Quest Updated: Good Guy GoG
Last week, I received the utterly amazing news that I could get Torchlight for FREE. Now I’d failed to get hold of the first game, and had only dipped into the sequel, and loved the setting and general aesthetic, as well as the gameplay innovations that made the experience different from Diablo and Titan Quest. Because, I mean, who doesn’t want to go dungeon crawling with a ferret in goggles!
When I saw on Twitter that the game was front-lining Good Old Games’s (GoG) summer sale with a 48 hour window period to grab it for free I nearly fell over. Not just from a toxic mixture of greed, excitement and general post-exam gaming withdrawal. There is more to it than just me and my bank balance.
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I mean, can you imagine Ster Kinekor saying: “Hey guys. You know how everyone loved The Avengers. Well we’re giving away the DVD for free. Enjoy!” This was a DRM-free, here-you-go-have-fun gesture from both GOG and Runic Games, who developed Torchlight and its sequel. It speaks volumes about a trend that excites me about the gaming industry more than any other. Because apart from the library, I can’t think of any place where you can just casually be given a work of art that will yield hours, nay, days of enjoyment for free, or a price cut so low that it may as well be free. Steam Sales, GOG’s Summer Sale, and the glorious Indie Royale and Humble Indie Bundle all show a face to the gaming industry I really admire.
The concept of the massive sale is awesome, but I still even more admire the Humble Indie Bundle and Indie Royale system. These frequently released bundles of indie games come pretty cheap to begin with. As they are downloaded more and more, the price changes. When you pay the minimum price, it climbs a little. Pay more, and it drops for all those who follow. And surprisingly, I often see some people go way above the asked price, just to benefit strangers across the world. It’s quite an amazing sign about how gamers themselves can work.
Right now, in the post-E3 reflection period, I think calling attention to these examples of fair trade and generosity by both developers, publishers, distributors and customers is vital. With DRM and other measures to control the consumption of games flying around, and especially the complaints about Microsoft that I certainly don’t need to recap by now, I think its worthwhile to point out that there are other ways of connecting to consumers and encouraging actual support for your products, especially in the indie market and with games that, while still full of win, are now old and many who didn’t purchase initially may have forgotten about entirely. Essentially, I like Marko in his last column, feel that too often the bottom line is the end goal for suits who don’t actually give a second’s thought to their consumers. When will gaming be about gamers? Well, these sales, bundles and other creative sorts of things show that, at least for a few, the gamers can come first for once.
This certainly isn’t some magic bullet that can stop piracy, or DRM and always-online, once-a-day-logon nonsense. What it is, is a sign that it isn’t all doom and gloom for the industry. I mean, this is why I tend towards the indie market anyway, and their gestures towards other ways of distributing and developing are just further bonuses. And with good-guys GoG and Runic, I see that some distributors are actually willing to take the plunge and try something that should be utterly crazy.
Now, how about some dungeon crawling?