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Mnemon: Valve played this smart from early on. Offering a DRM package appealed to publishers (and developers) - developing a solid netcode API and similar features with Steam draws in developers more closely.
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shmerl: Lock-in can be called smart, [snip].
Smart from Steam's perspective. Not necessarily in the interest of fairness or the customer - but that's the whole case we've been arguing consistently. What makes sense to you, as a customer, and seems rational isn't, necessary, what's sensible / rational from a business / development perspective.

[Which is, by the way, why I feel government and regulation is important for a democratic society, but alas - GOG.com forums don't like politics, so let's not go any further down that route :).]

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shmerl: If developers cared, they could come up with network code that can be shared while not being tied to any Steam and the like.
They might care, but likely don't have the time nor the financial reserves to fund that work - nor to co-ordinate it all. It is NOT easy, not least on legal terms, to share these things across businesses that compete against each other. Publishers may have more of an interest in creating something similar, but even then I doubt they'd share that willingly with any outside company. Steam has an interest as their financial benefit isn't directly a licensing fee, but that they gain a larger market share and more sales out of the whole concept.
Post edited September 03, 2013 by Mnemon
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Mnemon: Smart from Steam's perspective. Not necessarily in the interest of fairness or the customer - but that's the whole case we've been arguing consistently. What makes sense to you, as a customer, and seems rational isn't, necessary, what's sensible / rational from a business / development perspective.
I consider an intentional lock-in to be a despicable practice from the business perspective. Companies who do that don't deserve respect. I mean this kind of thing: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criticism_of_Microsoft#Vendor_lock-in
Post edited September 03, 2013 by shmerl
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Mnemon: Smart from Steam's perspective. Not necessarily in the interest of fairness or the customer - but that's the whole case we've been arguing consistently. What makes sense to you, as a customer, and seems rational isn't, necessary, what's sensible / rational from a business / development perspective.
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shmerl: I consider an intentional lock-in to be a despicable practice from the business perspective. Companies who do that don't deserve respect. I mean this kind of thing: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criticism_of_Microsoft#Vendor_lock-in
This "lock-in" has two sides, one hand a vendor controled platform satisfy the need of the developers for a adressable platform... on the other hand the developers are then in the hand of this vendor (the "lock-in").

According to this classification raised in a Harvard paper, Steam is a locked platform as Valve controls 3 of the 4 aspects described (with the steambox it would be all). Ironically, Windows as platform is much more free than Steam.

But the conclusion taken from this should not be that platforms are bad itself as platforms are developer wanted and have objective technical advantages, the conclusion taken from this should be that proprietory closed platforms in the hand of one vendor are bad.
(This is typically mixed up in the linux realm---and platform qualities like backward compatiblity (via stable APIs) are still controversial debated, e.g. Ian Murdock in his struggle to promote it as part of the LSB On the importance of backward compatibility)

While a cross-platform approach is better than lock-in, a open, free and stable platform is the best solution. Like Android which is a good platform as the development is controled by a free consortium, the interfaces are openly specified, the app developer access is not restricted (not a "walled garden") and everyone can use it: in short it is free in sense of the 4 platforms qualities raised in the Harvard paper.

The perfect solution for me would be, if GOG would progress in a similar open Android like platform direction. :)
Post edited September 04, 2013 by shaddim
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Mnemon: ...Valve played this smart from early on. Offering a DRM package appealed to publishers (and developers) - developing a solid netcode API and similar features with Steam draws in developers more closely. ...
I fully agree. Valves strategy of looking at easy to outsource things (bloody achievements, multiplayer matchmaking, ingame trading, cloud save storage, browsing, chatting, friends, ...) and bundled them in one product to bind more and more publishers to their plattform. The idea is that if a game uses your plattform then the customer will eventually skip buying somewhere else but buy only on the plattform directly (lazy guys) and of course your negotiation power with the publishers increase. Completely rational decision.

The only thing I don't understand is why the publishers didn't develop such a thing by themselves. Valves compared to the big publishers was a tiny company (5 years ago) and still made a better product (supposedly). Hard to believe that there wasn't any good solid netcode API/library available or that such a thing couldn't have easily been produced by a publisher. I thought they have thousands of professional programmers and managers able to strategize too.

It's still hard to believe that even in 2013 there doesn't seem to be a solid alternative netcode API/library, because many games that are on GOG or elsewhere and used to be Steam have among other things (no achievements, but I really don't care) limited or none multiplayer capabilities.

I forgive these developers everything else, but not that they effectively made their multiplayer modes Steam exclusive. They really should have understood that this is a crucial part where you should keep your options a bit wider.

Maybe the predominant opinion is that Steam anyway has won the battle and is effectively an additional layer in PC gaming, so you can as well just develop your games for them. For me it's a sign of overwhelming dominance.
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Trilarion: The only thing I don't understand is why the publishers didn't develop such a thing by themselves. Valves compared to the big publishers was a tiny company (5 years ago) and still made a better product (supposedly).
I really think it s about a unifiying platform. Developers LOVE platforms which helps them address the complete whole gaming audience with one single approach. Steam provides a unifying platform for almost all big publishers titles and also all major OSs (Windows, Mac, linux). And it solves further technical problems in gaming (reduces the developer burden on required own development work), deployment, update, feedback, user involvement ...

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Trilarion: It's still hard to believe that even in 2013 there doesn't seem to be a solid alternative netcode API/library, because many games that are on GOG or elsewhere and used to be Steam have among other things (no achievements, but I really don't care) limited or none multiplayer capabilities.
There are libs which offer singular solutions for subproblems. But there are no complete solutions or as defacto standards perceived solutions available... so game developer would choose solution A, developer chooses B... and so on. A platform whcih (like steam) unifyies this, and developers love reduced problems and less work.
Post edited September 04, 2013 by shaddim
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shaddim: ...There are libs which offer singular solutions for subproblems. But there are no complete solutions or as defacto standards perceived solutions available...
Even this is astonishing that nobody else achieved to create another complete (de facto standard) solution so far.

As I already said, I think the one big, big mistake is that publishers preferred Steams solution also for multiplayer and did not support or rely on another singular solution for multiplayer. With this they effectively sealed the dominance of Steam because in my opinion it gives Steam the killer advantage.

You say it's just that publishers love reduced work. I said it's because publishers think that Steam dominates the PC games market by far and kind of bow to them. Maybe it's both.
Post edited September 04, 2013 by Trilarion
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Trilarion: The only thing I don't understand is why the publishers didn't develop such a thing by themselves. Valves compared to the big publishers was a tiny company (5 years ago) and still made a better product (supposedly). Hard to believe that there wasn't any good solid netcode API/library available or that such a thing couldn't have easily been produced by a publisher. I thought they have thousands of professional programmers and managers able to strategize too.
Sadly long-term planning has been replaced with short-termism and a us-vs-them rather than 'let's collaborate' attitude in a lot of management circles. Plenty of social problems we have are connected to that; and the way the market is ordered (especially in relation to big business) fosters that attitude. [Germany's Mittlestand is a little less guilty of that; few Mittlestand companies want to be as market dominating though and rather focus on being specialists in a small sub-set of the market.]

That no-one else did, is precisely because Valve came in as a semi-small organisation willing to take the risk and innovate / do something different. Most established big-business are seldom trend-setters; they copy, follow, or take over innovative small business, rather than do something no-one else has proven to be successful (as they are incredibly risk-averse in that way). See EA's Origin / Microsoft's Games for Windows / Ubisoft's Uplay - all copying and imitating (badly) Steam on a per publisher base, albeit without really understanding what made Steam big [the open access for all; targeting developers as well as publishers and customers].
Post edited September 04, 2013 by Mnemon
Looks like I won't be going a 500$ giveaway using GOG games in the foreseeable future. Luckily, Wildfire Games (the nonprofit organization behind 0 A.D.) is doing an Indiegogo Campaign. That's where my money will go.
Post edited September 05, 2013 by Future_Suture
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Well that is extremely disappointing.
Unfortunately not much has changed in our stance towards supporting Linux in the last few months and there is one main reason for that. Since our birth over 5 years ago we have always provided full customer support for all games we have released. That is not going to change. For every game we release we provide a money-back guarantee: if we can't get the game working on the customer's computer with the help of our support team, we return the money. The architecture of Linux with many common distros, each of them updating fairly often, makes it incredibly challenging for any digital distribution company to be able to properly test the game in question, and then provide support for the release--all of which our users are accustomed to.
This is why you do what pretty much everyone else has done and pick only one distro to support, or a limited set of distros - and of those, only officially support the Long Term Support releases if a 6-month update cycle is too much to handle. Each distro should be treated as a separate OS in its own right, just like different versions of Windows. Just pick a few mainstream distros to support officially and let the community handle support for the more exotic distros.

Regarding updates: I've actually been paying attention to these (I always set to notify about updates but not automatically install so I can see what gets updated and when). Mint at least does receive updates more frequently than Windows, but it's still only about once per week and the kind of updates are basically the same as you get under Windows - i.e. pretty much just bugfixes. I don't see why this should be considered an issue though as these kinds of updates can just as easily - and they sometimes do - break things on Windows as well. Also I'm yet to have any Mint updates break anything, or if they have then it's been fixed quickly enough that I never noticed.

Honestly, based on my experience since I started using Linux earlier this year I think the the concerns that GOG has about supporting Linux are overblown. I have a *lot* of Linux games on the Humble Store and I've had basically no problems with them so far, even the ones provided only as a simple .tar.gz archive. I attribute this to the fact that Mint is one of the more widely used distros & in particular because it's based on Ubuntu (which most developers seem to be using as their main target distro).
Sure, we could probably release a client and sell the games and let Linux users worry about the rest. We don't consider it, however, a viable option for the business model we have followed so far. Apparently our model has its drawbacks, as we cannot make everyone happy, but, as of now, we don't plan on introducing Linux support in the foreseeable future.
You could, and you absolutely should.

Start by providing basic Linux support as an opt-in only beta feature and just provide the native Linux versions of games that have them. Bring it out of beta only when you feel that you're ready to provide the same level of support as you do for Windows/MacOS.

This would be a win-win solution; we get the native Linux versions of games where available, you get extra sales and Linux experience (including feedback/assistance from the more experienced Linux users here) in preparation for providing full support for whatever distro(s) you choose, and nobody gets to feel ripped off because it would be made very clear via the opt-in that Linux support would be limited. You've already indicated previously that you are not opposed to providing betas/prototypes with limited support so your reluctance to do so with Linux support is baffling.

There is currently no distributor that I know of that both supports Linux and requires every game they sell to be DRM-free. Certainly none as big as GOG at least. This has led to the ridiculous situation where a game is available on GOG and Steam, but if you want the native Linux version then your only choice is to buy the DRM'ed Steam version. And this is happening increasingly often as more and more developers produce Linux versions of their games; even the bigger developers & publishers are taking notice of Linux and some are already promising Linux support. It is stupid that despite all this GOG still refuses to support Linux in even the slightest way.
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adamhm: ...snip...
More or less agreed. The PR piece sounds perfectly reasonable at first, but while it's admirable to have a money back guarantee (which I didn't even know about) I'm just not sure it's a good enough reason.

If multiple distros are a problem then pick one, and let us worry about if we need to have a supported install running or take our chances. That level of hand holding is just unnecessary, especially given the group of people asking for it , and that we have more or less unanimously said that we are willing to take a compromise.

If that still isn't good enough then just look at the world, and be willing to say, "Our policy isn't working here." I'm glad GOG sticks to their guns, and all things considered it's a trait we need GOG to have, but we don't need policy to be some ridged law that gets obeyed just because it is there. We need to be able to look over and see something rare is happening and that perhaps some carefully crafted exception can be made. GOG polled us to see if we would accept things like DLC, why not poll us to see what we would willing to compromise in this regard? This isn't like compromising on DRM to exclude existing users, it's about a concession to be more inclusive, and to be for accommodating for the ones you have.

I think everyone on this side of the fence realizes that it may be a long, long time before Linux can pull its weight financially, and that asking GOG to invest in what amounts to a drain isn't really what we are wanting. We just want the door opened just a little, how doesn't even matter. Make us email customer service and request that version like a MP key, or send us something we can go to the developer with. It really doesn't matter just a whole lot.

I don't know what kind of flack, or customer loss GOG fears from a bad Linux trip, but I find it hard to believe it's worse than the frustration created by painting themselves as a home for indies but not selling the full indie experience. The worst thing I can see happening is ticking off a few Linux users, but right now they are opting to shun them all.
Post edited September 06, 2013 by gooberking
Sorry GOG but that's just BS. Linux is not an operating system. A Linux distro is an operating system. You can just support one Linux based operating system ie Ubuntu LTS or whatever. If you pick a version, ie 12.04 LTS, there's not much variance in that, now is there?

Well I guess it's just old games on GOG for me.. for others wherever I find the native Linux versions DRM-free.
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gooberking: ...The PR piece sounds perfectly reasonable at first, but while it's admirable to have a money back guarantee (which I didn't even know about) I'm just not sure it's a good enough reason. ...
Basically the PR is always biased and GOG is no exception there. Their view is quite selective and tilted. But hey, they don't need to give any explanation at all. It's their decision and only theirs.

I believe there are somewhat higher costs of support at higher risk of failures and considerable smaller market sizes which altogether might not give the highest possible return but still it might be worthwile. I feel that sticking to a business model without showing flexibility is not optimal. Rather decisions should be based mostly on expected return of investment.

Or in short: If they don't do it, maybe somebody else will do it. And then money will go somewhere else too.
Post edited September 06, 2013 by Trilarion
Very very sad to read that.
Especially when I am waiting for various Kickstarter projects to release in the next few years.
Should I inform devs of these projects that I should have the Windows version, expecting to play them with Wine?
Should I maintain Linux version, in hope to have a DRM-free version?
Should I be afraid of that Linux version could be a Steam-only one, and have just the Linux logo on the box and would never use CDs/DVDs and let the box on the shelf taking dust, and should consequently buy an extra Windows version, or wait for a hypothetical DRM-free Linux version on HBS few months/years after the original release?
Should I ever trust a dev on any crowdfunding game campaign when claiming there will be a Linux version and DRM-free?

I was hoping that DFA/BA, W2, D:OS, PE or T:ToN would change something, even if it wouldn't be for tomorrow.
I don't know what to think now.
Post edited September 06, 2013 by Huinehtar
If I would use Linux more often than I do right now I would prefer the DRM free Linux version of the Kickstarter projects from whereever they provide it (I never needed the money back guarantee of GOG and probably never will).

If there is no DRM free Linux version than I would either use the Linux Steam version or a DRM free Windows version. It would then be almost the same to me.

I would trust developers on crowdfunding plattforms like Kickstarter to provide a DRM free Linux version if they say so, because on Kickstarter developers actually have to deliver what they promise otherwise you can get your money back.

It's always a good idea to wait a few months after release unless you want to play/support that particular game very much. Waiting means less bugs, lower price, more plattforms. Only good things.
Post edited September 06, 2013 by Trilarion
I think most of the big Kickstarter games will be available from the developers website as a DRM free linux version. Larian Vault, inXile's Ranger Center etc.