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October 2018
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GOG Celebrates 10 Years Of Competing With Piracy And Being DRM Free By Saying So

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In gamer circles, Good Old Games, or GOG, is everybody's favorite go-to retort whenever someone brings up the necessity for DRM. While the platform has always been something of a kid brother to Valve's Steam, GOG has made a name for itself by refusing to allow DRM on any titles it sells and, more importantly, being hyper-engaged with its customers and community and fostering that relationship by being genuinely open and human. What many people might not know, however, is that GOG first started in Europe, trying to figure out how to compete with piracy and the grey market long before it waged its war on DRM.Well, GOG is taking a moment to remind everyone of that fact while celebrating its 10 year anniversary.

The GOG.COM story began in Poland, 1994 – a time and place where bootlegging reigned supreme and legal games were a luxury that few could afford. These were the early days of CD PROJEKT – back then specializing in local retail distribution, but the job wasn't easy. After all, how do you compete with the grey market?Our answer was to offer value that gamers were already used to and then some: beloved games in big beautiful boxes packed with goodies, professional localization, and prices that are simply reasonable. And it worked!
It did indeed. In fact, the story of GOG's anniversary is the story of one platform successfully competing with free, with a much bigger competitor, and having to drag wary publishers that might be scared off of the anti-DRM stance along for the ride... for ten years. For a decade now, GOG has built a business that started and is still largely centered around retro-games that are easily pirated in the video game industry of all places, where customers are far more likely to know the methods for piracy than in other industries. And, yet, here they are, retelling how it filled the market for retro-games by assuming many people actually still wanted developers to be rewarded for great game-making.
Good Old Games launches in open beta as a legal way to support classics at affordable prices. No longer abandoned, all games would come with tech support and sorcery to get them running on modern PCs. Every game stuffed with goodies and bonus content that tickles our inner collectors. Everything would be DRM-free – it's only fair after all, and it captures that feeling of ownership on your digital shelf.
And it was both that catering to the public demand for valid and working versions of these games, and of course the stripping out of frustrating DRM, that built up GOG's loyal following. It was merely a few years later when GOG was the platform for several major title day 1 releases, all of which had to follow the anti-DRM "ideology", as GOG puts it. That there is an honest to God DRM-free option is the full response to any publisher that insists DRM is must-have.

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posted at: 12:47am on 05-Oct-2018
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Can We Make Congress Less Dumb About Technology?

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Earlier this week, a bunch of organizations -- including Techdirt's own sister organization, the Copia Institute -- announced the launch of a new project, called Future Congress. It's a coalition of organizations, some of whom rarely agree on anything with some of the other members. It is made up of organizations with a variety of political viewpoints and policy ideas. But, this coalition does agree one one thing: we need to stop Congress from being so damn clueless about technology.For many years, we've talked about the unfortunate decision by a Newt Gingrich-led Congress back in the mid-90s to dismantle the Office of Technology Assessment (or OTA). This was the organization that was a non-partisan, careful think tank focused on providing useful technology briefings to anyone in Congress who needed it. And yet, just as technology was becoming central to our every day lives, Congress defunded it (technically, the office still exists on the books, but it has no funding and no staff). Over the years there have been many calls to bring OTA back, and every so often someone in Congress floats a bill... which always gets shot down (the latest was just a few months ago).The goal of the Future Congress coalition is to try to convince Congress to fix this -- for its own good. For many, many, many years now, we've highlighted how every time there's a hearing related to issues regarding technology, nearly all of our elected officials come off looking totally clueless to a degree that is outright embarrassing. They could easily fix this -- in a way that will both stop making them look clueless in front of the world and likely lead to better policy outcomes. Hopefully, they realize this.I will note that last month there were some baby steps towards this, with Congress putting some language into an appropriations bill that fund a study of reviving the OTA while also moving to let the GAO take on some of the work that OTA used to do. It's unclear if this will actually survive or do very much, and Congress should be willing to step up and do much more. Hopefully, this Future Congress coalition will help make it clear to Congress why it should stop being so ignorant on technology -- especially when it has the means to better educate itself.

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