ALTERNATIVE MUSINGS – Did GOG.com’s PR Stunt Succeed Or Go Too Far?

By Marty Mulrooney

GOG-tomb

One of AMO’s favourite digital download sites – GOG.com  – suddenly shut down last Sunday (19th September) without warning, leaving its community members feeling an immense sense of loss and confusion. Many customers were angry, whilst others claimed this news was merely a cleverly worded way of moving out of the site’s beta stage and celebrating GOG.com’s upcoming two year birthday. Thankfully, with new information made available to us via a recent live online press conference (which took place earlier this afternoon), AMO can now reveal that the latter is true and GOG.com’s death was indeed a hoax. But was this a genuinely clever PR stunt or one that went too far?

Dressed as monks, two of GOG.com’s founders presented the live conference, revealing several key facts about GOG.com’s re-launch and asking for forgiveness for their ‘sins’. Here is what I discovered from the broadcast:
 
  • There is still no DRM or download client.
  • GOG.com is NOT being sold to another company or Steam. They are back and believe they are “stronger and healthier than ever.”
  • The new website will be able to handle more users and offer faster downloads.
  • Windows 7 compatibility is an ongoing process, although over 150 games are already working 100%. Some ‘isolated cases’ still need addressing. Full compatibility a ‘key value’ and ‘obsession’ at GOG.com.
  • The site and front page have been redesigned with a brand new look:

new-GOG

  • A download calculator will let users know download times in advance.
  • The forums will be given a complete overhaul and simplified.
  • GOGmixes will allow you to create lists of recommended games and share your knowledge of games with other users. The monks claimed that “filters are boring.” They also suggested a GOGmix featuring the “sexiest female gaming characters.”
  • GOG.com doesn’t want to replace Steam, instead they want to be the “number one alternative.”
  • The new website will launch tomorrow (23rd September 2010) at 1pm GMT.
  • Classic RPG Baldur’s Gate (plus expansion pack) will be the new site’s debut launch title, selling for $9.99 with lots of extra goodies.
  • http://www.gog.com/ is now showing a countdown to the new website’s launch. Baldur’s Gate will be available right away.
  • The GOG.com team seem to realise that some users were upset by their PR stunt and have issued the following message:

First of all we would like to apologize everyone who felt deceived or harmed in any way by us closing down GOG.com without any warning and without giving access to your games. We apologize for that from the bottom of our hearts!

Now it’s time we put an end to all the speculations once and for all. It’s true that we decided that we couldn’t keep GOG.com the way it was… so we won’t. As you probably know by now, GOG.com is entering its new era with an end of the two-years beta stage and we’re launching a brand new GOG.com with new, huge releases.

  • GOG.com have a strong community focus and I doubt that they knowingly set out to upset their own community. You can read AMO’s recent interview with their PR man Lukasz Kukawski here.
  • More press information and videos will be released within the next few hours.

GOG.com have actually been very clever here. Although I feel that implying the site’s closure was slightly underhand, it is hard to deny that they have successfully grabbed everyone’s attention despite a low marketing budget. There were 600 people at the online conference and many major publications including PC Gamer have finally straightened up and taken notice.

So what do you think? A successful PR stunt or one that went too far? AMO would love to hear your thoughts!

Special thanks to freelance writer and games journalist (GameZone, HookedGamers) Stefanie Fogel for her help with screenshots and audio!

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