The problem every Steam competitor faces: Sunk costs. I’ve already spent untold numbers of dollars in Valve’s little marketplace. I’ve got hundreds of games, and Steam keeps them organized in one place and readily accessible, so why switch to another platform?
We’re basically hostages. Golden-handcuffed hostages.
So it makes sense that the next step for would-be Steam competitor GOG.com is to try and duplicate your games library. Today the retailer announced GOG Connect, a program that analyzes your Steam library and issues you duplicate GOG licenses for games you’ve purchased.
“Whether you’re checking us out for the first time or looking to copy over your previous purchases, GOG Connect gives you DRM-free versions of your games, along with digital extras and the freedom to choose between standalone installers or the optional GOG Galaxy Client. It’s our take on game ownership and we say: why buy the games more than once?”
Why buy the games more than once indeed? Though it’s currently more like “Why buy these twenty oddly specific games more than once?” Right now the pool of participating publishers is fairly small, with Deep Silver and Harebrained Schemes probably the two stand-outs. Even then, it’s select titles from each catalog—i.e. Deep Silver’s oh-so-generously offering to give you a duplicate license for the busted Saints Row 2 port, but hasn’t added Saints Row 3 or 4 yet.
More games are on the way, though. GOG designed this system as a revolving door of licenses (for whatever reason). It looks like the current crop expires in five days, after which we’ll presumably get a new batch of twenty. There's no word yet on whether you’ll need to log in every five days to take advantage or whether it’ll automatically add the appropriate licenses to your account.
It’s an interesting idea, regardless. GOG’s proved one of the only semi-viable Steam competitors, in part because it began with such a niche focus (Remember: It used to be “Good Old Games” back when they only sold the classics), but also because it hasn’t yet incurred people’s wrath. Make enough moves like this and maybe some small percentage of Steam’s users will switch.