JULY 24, 2014 • Although Good Old Games had targeted the fall for the launch of its service on Linux, the digital distribution arm of CD Projekt introduced its wares early after successful trials. The only penalty in launching early was the availability of 50 titles instead of the 100 games promised for fall. GOG.com is directly supporting two of the most popular versions of Linux, Ubuntu and Mint, and is providing distro-independent tar.gz archives for other versions of Linux. Titles available for Linux include Blake Stone: Aliens of Gold, Duke Nukem 3D: Atomic Edition, Flatout, Fragile Allegiance, Pirates! Gold Plus, Rise of the Triad: Dark War, Sid Meier’s Colonization, and Sword of the Samurai. Most older titles are available DRM-free for under $3 each. GOG plans on adding another 50 titles by the end of the year.
Impact: Between Steam and now Great Old Games, Linux is becoming a much friendlier place for PC games. Unlike Steam, which is building its own version of Linux to distribute its titles, GOG is targeting two of the most consumer-friendly distributions of Linux. Ubuntu has been ranked highly for years, and the even more accessible Mint is based on Ubuntu. Both distributions get regular easy updates and are very reliable desktop environments. People running less well known distributions will have the skills to easily set up GOG’s titles on their systems, and likely already have Ubuntu available as a boot option. We have liked GOG’s model for a long time. The games industry has traditionally found it difficult to market its vast catalog of content as PC hardware standards left old games behind. GOG updates these titles so that they will run on state-of-the-art systems and makes them available for minor price points. What Sony Computer Entertainment is doing with legacy titles on the PlayStation Network and PS Now is pretty much the same model as GOG pioneered. Now is an opportune moment for GOG to launch on Linux. With Microsoft Corp. cutting off security support for Windows XP systems, many owners have shifted to lean versions of Mint to run their netbooks or old PCs. The Open Source community has plenty of excellent applications available for free so making the switch to Linux on an older system is very easy. Linux remains a rounding error in game revenue, but in GOG’s case content overhead is minor. If anyone can make money on Linux games, it will be GOG.