The dream of DRM-free Steam PC games is fading

The dream of DRM-free Steam PC games is fading
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An open laptop shows the Steam storefront, with various games like The Witcher 3 for sale.

Photo: Casimiro PT (Shutterstock)

Good Old Games, or GOG, CD Projekt’s digital rights management-free PC gaming marketplace and platform, has officially ended a service that no longer seemed too long to this world. What once seemed like a promising way to slowly import parts of your Steam library into GOG, where they could exist in an infinitely archivable format, has now finally petered out.

GOG launched in 2008 as an alternative to other digital game stores on PC, focusing on making older, hard-to-find games buyable. The icing on the cake? All of these games would be available without any digital rights management software to restrict what you do with your .exe copies. Unlike Steam, GOG games are much easier to back up and reinstall on multiple computers, all without needing to get bogged down in any kind of online account authorization. In 2012, the service expanded from older PC gaming gems to modern titles while maintaining the DRM-free policy.

In 2016, GOG announced “Connect”, a service that allows you to connect your Steam library to redeem select titles you already owned as DRM-free copies on GOG, and such games are only eligible to redeem within a limited period of time. However, those who have checked in recent years have found nothing more than digital tumbleweeds. And now, in January 2023, said link and service now only directs to the GOG homepage, officially marking the end of this once very promising program. always had a “this is too good to be true” air. A service that gives you an extra copy of a game you already own, with no restrictions on how you can back it up, install it, reinstall it, sell it, or share it? How even?

But while the service was active, it was not only a great way to migrate to a new platform, but a handy way to archive your Steam library. Although Steam is quite an accessible and reliable platform that often gives you access to games that you have purchased but have since been removed from the store (2007’s Prey is one such example), DRM is still widely used on the Valve store and trying to use the service without a reliable internet connection can render a game unplayable, as many traveling Steam Deck users have discovered. GOG Connect was once a promising solution to this problem. But, the idea of ​​one day being able to move a substantial amount of your library into something archivable, without spending a dime, was too good to be true.

Like many, I used this service quite a bit when it launched. I would keep the link bookmarked to visit once a week. But as the available games began to run out, it faded from memory. I still play the game of “should I get this on Steam or GOG?” whenever something I want appears in both services. The promise of GOG Connect once made the question irrelevant.

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