As part of the recent CD Projekt Witcher conference, the team at GOG.com, a subsidiary of Witcher developer CD Projekt Red, announced GOG Galaxy.
GOG Galaxy is CD Projekt's answer to game clients like Steam and Origin. It offers many of the same conveniences, but without what it feels are compromises required by the others.
If you know CD Projekt, some of the ideas it presents aren't going to be anything new.
"We believe gamers should have the ability to play a game anywhere and any time," said GOG Vice President Guillaume Rambourg during the presentation. "The game is yours, you should have the power to do with it what you want." Rambourg cited a trip to a relative's or gaming in an airplane as two examples where one might want to play a PC game but can't activate it.
That's the first pillar of the three pillar approach. The second is that the client will never be required. You can play any game you buy from GOG as a standalone game. You get the benefits of automatic updates and achievement sharing by running the client, but you can play the game either way.
The third pillar, which GOG is calling Cross-Play, is mean to enable players to play across distribution networks.
"Let's say you bought the game on Steam and I bought it on GOG," he suggests to co-founder Marcin Iwinski, also on stage. "We are friends, so we should be able to play together. That's where GOG Galaxy comes into play. It will connect players whether they are on the same platform or not."
If it was almost any other company presenting these ideas, they might seem laughable, but GOG is uniquely positioned for this to work. There is already a wide library of games available through GOG, something that is constantly expanding.
Perhaps more importantly, though, GOG and CD Projekt are as beloved as Steam and parent company Valve, albeit in smaller numbers. Whatever the company does, it approaches it from a perspective of best practices for the consumer. The original Witcher wasn't a perfect game, but the company released a massive patch that fixed problems and added a large amount of content that was free to those who owned the game already. Starting with Witcher 2, the company took a hardline stance against DRM, something it holds hard onto. With Witcher 3, the company stated there will be only one version of the game on each platform, a stark contrast to recent games like Watch_Dogs. Whether you buy collector's or standard editions, the software is the same.
All of these steps have made them a fan favorite, which may give them the leverage to pull this off. The first game to use GOG Galaxy will be the Witcher adventure game, which goes into multiplayer beta later this year.