Preserving Gaming’s Past and Future

Today when we see the words CD Projekt, we think about terrifically Slavic open world role-playing games. Perhaps we think of a card game, or more often than anything today, a first-person Cyberpunk adventure. But these are all the fruits of CD Projekt RED, the development studio founded in 2002. Their parent company, CD Projekt, has been distributing games throughout Poland as far back as 1994. You see, years before CDP started to make games, they sold them. And they sold them in one of the most unforgiving markets on the planet.

For decades, the media market in communist Poland was dominated by piracy. In a country with no copyright law to speak of where people had little money, open air markets were the most common way to get music, movies, or games, where cheap knockoffs were sold alongside official boxed copies for a fraction of the price. So when the Iron Curtain finally came down and Poland emerged into capitalism, the market was full of a generation of people who had been conditioned to think that piracy was the norm and official releases were like special editions.

It’s the knowledge of this consumer behavior that helped CD Projekt beat the pirates. They struck deals with foreign developers to sell games like Ace Ventura and Baldur’s Gate. Then they cracked those games open and localized them into Polish.

They made special Polish box art and packaged the free spins at WMS casinos at with goodies, cloth maps, mouse pads, and much more. They would beat piracy the only way they knew how, not by using DRM, but by making the official boxed copy of the game worth that extra cost. So why am I telling you this?

Well, because the spirit of CD Projekt’s distribution company would go on to create one of the most powerful forces in games preservation today. A team of people who hunt down the code for forgotten games, who broker deals between companies all around the world, and then break those games apart to recode them to work on modern systems. To many people, is just another place to buy games, but today we’re going to uncover the incredible work that these people do behind the scenes, their never-ending mission to bring good old games back from the dead.

– In the early days, like when I joined, let’s say close to 20 years ago, I’d say the biggest competitor for the CD Projekt was the piracy. That was like the biggest thing in Poland. I mean, compared to today, back then it was like really bad.

Like, rarely anyone bought new games. The games were expensive and the typical, folks would just say why would you spend so much money on a game if you can buy it, you can go to the stadium. We called it Stadion Dziesieciolecia, like basically that’s known as a sport’s stadium, but back in the day it was just basically used for selling all kind of illegal goods, with movies, games, music, whatever you would think of, yeah? – Real market, let’s say the legal market, didn’t exist, so everything was pirate software. We didn’t know that actually it’s a pirated thing because we were actually going to the flea markets, buying the CD-ROMs in the jewel cases, thinking that actually we are buying it straight from the developer or publisher. We were happy.

We were getting them sometimes with a very weird localization. But again, we just thought that okay, maybe they didn’t have enough resources or not enough money. So it was interesting to enjoy it. At the same time, from time to time we were getting these big boxes from our parents.

We were thinking these were collector’s editions. But actually, these were the legal, the actual copies. Like proper DVD cases with some manuals, instructions. – At that point, basically guys like, kind of made maybe the obvious discovery from our point of view that there is no way to fight piracy with DRMs. Because I don’t think there is any title which was not pirated.

It’s maybe a matter of time, sometimes hours, sometimes maybe days. There were titles which took longer, but in the end, you know all the stuff is pirated. So there was always this one sentence that actually Marcin used to repeat, which likely strikes a chord in me. If a paying, like legal customer, has to go through some extra hassle because of a DRM, while the customer who, customer, well the guy who just downloaded the game from illegally, doesn’t have to go through, then there is something really wrong at that point, yeah? I mean, why? You’re supposed to, you’re paying for this and you have, like, a worse experience?

How come, yeah? So at that point, I think this kind of anti-DRM, anti-copy protection kind of thing was already part of the DNA of the company and we were trying more to win the hearts of the customers with the content, with the titles, with the prices rather than with any kind of copy protections. So once we moved into like, hey, let’s start digital, let’s try to do our own digital distributions platform, I think it was kind of like very obvious that you would start from that point. – [Danny] DRM, or digital rights management, has been around for decades. In the modern era, it usually involves digital licenses that ensure you are the person who purchased the game, like logging into your iTunes account or Steam. With the rise of digital distribution in the mid-2000s, CD Projekt’s founders Marcin Iwinski and Michal Kicinski, saw an opportunity to bring their learnings from the distribution days into this modern era.

So they founded a new subsidiary, GOG, or Good Old Games. – GOG is the digital heritage of our distribution business. We saw how the digital is developing, and it was only Steam, but we thought it was super cool for the gamers.

And initially we found our niche with the back catalog. So back catalog, the learnings from Baldur’s Gate, so the reverse engineering, making it compatible and whatnot. And most importantly, great selection that we were always good at. And the best service for gamers we can provide. So that intentionally was the fundament of GOG, plus obviously DRM-free and that’s what we believed in.

– Why is the DRM-free so important to you? – Ah. Because it’s freedom. It’s do what you want with your game, we trust you. It comes from the days of piracy here. And it’s like us with Baldur’s Gate competing against the pirates.

And it was always the carrot, never the stick. So because we make such a great thing and it’s fairly priced and there is great service and we guarantee it works and you can be part of the community, we are sure you will buy it. And you will not steal it. And even if we protect it, you still can get a cracked version. So why should we give you an inferior version?

And it proved a point. Why to buy back catalog games? Why would you need that? Some of you probably won’t play them.

But I want to have them in my collection, so you have a beautiful looking digital shelf and digital collection of games. I think that’s fundamentally, they’re all learnings from other solutions combined. – Like, the meeting I recall still in my head was the meeting with the other founder, Michal Kicinski. And like, I think we had just like a one hour meeting, which basically ended with a very little sticky note just saying classic titles, DRM-free, low price point, super easy buying experience.

That’s it, yeah? And it’s like, I mean it’s obvious in a way. Why not?

So what were the games then, back then, that you targeted? What were the companies you tried to get on? – It was super simple. The goal was to bring at least one big publisher on board and to convince somebody that we can go DRM-free.

And I remember meeting absolutely everybody, explaining how cool it is, and I still remember this feeling of us being small super tiny guys nobody knew about. And the only thing that helped was Marcin, whom some of these guys knew from the distribution side. – I remember a lot of frustration of a lot of people who were basically like knocking on all the doors of all the developers and publishers they knew.

And it wasn’t like, in a way, like in the way, it was more like sure guys, that’s a bold idea I guess, but we would like someone to try this first before we’ll sign. – We clearly understood that our main competition is piracy. Because these games were available on so-called abandonware websites or just some weird resources. And we were thinking how we need to convince gamers to buy it from us, because somehow they can get it for free. And many of them would consider that getting this from this abandonware websites would be legal.

So we thought the key, let’s add as much bonus goodies as possible. Let’s make sure it’s compatible with modern operating systems, more or less, as much as we can. – [Danny] The team spent months traveling to companies trying to get the first one to sign. In the end it was the connections from those old days that came through. In fact, it was the same distribution partner that had given CDP their big break back in the ’90s.

The owners of Baldur’s Gate, Interplay. – Actually, we managed to convince Interplay which was actually a very good starting point considering all of the classics they had, especially Fallout 1, Fallout 2. At that time, it was Interplay and co-lease as well. And then that’s how we started.

But it was quite a long process and I think that we secured those titles. We were very close to launching, really, and we were still fighting, still visiting all the studios trying to sign something. But then it somehow magically happened.

Like I remember that I think at some point, it was maybe, I think it was Stakelogic (read their games reviews), I’m not 100% sure, they came to us and said nice, that’s cool stuff, let’s release our titles here. It was like, wow. At that point, we kind of got this feeling. Okay, maybe we’re onto something here, yeah?

– And there were really cool people working at Ubisoft who were also, like, crazy gamers. And they totally supported us and they said okay, let’s try it out. So it was like a snowball effect.

So, the first partner joined us and then it was easier. We were able to come into others saying, hey guys. So Ubisoft is already with us and we want to be between the first ones, we want to be the last one.

Nobody wants to be the last one, nobody wants to be the first one. So it was easier to convince many companies afterwards. – [Danny] If GOG thought that getting permission to do the work was going to be the biggest hurdle, then they were in for a shock.

Getting each game to the platform would be its own unique challenge. Before they had a chance to find the source code, before they tried to recreate the box art, or program the game to work on modern operating systems, they would first have to find out who owned it. This work was done by GOG’s business development team. And more often than not, these puzzles took years to solve.

I think it always starts with the research on our side. So we’re trying to understand who might have the rights for this product nowadays. So it’s simple, it’s just going through different things like movie games, I don’t know, Wikipedias, then talking to some guys from the companies that were developing this game back to the time or to producers of those games, asking do you know who might have the rights for it nowadays? In easy cases, they will just tell us okay, the rights stayed definitely with the publisher. And then we just go to publisher and tell them hey guys, can you please push your legal team or convince your legal team to research on this particular game if you still have the rights for it or not? If we are lucky, the legal team will find some time for us and they will say yes guys, definitely.

Let’s add it to our existing agreement. In other cases, the company might say yes, we probably hold some rights, but not all of them, so we don’t want to bother. And then you need to do their homework for them. So we need to go and check who might have the rights for, for example, for music, who has the rights for the IP, and usually the publisher still holds the rights for the code and I would say, more or less, all these derivative products like box art, et cetera, et cetera. These are the most complicated things. – So when we talk about, for example, big publishers, they always have certain procedures and there is a culture within their organization, which you are not aware of.

So the first thing you need to do is to understand, what is this culture? Are they money driven? Are they a public company? Or do they have any requirements which they have to comply due to whatever reasons? When we tried to sign some older titles and we learned something about like, the company does no longer exist.

And you have to think like, where do you trace? Like, how do you get a game? How do you get the game? Because it’s usually in legal hell. That’s how it’s a starting point.

Somebody used to own a company, there were some partners, the company breaks, something happened with the right, there was a publisher, what do we know? What’s in the agreement between the publisher and the developer? So we have no idea which things were licensed, purchased, transferred, and then it starts.

You go to one meeting, another meeting, learn a little piece of things. Sometimes it’s light, sometimes it’s not. Sometimes people just remember things differently. If there’s two partners, that’s the most interesting case because they usually have different understanding of what was in the agreement.

So until you get your hands on the initial source, which is whether the papers or the people who actually created those documents, you don’t really know what’s the story there. And we end up with completely different stories. Like, people hating each other for some reason because they couldn’t bear to work together and then we have to find, help them to find peace between each other. Or we learn that there is one entity which owns the rights for the IP and then there’s another entity which owns the right for code. And there is writing which belongs to the third party and they don’t even know each other.

And they have no idea that they own the thing. – The team had wandered in to a legal nightmare. The games they were trying to re-release were created in an era where nobody was future proofing these legal agreements, during a time where the games industry was a merry-go-round of acquisitions and mergers. This meant that oftentimes to get a game released on GOG, the team would embark on years of negotiation.

– Lots of gamers were asking for Star Wars games, especially old ones. So this was one of our holy grails. Something that we were fighting for and that when we managed to sign it, we were super happy because we were going through a lot of iterations together with Lucas and then later on with Disney when we were so close to signing it and then management changes.

For about three months there is silence and then we start from scratch. So again, same pitch. And you talk to new people. They are like, what do you want from us? Like, different people from manager position to SVP level at Lucas at that time and then we were lucky enough to find, again, some gamers at Disney that helped us a lot.

– As you know, SWAT 4 is published by Activision. And for a long period of time, it was challenging for us to understand, where is the blockers for us to get certain titles? But everything changed the moment we got a US team on board, because now GOG has a European office and we have a US office, which is dealing with the business. And our US business team managed very quickly to get a proper line of communication with Activision because they are both Americans.

And that’s a culture. So we realized that all, everything we were doing wrong, was basically just not being fully aware of the US culture. Even though everybody knows about US culture, right? But even being international and knowing like, how things are going in different parts of the world, there were still blockers which can break bridges being 10,000 miles away. – Probably the most tough one so far was getting the rights for Gold Box titles and old Warhammer titles. Those ones were with SSI.

And SSI went through quite a few mergers, acquisitions, Mattel was a group then part of their, their rights were bought by Ubisoft with Myst games. So we had to actually talk with lots of people involved in those deals in order to understand who actually holds the rights for the codes of these Gold Box titles like Eye of the Beholder nowadays. And then we found that company and they have nothing to do with the software nowadays, you know? And they were like, telling okay guys, we might have somebody in our archives where we put old things we’ve acquired across the last 20 years, but it’s like a separate company. They’re just archiving all these deals. If you’ve managed to find somebody interested there, maybe we’ll be able to make a deal with you.

Again, they didn’t want to talk to us because like, who are you, GOG, CD Projekt, Polish company? It’s a tough one. So we had to ask our lawyers who we were working with for help. Because when they come in with their big titles, with the huge firms behind them, at least these guys will talk to them. – So I’m coming from Russia. So initially when I came to GOG, it was very important for me that I can bring some historical context from my region where I come from, some games which were developed in Russia but were never released in English territories or outside of Russia.

And it was interesting for me to find out that a lot of the agreements for all the titles which I praised as a kid, nobody actually signed any papers. So there is just a buddy agreement between people, which we had to formalize before we could sign, have legal grounds to release the games on GOG. So you have to find these people and some of them are living in Australia, some of them are living back in Russia, some of them in the States.

It’s a culture. Again, we are going back to the point of the culture where things are done differently in different parts of the world. For example, in Japan there is a, I know cases where publishers are not signing any papers with vendor providers because everything in Japan is based on the trust, that you have to trust someone in order to do something.

And if you fail once, your reputation is destroyed. So because big publishers are in position with the force, they would not sign some papers with vendor providers just saying that we’ll trust you and because of that, you’re going to work with us. And they do. They pay them, they pay money and they proceed to working like this. – [Danny] The team used their own favorite games as a launch point for the service, but they also took inspiration from the wider gaming community, hunting down the rights for dozens of games that were either lost to time or incompatible with modern operating systems. Over the years this community wishlist has expanded, but the games at the top are almost all projects that GOG has been working on getting for years.

Right now there are people in the back trying to get No One Lives Forever and Dune II onto the– – You will be surprised, but we talked about No One Lives Forever just a week ago. It’s ongoing. Like, oh I have this new lead about this thing.

Really, we haven’t talked about it for a year. Great, so what do you know? What do you know? Let’s check what we have in our archives about that. Hmm, that’s a new development. This guy two years ago told us that we don’t have rights for this and this.

Maybe he was not 100% correct. – [Danny] You guys are like detectives. – That’s, yeah. I think if I will get fired one day from GOG, I’m probably gonna go and work as a detective. – [Danny] The one game I remember that kept coming up on over and over again was Homeworld: Cataclysm. And it’s on the system now.

– Yes, it is. – [Danny] And it has this really interesting description that says that it’s, we changed the name, but it’s literally the same game. – [Oleg] It’s exactly the same title.

– [Danny] Right, so I’m guessing Blizzard somehow had– – Because somebody has the rights for Cataclysm trademark, right? And so they are using it actively in World of Warcraft, so. – [Danny] Which is crazy, considering I think Homeworld: Cataclysm came out like a decade before. – [Oleg] Yes.

It’s just the matter that, again, some companies prefer to protect themselves better or protect their IPs. I think they have nothing against generally using Homeworld: Cataclysm, but if you’re going through a legal team, again, they’re not gamers. They just need to make sure they protect their company in the best possible way.

– [Danny] Black & White, that’s locked up by Lionhead or someone else probably has it, or? – [Oleg] We’re still working on it. It’s a very complicated story because nobody can actually explain who has the right for it.

Because when you’re asking Microsoft if they rights for it, they’re telling no. And you’re asking Lionhead, and they’re like, they are part of Microsoft. They’re also telling you no. So maybe there are some individuals that are involved in this whole process, but still.

They don’t have all the rights, they have only part of the rights. Still, maybe one day. – [Danny] What about something a little bit more, I don’t know, I didn’t realize if the Westwood stuff was that hard to come by. Dune II, for instance. – That’s a, well with the rights again, it’s super clear here. So part of it was with Westwood, so that’s an issue with Electronic Arts nowadays.

But another part is with the family, the IP rights. – Right, Frank Herbert? – Yes, yes. And the problem is that I am not sure the relationship between these two companies are good or bad.

I don’t know. But apparently that’s what I’ve heard. It’s really tough to find a compromise between these two parties. In the past, many companies were not thinking about getting perpetual rights, for example. They were getting the rights for one year, two years.

And then they were thinking the game will die. It’s nowadays, when the game has a longer lifecycle. At that time, okay, we are using it for two years, done.

In many cases, there were crazy deals with some actors, for example, when we were paying them a crazy amount of dollars per copy thinking that they would be selling the game only for $60. And once you’re telling that, guys, we want to sell it for $10, nowadays they’re like no, no, no, no, no. The royalties we need to pay per copy for this or that actor, they’re already 20. And like, what?

And then lots of deals were just done for a few particular countries. And this gets so complicated sometimes. It’s just painful.

So some titles will never see the light, unfortunately, because of this theme. – [Danny] I can see a company like Disney, for instance, they would say we’re signing away our games and it’s not that big a market for us. Like, Disney is a multi-billion dollar company, right? – Yes. – So you’re not going to sell it to them based on the dollars, right? – Purely on dollars, no.

But at the same time, they’re super happy when something is happening on the PR side. Like I remember how happy they were when we re-released Aladdin, Lion King. And again, I cannot say that it was like a super top seller for us.

No, it sold quite well. But still, the main thing was PR around these IPs. And I know that’s, lots of people at Disney were super happy. Not even in the gaming department, but general Disney. – [Danny] And you’re also doing a lot of work for them in terms of actually getting this stuff up, right? That’s part of the deal.

– Yes, and then they can reuse it and sell it to another platform, which is another bonus that they’re getting from us. – [Danny] If the biz-dev team managed to solve the legal puzzle and if they managed to get all parties on board and acknowledge and agree to the sale of the game, then they’d pass the project up to the products team. You’d think it would be plain sailing from this point, but sadly, you’d be wrong. Because often the people who own the rights to these games have absolutely no idea where the code is.

(relaxing atmospheric music) – For oldies or for old games like before year 2000, it is extremely rare to get a build from the developer. We are not talking even about the source code here, we are talking about the actual game. So yeah, I have the rights for it, but I have absolutely nothing for that game. – [Danny] That’s crazy.

Like, not even like a copy of it buried somewhere? – [Marcin] Absolutely nothing. So you have to do the research.

You need to find out what this game had, you need to find the build, you need to be sure that you have all the goodies. Because our community was kind of unforgiving for missing something important. So yeah, you need to have that right. If the game had an active community, it was also a good practice to contact that community.

Hey, we are working on releasing this game on GOG. Because a lot of times, there was something they could do to actually help us because they were basically living and breathing this game. Often they have very, very useful information, as sometimes even they’d prepared up an entire build for us. So hey, this is a fixed game. Just feel free to release it on GOG.

– Fixing Carmageddon, for example. I know that community was helping us a lot. Developers were helping us a lot trying to find some pieces, bits and pieces of the source code. And then we all together were working on this product to make it available for gamers. And then another one was not Theme Hospital, unfortunately, but Theme Parks. That one was also broken despite the fact that many people were telling, come on, it will just work on their DOSBox.

Actually, it didn’t. So we had to put, again, lots of efforts, make some reverse engineering. Ask some of our external programmers to help on it. No no no, trust me.

Actually a lot of external guys who work for GOG, and we use their help from time to time, they are just hardcore gamers. – The help from the community in some of the releases was enormous. As an example, I don’t know, Wing Commander games. There was a site, still is, Wing Commander News. So basically just a huge community of Wing Commander fans that was led by Ben Lesnick, who is now working, I think, on Star Citizen, as one of the directors there even. So he helped us a lot because they have gathered all the materials, all the development documents, and we have all of it, all of it, all on GOG.

– [Danny] One piece of technology that helped the product team immensely was DOSBox. DOSBox is a piece of software that emulates DOS running on an IBM PC, which allows modern operating systems to run many older incompatible games. The team uses this emulator as a wrapper on a lot of their older games and often works with the creators of DOSBox to solve particularly puzzling problems. – On GOG, we’ve been dealing with those games since the day one. So we kind of know the drill here.

And DOS issues are usually related to DOSBox configuration and they can be solved by that. There were some cases that were much more complicated. Like for example, Harvester, or it was Theme Park. Other times we had problems like, for example, it was Realms of Arkania 3, in which the last boss couldn’t be beaten.

Like really. The entire game works, then you go to the last boss. And you have the last boss, his posse here, and you are killing everyone. But there is just this one guy at the bottom of the screen that just stands there. You can’t interact with him. He’s just there.

You can’t kill him. And basically the game includes them in the winning condition. So if he is there, you are unable to win the game. And we were like, trying to fix it for so many hours. Yeah, so it turned out that there was a small problem with the memory allocation that we found, that basically our game, when it was checking for the NPCs, it should spawn in that particular scenario, it was adding one more. Also, a lot of times it’s this kind of lights out game.

So for example, you are fixing one issue and two more pop up and so on and so forth. Like for example, which game was it? Carmageddon 1. Yes. But for Carmageddon 1, we had like 60, over 60 builds prepared for that game. Each build fixed something and broke another thing.

And it happened for us 60 times. The games that are really tricky to fix are the games that are DirectX games, but before DirectX 9. Those are very complicated. Shadows of the Empire. When we got the game, we couldn’t even run it. Like really, we tried everything.

It was crushing. It was a disaster. Like even if we got it to run, there was all kind of graphical artifacts there.

It was, it looked like a hopeless case. What we ended up doing is actually we’ve re-written our entire DirectX wrapper. So basically we’ve translated everything the game’s engine is doing through a wrapper to DirectX 9. It was painful, it took a lot of time. But the end effect was awesome. The game works and it works very, very good on all the systems right now.

– [Danny] One key job for the product team is pulling out whatever DRM may have been included in the original game. For more modern games, this is often some sort of online authentication software built into the code of the game. But DRM existed before games were even connected to the internet. This was often in the form of CD keys, code wheels, or even just by asking you to type in a particular word in the user manual. – There are different forms of DRM.

We are dealing with each one differently. When we get the build from the developer that is not DRM-free, it happens from time to time, we usually ask the developer for a DRM-free build. So okay, there is still something left here because our QA found it, could you please? But a lot of times we don’t have time. So we have a team that is able to do it.

So then we are just informing developers that yeah, we got the build, that there was a part of the DRM here. We removed it by doing this and this and that. And yeah, if you are fine with that, just. And a lot of times, this is just yeah, yeah, go ahead, it’s fine. – [Danny] I remember like, there’s a lot of games that came out in the ’90s that used like, physical forms of DRM. – Yeah, the code books are very popular.

So just put a word, the second word from the 28th page there. That was the common DRM thing. But you were removing it from the games in most cases.

Some had more elaborate ones like, for example, there was a spinning wheel in which you have to match specific things in order to get the correct answer to put actually in the game. And it was so cleverly tied to the game that we actually left that in. Because it was not just a question out of nowhere, that was actually the part of the game. Yeah, we are fixing those games. We are making sure that they work and that they are viable for the future generation. We are gathering all the goodies that are associated with those games, counting all the manuals and all the language versions and all the design documents we can find and we’re basically preserving it.

– [Danny] Yeah, do you have someone who just scans manuals into PDFs or? – This is always the task of the new guy. – [Danny] Once the product team had found the codes, torn out all the DRM, fixed the bugs, scanned all the manuals, and collected all the goodies they could find, the game is finally ready to be released. But each of these games is still part of the product team’s responsibility.

This team is responsible for ensuring that all the games work on as many operating systems as possible. And that includes new ones. – When Windows 10 came out, we literally launched all of the games we have on GOG to make sure that they work on the system.

And if they didn’t, we tried to fix them well. It took a lot of time. Yeah, but I’m proud to say that we’ve managed to do it. There is like a small percentage of the game that doesn’t work on Windows 10.

However, we did not forget about those games and eventually I am sure they will be fixed. And if there will be a Windows 11 or whatever, we will do the same thing. (relaxing electronic music) – [Danny] GOG originally stood for Good Old Games, but the initialism has been dropped in recent years as the mission of the service has expanded. In March of 2012, GOG opened their doors to new games, focusing on getting DRM-free versions of AAA and indie titles onto their store.

Right away, the indies were into it. For many of them, getting their game on GOG was seen as a mark of approval because the service was curated. That means that unlike other digital marketplaces, each game released on the platform had to be approved by GOG. But convincing major publishers to put AAA titles on a store DRM-free has continued to be difficult. – Let’s say they always, always release the games with DRMs for example, right?

And suddenly there are some guys coming saying hey guys, don’t worry, just switch to DRM-free, right? I mean, surely in your head like, there is some kind of like a warning sign. And what if they are going to be pirated, yeah?

And it’s very easy to kind of get into this, like, thinking. And if you would make this kind of a change, let’s say suddenly start releasing games DRM-free, you probably would need to now have some kind of approval from this director, that director, then there is a legal team involved, and then the guys will tell you no, hell no, no way. Just don’t do this, guys. You will have a ton of problems. I think even if there is one or two guys there that we talk to who say yes, we totally understand what you guys are doing, but please understand us.

We’re working in a very complex company with a ton of different stakeholders. We have to convince a lot of people. You can throw at me, like, from the side of devil’s advocate perspective, you can say look, those three, five, 10, whatever, super big franchises, they all have DRM. Did they sell well?

Yes, they did. So why should we ditch it? We’re trying to make, like slowly, like water erodes the rock. Just say hey, but look.

Witcher 3 launched without DRMs and it sold a lot of copies, right? So you can do it. And they say hmm, maybe. I guess we need more and more cases like that, yeah? – Is it hard? Yes, it got definitely harder.

That’s why we don’t have so many day one AAA releases. Because as I told you, the publishers and developers are still scared of this. And sometimes it’s just probably a matter of people getting used to certain approaches in business and it takes some time to change your approach, once you see that it’s not that bad. We had a very nice test case with The Witcher 3, that was a recent day one DRM-free on GOG. Nothing happened, the game still sells. I’ve heard it sells quite well and I think outsells many games that were released with DRM even though some of these were bigger at the time.

Still, can we convince everybody with just this example? Unfortunately not. We still have a fight that is happening all the time trying to explain, showcase, bring different numbers, graphs, quotes, studies, but it just takes time. I really believe that one day we’ll manage to break through it, especially with the support of our community, which is very vocal. Very vocal.

And we appreciate their support. – [Danny] As GOG took on more newer release games, the demands of their audience and publishing partners started to have an effect on the product. They realized the developers wanted to be able to add updates themselves. And that, with new games being patched so often nowadays, players wanted to have the ability to auto-update their titles. So they created a new front end, GOG Galaxy, which provides one click installation, access to community features, all with the same control over the DRM-free installations as before.

The work to create this complex networked software accidentally created an opportunity for GOG and CD Projekt Red to collaborate. While these two companies share a building and eat at the same cafeteria, they work independently of each other. That was until the developers across the hall decided to make a competitive card game. – So then you fast forward, Gwent became a big success inside The Witcher.

And the decision was made to, hey, let’s actually make it a game, which is quite more impressive than the Gwent in Witcher 3 ever was. And I guess someone just thought okay, so we have those guys at GOG, they are like having, they run 1000 or so servers, probably do, so they probably know some stuff about networking, right? We know stuff about developing games, so why don’t we really work together, yeah? So it was kind of like an obvious match, perfect match made in heaven. I mean, Gwent is kind of a separate project.

I mean, like we have GOG running as GOG and the team working on Gwent, where secrets have to be separate. I guess if this will work well, and so far it works really great, we are very, like, happy with the feedback we get from Gwent and with the numbers of people playing. So I guess we’ll be trying to reapply this maybe in future games, probably that could be one way to do it. Definitely working on GOG Galaxy, this is another thing that’s very, very important to us.

I know we still have a lot of catching up to do. And of course, the release of games. This is a never-ending chase.

The games which were day ones a couple of years ago will soon be classics. No, no, we’re very passionate in knowing the stuff that we’re doing. We love games and our goal is to release as many DRM-free titles, quality ones, as we can.

And this is what we are going to push forward. – [Danny] Since its founding, GOG has had an immeasurable effect on the gaming world. Not only are they responsible for bringing hundreds of games back from the dead, but their mission to encourage developers to drop DRM in favor of more consumer-friendly practices has been an important counter-argument in an industry that so often tries to take advantage of its consumers. This team has managed to change perception of DRM as the only answer to piracy, all stemming from the lessons they learned growing up in modern Polish society. If they could do that, I had to wonder if it was possible for them to tear down other seemingly insurmountable walls.

From my layman’s perspective, the architecture of consoles has become more and more closer to PC. So it doesn’t seem to be an architecture problem so much as it is a, I don’t know, legal, licensing, whatever problem. Can you imagine a future in which they’d allow, like.

– Those games to be ported? – Yeah, onto that console. – On PC? Oh. I would love to have first PS, PSX games, PS1. Oh yeah.

I think it might be possible at some point. However, from what we have been able to gather because we did the research, it might be very, very complicated. Because how the rights are structured, they’re, I wouldn’t say that this is impossible and I would certainly love to have some of the console games on GOG. Because we would be able to make them work.

– [Danny] And how about– – Maybe we’ve already tried. (relaxing electronic music) – Okay, so I am Piotr, or Peter, and I am the support team leader. I know that your favorite game is SWAT 4, because I asked, I heard from one of the guys.

So the most common problem with SWAT 4, if you can call it a problem, is people not being able to play multiplayer. Multiplayer works fine, but it’s direct IP based. You don’t have your server browser or like matchmaking people, stuff people are used to. So you need to either use some tunneling software to do this the easy way and find your mate or do some like port forwarding, some stuff people are not accustomed to. – [Danny] Like go to like– – If they’re not our age, I suppose. – [Danny] Like opening command prompt and putting in, like, IP config to find out your IP and all that sort of stuff?

– Yeah yeah yeah, and going to your router settings to make sure that the ports used by SWAT 4 is actually mapped to your local IP in your network. Working at GOG in general, helping people, yes. It’s kind of who I am. That’s why I main support classes. – [Danny] Perfect. – It is kind of who I am, I suppose.

– But it still does affect, we have quite a lot of, since the GOG Galaxy launched, I mean I cannot tell you numbers. I would love to, but I cannot. It’s really impressive, like if you see how many people are logged in at any point into GOG Galaxy, it’s like really, really impressive.

– [Danny] Oh yeah, that must be a fun number to see as well. Like, just to be able to like, know that– – I have it here, but I cannot show it still, sorry. – [Danny] We should set up a mirror next time. (keyboard keys clicking)