bit of know-how. But having officially supported titles for Linux from GOG.com, already prepared and ready to play right after the download, would be a very nice thing indeed and gives access to these titles for those less technical users and/or those who simply don't want to mess around just to play.
What do you think about the upcoming Linux support from GOG.com? Let us know in the comments below!