This Sunday, GOG.com disappeared, replaced with a vague message from its creators about the website's closure. It read, in part, that "GOG.com simply cannot remain in its current form." People were understandably upset. Good Old Games are a digital distributor of old, DRM-free games, and a well-respected company. People were sad to see them close down.
But it turned out they weren't closing. Tomorrow, the site will re-launch, out of beta with some new features and some new games, but fundamentally unchanged. The closure was a hoax. After days of growing backlash as rumours spread and gamers were understandably unhappy at being fooled, we asked Good Old Games why they decided to re-launch the site in this way. Their statement is included in full below.
"First of all we'd like to apologize to everyone who felt deceived or harmed in any way by the closedown of GOG.com. As a small company we don't have a huge marketing budget and this why we could not miss a chance to generate some buzz around an event as big as launching a brand new version of our website and even more important, bringing back Baldur's Gate to life!
We believe this title was extremely expected by all our users and PC gamers in general. It would have made no sense to announce it in a typical plain corporate way. Our aim at GOG is to promote the greatest DRM-free PC classics ever in a creative way and allow people to escape from the usual boring mainstream marketing. We are also gamers and this is why we played a bit with this announcement.
Once again, we apologize for any harm we might have caused and we do hope people will keep the essence of our message in mind: GOG is doing things differently than elsewhere and yes, Baldur's Gate is finally back (with more great releases to come)! We are working hard to provide users with much fun, so do expect some great surprises until Christmas."
I think the people at GOG seriously misjudged this whole affair. While it was done in a spirit of fun, and with the intention of surprising their audience with the relaunch, they underestimated how much concern and sadness people would feel at its closure, and how much anger they would feel when they discovered it was a stunt. It was a naïve decision, but one made by people who care about gamers and do a lot of great things for PC gaming.
We'll have a full interview with GOG's founders tomorrow, in which they talk about their struggles with piracy, DRM and their holy mission to improve PC gaming.