GOG has a depressing history of being aggravating when it comes to game releases, from introducing a regional pricing structure for some new games that flies in the face of their former “one world, one price” stance (that was second only to their DRM-free stance) to being slow to release patches relative to Steam. The release of Divinity: Original Sin, however, has ratcheted their tendency to be aggravating up to an entirely new level of borderline-incompetence.
First, some back story. GOG recently announced an optional client called GOG Galaxy that allows customers access to online play and automatic patching similar to the Steam client, only minus its DRM. This sounds amazing, right? It certainly should, because it’s about as pro-customer as a client could possibly be.
At least, that’s what people believed. Divinity: Original Sin, despite being available as an Early Access title on Steam for a long time, was formally released on June 30th, 2014. Those who were waiting for it to release on GOG, however, were left waiting without any explanation for the delay. Hours later, a GOG employee explained that the game was being released later in the day, but only for Original Sin’s Kickstarter backers. For everyone else, said employee clarified that the game would be released with GOG Galaxy support on August 31st.
That’s right—if you didn’t back the Original Sin Kickstarter campaign, you’re unable to obtain a DRM-free copy on GOG until the end of August. The reasons behind this are still fuzzy; if the game’s single-player works well enough to be released for backers, why hold back the release until the end of August? “Because of the client” is the only answer that makes even a shred of sense. Of course, by the time the game actually releases on GOG, most people will have purchased the game on Steam. This is the most anti-competitive behavior GOG has ever shown, even more hilariously incompetent than when they allowed Steam versions of Witcher 2 (GOG parent company CD Projekt’s flagship game) to redeem their game on GOG, effectively acting as incentive to purchase the game on Steam so as to have two copies as opposed to just the one that a potential customer would have by buying on GOG.
It’s important to remember that the game is available on GOG for Kickstarter backers, so GOG Galaxy isn’t so interwoven with the game that it betrays GOG’s DRM-free principles, but delaying a game for two months for the sake of releasing it with the client is the kind of thing that leaves a bad taste in customers’ mouths. It isn’t just the act itself that’s causing its customers to unleash amusing levels of rage all over their forums, though, but rather the lack of communication. At no point in the run-up to Original Sin’s release was there any indication from GOG or Original Sin developer Larian that the game wouldn’t be released for everyone on the same day, causing many to miss out on a tempting discount on the Steam version during Steam’s recent summer sale with the expectation that they’d be picking it up on GOG soon, instead. This failure to communicate clearly with customers isn’t new for GOG, but it’s definitely one of the most bitter examples of that lack of communication blowing up in the face of their most loyal supporters.
Sadly, the only lesson that can be learned from all of this is that GOG, for all its virtues, is the absolute worst place to purchase new games from.
UPDATE: In response to the backlash, GOG has responded and promised to release the game within the next few days instead of August 31st as originally planned, confirming that the delay was on their end.