ANDR01D writes PC game reviews and shares his views on the video game industry.
I was quite perplexed to see that on Destructoid, there was a piece written a while ago in which the author claimed that they would rather have Steam DRM than no DRM, and this specifically seemed to pit two giants in the digital distribution realm against each other: Steam and GOG.com.
It’s true: Some people would rather use Steam than just about anything else. I have actually come to like Steam over time, but for several years, I absolutely loathed it and saw it as pointless and annoying.
Truth be told, I would much rather buy a game on GOG.com than anywhere else, even if it means that I have to pay more for it. And here are the reasons why:
12 Reasons Why GOG Is Better Than Steam
- No regional restrictions
- No regional pricing
- No DRM
- No client
- You get so much more for your money
- Many discounts
- Better customer support
- Updates aren't mandatory
- Better compatibility
- More privacy
1. No regional restrictions
Regional restrictions simply exist in order that the publisher of the game gets the best price and maximises their profit, because some regions like Russia get games very cheap compared to elsewhere in the world – and the publisher doesn’t like that.
So this means that some countries will be able to buy certain games and others won’t. Look at Green Man Gaming for instance: I live in SA and cannot buy any EA games there, without resorting to using a VPN or a proxy, which I don’t want to do, because that will probably result in an account ban at the very least.
Places like Amazon and GameFly are even worse, because they won’t let anyone outside the USA buy anything digital. Of course there are ways around this as well with Amazon, but it involves committing fraud. GameFly flat out won’t let me create an account. Almost every other digital distributor has regional restrictions of some sort, but GOG.com doesn’t. That’s reason number 1 why I like it so much.
2. No regional pricing
Reason number 2 is because they don’t have regional pricing. GOG was going to introduce it on a few select new titles, but then after a noticeable community backlash, they decided to hold off on these plans, and I applaud them for it. It meant that they wouldn't be able to strike a deal with publishers to get those games on GOG, but I think it's more important to maintain a good relationship with your customers.
Having said that, The Witcher 3 has regional pricing, but they make up for it by giving people a partial rebate in the form of store credit.
The practice of regional pricing is also evident on many digital distributors’ websites, and is universally hated, especially by those in the UK, Europe, and Australia. So almost everywhere, really. GOG just has a standard, fair price for everyone, and GOG now lets you select which currency you would like to pay in too.
3. No DRM
Thirdly, and most importantly (and probably most obviously), there’s never any DRM packaged with a game or movie from GOG.com.
When I purchase a title, I own it, I can download it as many times as I please, and I can back it up to whichever media suits me, whether it be a flash drive or CD, or DVD. I stress the word “own” because I actually own the game, and not a licence for the game that can be revoked at any time for any reason. Even if in some unlikely event, my GOG account were to be banned, as long as I had downloaded the game, I’d still have access to it. And the last time I heard of a GOG account ban... I don't think I ever have.
With Steam, your games are tied to your account, and only games that are launcher-free that can be played outside of Steam, can be backed up and run without the client. Games that are dependent on the client would be lost in the case of an account ban. Some even report that if you don’t log into your Origin account at least once every year or so you will lose all DLC for your games, and if you don’t own any premium games, your account can be shut down completely after 2 years of inactivity.
4. No client
Games can be downloaded in a few ways. There is no GOG.com client as of yet (and if there ever were one, it would most certainly be optional), but an optional downloader is available. With this you can group all separate file downloads (big games are often broken up into separate downloadable files, in case one of them ends up being corrupt so you don’t have to download the whole game again) into one download, and this goes for all extras for that game too, like manuals, avatars, etc. If, however, you do not wish to use the downloader for whatever reason, you can just download through your browser or use a download manager of your own, like FDM – there’s no download resume with these methods though.
Update: as of June 2014, it has been revealed that there will indeed be a GOG.com client, and its name is Galaxy. It's completely optional to use, much like Desura's client.
Comparison Chart of Popular Game Distributors
|Distributor||Client||DRM||Regional Restrictions||Regional Pricing|
Yes (optional, not yet available)
No (Steam keys if available)
Green Man Gaming
Yes (USA only)****
Yes (USA only)****
Yes (USA only)****
Yes (USA only)****
Yes (South America only)
No (Steam keys if available)
Yes (South Africa only)
* No native client, but some games might require activation on a third party client. ** Has a native client, but not all games available use it (they might require activation using a third party client). *** Not all games available utilise DRM or launchers. **** Not available anywhere outside the US. ***** Exists on some games, but with GOG's fair price package you will receive a rebate in store credit. ****** Is only available in certain regions, and nowhere else, so only specific currency is accepted
Note that GameStop had a native client called Impulse, but it was discontinued in April 2014.
5. So much more for your money
Games owned in your GOG.com account come with a lot of extras too – extras like soundtracks that you would often have to either pay more for a collector’s edition of sorts to receive, or purchase separately from other digital distributors. Even game expansions are included in some cases, and if they aren’t yet, sometimes select titles are upgraded to feature these packs, and customers who bought the titles before the upgrade get the new added items free of charge.
GOG games, much like on Steam (Steamplay), are available for multiple platforms, including Microsoft Windows, Mac, and even Linux. Other distributors out there will list games according to which operating system they are for, and sell them separately.
I do like the fact that if you own a game or several games in a series, then you receive discount on the remaining others when buying them, or even if you buy an entire series all at once. And if you already own a game or two in the series and buy all the other games at once, GOG.com doesn’t make you buy the game(s) you already have.
Steam would basically make you pay for the entire series and wouldn’t even give you a gift copy of the game you already own in most cases.
7. Better customer support
GOG has better customer support than most distributors. I wouldn’t say it’s the best, but it’s better than Steam and Origin for sure.
With Origin you can’t even email them a query. You are forced to do a live chat or phone them. With Steam, you are usually just redirected to the troubleshooting guide or to the developer/publisher’s website. To get a hold of an actual person is a lot tougher apparently.
With GOG, you can contact support without much hassle, and they can offer you refunds or an exchange for store credit or a gift voucher if you don’t like the game you’ve bought, even after the initial 30 day guarantee period as long as you haven't downloaded anything belonging to the game(s) on your shelf, and they offer other services too like splitting gift purchases, so you get one key per game instead of having one key for several. This is handy when you buy a bunch of games all at once, instead of buying them separately.
8. Updates aren’t mandatory to download and install
While the game installers are indeed up to date on the server at the time you download them, if any further updates are issued, you are notified, and they are not mandatory to download and install, and separate patches will sometimes be included in your list of downloads for the game, rather than having to download the entire game again, but honestly you usually do have to re-download.
With Steam, you can set it to not update games automatically, but you still do need to update games before you can play them.
9. Better compatibility
Better compatibility is also likely, especially with older games, and there’s less risk in buying games through GOG.com than anywhere else, because you have a 30 day guarantee. If the game doesn’t work and support isn’t able to help, then you get a refund, and the game is taken out of your library, even if you’ve downloaded it and still have the installer.
It could also be said seeing as there’s no client with GOG, there’s less that can go wrong. Have you ever had issues while trying to install Steam or Origin or update them? I have, and it usually involves disabling or completely uninstalling your anti-virus software (something I don’t like doing on a PC that is connected to the internet), or updating your graphics card drivers, which can be difficult if there are no updates in the case of using legacy drivers for an old GPU, which in essence means you have to get a new GPU or even a new computer – just because Steam won’t run on it.
10. More privacy
You get complete profile privacy. Nobody can view your account and what games you own. Nobody can check your post history in the forum – people can search for your account handle in the forum and see what comes up – if your name has been used, then it will appear in search.
True, Steam allows to to set your profile to private, but if you want to make use of certain features, like a rewards program offered by a reseller, then you have to make your profile public. Seeing as they use clients that install on your system, there are also privacy concerns with Steam, Origin, and Uplay too. At one time it was claimed that Origin scanned your entire PC, with many speculating that it was looking for illegally gained EA games, and that if they were found, the authorities would be alerted! And there is no choice to opt out of having Origin relay information back to EA either. At least there is a choice with Steam.
And with GOG, no personal information is saved when paying. Steam, Green Man Gaming and virtually every other distributor online will make you save a billing address, which is essentially your street or mailing address. GOG.com doesn't store this. You only ever have to fill in required fields like name, card number, security code, and the date of expiry.
I like it that if you buy a game as a gift and give it to someone else, and they have one or more of the games in the gift link, they can activate only the ones they don’t have if they want to. Even if they don’t own any of the games, they can still choose to only redeem the ones they want. So then that same link can be used again until all the games in it have been redeemed.
While some publishers have shown some dislike or are at least indifferent towards GOG.com (*cough* Bethesda! *cough*), others have shown increasing interest in getting their games on GOG. So much so, that you’ll often find games that are exclusive to GOG that aren’t sold anywhere else – and interestingly enough, other distributors at times use GOG’s installer for a game, too – most likely to ensure compatibility with their games. It’s not just old games anymore, but indie games and even some AAA titles in a publisher’s back catalogue. I think it stands to reason that there is a market out there comprised of gamers who don’t want to deal with DRM and other things that can ruin their day, and even after a game has done the rounds everywhere else, there is still some profit to be made for everyone involved on GOG.
GOG is Steam’s main competitor in a lot of ways, whereas most other distributors aren’t really rivals – they work together with Steam, and all they are in essence is Steam resellers. A lot of the games they sell involve being given a key to activate on Steam. GOG doesn’t ever do this. There’s no doubt though that GOG is the underdog, and that’s a huge reason why I love it.
What GOG Could Improve
So GOG isn’t perfect. Nothing and nobody ever is. There are a few things I would like to see GOG work on, and in doing so they would become even better than they already are.
1. Game prices
Some might argue that the base price of a game (the lowest is $5.99) is too high. Some games are overpriced, and the sale prices aren’t always that spectacular either. You can often get the same games cheaper elsewhere.
I don’t like the way that games are bundled together sometimes. For instance, they put Commandos 2 and Commandos 3 in a bundle for sale instead of selling them separately. On Steam you can buy them individually, so guess who got my money? That’s right, Steam did – because I only wanted Commandos 2 and not Commandos 3 (which I ended up buying later on anyway along with the rest of the series because it went stupidly cheap).
Then when I do want games bundled, they aren’t, like the Jagged Alliance series. Currently on GOG.com, you have to buy Jagged Alliance 2 and Unfinished Business separately, and the same goes for Jagged Alliance and Jagged Alliance: Deadly Games too. Okay, so if you don’t want both, that’s fine, but if you do want both, it’s hell to get them because they’re technically by different publishers, so they are rarely ever in the same sale if it’s organised by publisher (which it often is) – and that is annoying.
I’d say that GOG.com should sell games separately and people can bundle games themselves at checkout if they want to.
3. Missing expansions and incomplete series
It kind of sucks that some series are incomplete, or games are missing expansions and other goodies. And to add to that, they’re immensely slow at adding other games from a publisher’s catalogue.
4. More freeware games
GOG should have more freeware games like Desura offers, like Tiberian Sun or Daggerfall, and have installers and support for games that are very difficult to run otherwise. They should also consider hosting free standalone games like The Dark Mod and S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Lost Alpha.
5. More free game giveaways
Chalk it up to greed, but everyone likes free games, and other distributors like Green Man Gaming and Origin are now giving away free games every month or at least every other month, and it has done wonders for Origin's reputation. You might get one or two a year with GOG if you’re lucky.
6. Offer game demos
GOG.com should seriously consider having demos of games up on their website so people can try them before they buy, and obviously these demos should be optimised to run on modern operating systems too. Sometimes screenshots and trailers aren’t enough.
7. Rewards program
Some other distributors have programs which reward a person with store credit for referring other people, or writing reviews, and the like. Some even boast a rewards program just for playing games.
8. A more accessible affiliate program
At one stage, users had to contact GOG directly to apply to get into their affiliate program, where they can be paid a commission for referring sales. There is evidence that they are working on making this easier for people to get into, with a redesign of their affiliate program portal.
9. More payment options
Right now it’s credit card or PayPal. I’d like to see at least see a prepaid payment option of some sort introduced, and if store credit functionality is ever featured on GOG, much like they themselves have hinted at (this could go hand in hand with a rewards program), then users could effectively work for their games if they can’t afford to pay for them.
Update: as of August 2014, they have introduced some more payment options, but they really cater to those in Europe and nowhere else.
10. Do away with anonymous forum repping
The forums have been plagued by an influx of trolls in the past few months, and so I’d like to see forum repping anonymity done away with. It is damaging morale to some extent, because I've seen people asking how they can close their accounts in the forums, and that it is obviously bad for business. If someone reps or downreps someone, then the person being repped should be able to see who it is, and a reason must be given for why the rep is being handed out. Also, restrictions on rep must be enforced, so someone can only give somebody else so much rep (whether negative or positive) in one day.
11. Expanding their catalogue
This might sound harsh, but other distributors get new games on a regular basis. It probably is down to just how difficult it seems to be for GOG to negotiate a deal, especially with bigger publishers, but in a few years their list of games has grown, and I’d like to see it grow more and more over time to the point where it can easily match most other digital distributors’ catalogues. Oh, and while we like AAA and indie titles, we love the website for what it was created for in the first place GOG: old games. Get more of those too.
12. Offer keys for other no DRM services like Desura
GOG claims that due to the no DRM nature of their website, they will not offer keys for Steam, Origin, or Uplay. But Desura is also a no DRM website, and Desura often offers GOG keys for their games if they are indeed sold on both stores, so why not offer Desura keys for some select titles?
13. Make games even more compatible
Currently quite a few games that are bought through GOG.com just use a customised version of DosBox in order to run. So this might be disappointing to someone who say, has the game but it doesn't work on his or her system -- they go and buy the GOG version only to find that it runs off of third party software that they could have downloaded and run themselves and possibly have gotten their retail copy of the game to work.
Also, I don't know why they rely on DosBox so much, seeing as there are better alternatives to it, like source ports. Surely if Steam can get working source ports for some of their older games, then GOG.com can do it too?
© 2014 ANDR01D
VKII on August 29, 2018:
The only reason I need is that DRM free, having the complete game to install it whenever and wherever I want. But also it has the best customer service I ever tested, maybe Blizzard is similar.
SortingHat on September 26, 2017:
Gog.com won't accept regular gift cards. Amazon does with no problem and so does Steam (despite the fact both have their own gift cards too just for that service).
When using Gog it will just say "Error on card" while it goes thru with Amazon and Steam just fine with not a single hiccup.
Meh on September 11, 2017:
I had my GOG account and my Steam account destroyed, last year couldn't be happier.
GOG is perhaps the worst of the two services, they really don't care about their community. Steam cares allot except they don't care about unhappy gamers, leaving Steam is a science but it can be done.
GOG also trolls people for leaving, by using damned avatars calling you out and name tags just to annoy you. Like a bunch fifth graders that act like you won't find a better service. Their support is mostly invisible, if you don't believe that try returning a games before the 30 days are up.
At least with Steam you can return crap that is obviously loaded crap. And you get your money back instead of a finger.
moderntimes player on February 03, 2017:
Sadly I must say, that nowadays GOG hast different prices in different regions, it has regionaly locks for Germany only (((
and there will be client which you cyn but must not use.
DonkeyKongKiller from Texas on January 09, 2017:
While everything you said about GOG appeals to me and I have used it for some classic games, I feel too invested in Steam at this point to make the switch. My current large library of games, the frequent Steam sales, and the huge library the store offers, makes me fairly satisfied with them despite the DRM crap. Steam has stated that in the case of a steam shutdown in the future, they would allow users to download their library DRM free, which is reassuring, but begs the question...why not allow this feature today rather than a possibility in the future? It shows a lack of customer focus, because even though I can currently pirate steam games with cracks and everything, I still pay for the games legitimately. Pirates will steal the game whether there's DRM or not, so the only ones it screws over are paying customers.
Alex on December 31, 2016:
Regional pricing is not hated. There are poor countries with salaries like 1/4 of US. Some even lower. Expecting everyone to pay the same price is not only unfair but also very stupid.
Regional pricing is actually smart. It reduces the piracy rate of those countries and makes profit for developers from places it couldn't sell before.
chats on December 13, 2016:
biggest drawback of GOG is no regional/fair pricing. Its stupid to expect everyone around the world should pay same price as US price where they put a lot of money in advertising and server maintenance. i have never seen a single ad or a dedicated server in my country and i have to pay full price of US. dumb. steam is awesome. GOG wont do it because people will cry to make themselves feel good that they bought an expensive game.
Caio on October 22, 2016:
I don't buy on GOG BECAUSE there is NO REGIONAL PRINCING. Regional princing is not universally hated. People on poorest contries can only buy when there is regional princing.
ego0720 on September 02, 2016:
I have a huge backlog of both GOG and Steam. My concern is in 10 years, or 20 years.. what happens when either company files Chapter 11? With GOG, you get the piece of mind that you can backup your copy even if GOG goes. With Steam, although I believe Gabe Newell will do everything he can to give customers what they purchased for, will likely not be in control of the softwares that Valve did not create. That's left to the developers I think. In short, I have spent hundreds of dollars on Steam. I am not confident when I retire (and likely when I could play them) that they would be there. I have my GOG games backed up on blu-ray in case I need it. Unfortunately, STEAM does offer many newer games than GOG. I only wish GOG had more games. But I will always support GOG. I avoid purchasing on STEAM when it's available on both platform. If you can enjoy the games now, I'd say Steam is better. If you have a backlog of games and you're just hoarding games because they are on sale, I say stick with GOG. Only then you can backup your stuff.. as they should be.
Scribbling Geek from Singapore on June 10, 2016:
I can't say that I prefer GOG to Steam. But in terms of functional packages for old 80s/90s games, GOG certainly has an edge.
Samuel Franklin on September 05, 2015:
I think you would find it hard to find a gamer that doesn't love GOG!
Anonymous person on August 26, 2015:
I'm starting to hate Steam as well. I think they're monopolizing Linux with Steam OS too.
Biggest problem is running games without Steam getting in the way. For example, if I run the game directly in the steamapps folder, it launches Steam just so that the game can run. Why do I have to leave Steam running in the background? What does that crap do? Why can't I just literally run the game without Steam? Stupid!
Managed to find many cracks for my Steam games (wait are they really mine?), and most of them work. This way I can actually run the game without Steam running in the background doing stuff I'm not aware of (like Cloud sync). Except I can't seem to find a crack for "Witcher 2".
GOG.com became known to me while searching for "Witcher 2" cracks to avoid Steam. Thankfully, GOG.com provides a free backup copy for Steam users; hooray!! I'm going to probably start using GOG from now since it just seems so much better. All I need is a simple catalog, not a claustrophobic pile of DRM, manipulative Cloud syncing and other stupid junk that gets in the way of the game I want to play after buying it. I play offline mainly and Steam has imposed on me in the worst way about it. Also, sometimes if you buy a game on retail disc it still will download the game instead of installing from disc; stupid! Offline mode still forces you to stay online on Steam too.
If I have to use Steam and unofficial cracks just to avoid Steam constantly running in the background with a internet connection, I might as well download illegal copies instead of buying the games since Steam is so ludicrously unfair to offline gamers.
FistMarine on July 05, 2014:
I love GOG.COM, it's the best site to purchase digital copies of games. As you mentioned, there is no DRM, meaning you OWN the game and you can make many backup copies of that game, unlike Steam where you own license to a game, can't make backup copies of that game and later they suspend your account for absolutely no reason (happened to me, luckily game I got was a gift from friend but I still feel a bit sad after that event) and you lose the game(s) you "own". I also fucking hate how some developers decide to put Steam on psychical copies of the games, which renders them useless. You might as well throw that game in the garbage bin after you activated it. Why can't there be more games on GOG.COM? Why everyone likes Steam so much? I think it's a steaming pile of shit who scams people into buying their games, only to have their accounts suspended later and lose all the money they paid on games. I can't believe there are so many steam supporters. Sure, steam has also its own pros but I found much more cons than pros, such as fucking DRM on psychical copies! Once again I apologize for bursting but I hate Steam with a passion. BTW I voted for first option, I love GOG so much. Hope in next few years, GOG will start getting more games.
J Antonio Marcelino from Illinois, USA on June 23, 2014:
It's a great site. I wouldn't have known where else to buy Wing Commander 3 and 4 if the site didn't have it. They're having a summer sale right now. Rotates through a lot of the same games so if you miss a title on one day it may reappear later that night or the next day.
Shawn Morris from Huntington, West Virginia on May 17, 2014:
GOG is great. I love being able to buy some of the classic games I love from there. I also similarly love Steam for the modern game catalog and for Steam Workshop.
I doubt GOG could ever use source ports though, because that requires that they have the source code for the games they're putting up and it's simply not available for most games. It would be good to see something that's better integrated with the games, though. Perhaps their own proprietary emulator?