BREAKING: GOG.com Shuts Down, We Investigate [UPDATED]

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Today, GOG.com shut down without notice, leaving only a note on the front page detailing an ambiguous future, at best:

Dear GOG users,

We have recently had to give serious thought to whether we could really keep GOG.com the way it is. We’ve debated on it for quite some time and, unfortunately, we’ve decided that GOG.com simply cannot remain in its current form.

We’re very grateful for all support we’ve received from all of you in the past two years. Working on GOG.com was a great adventure for all of us and an unforgettable journey to the past, through the long and wonderful history of PC gaming.

This doesn’t mean the idea behind GOG.com is gone forever. We’re closing down the service and putting this era behind us as new challenges await.

On a technical note, this week we’ll put in place a solution to allow everyone to re-download their games. Stay tuned to this page and follow us on Twitter and Facebook for updates.

All the best,
GOG.com Team

This really is heart-breaking since GOG, for those who didn’t know, provided all there games without DRM, and you could make local back-ups on your machine just in case the site went down.

Apparently, the site died without warning to the active users, so people got cut off mid-download. When they shut the site’s functionality down, they weren’t kidding around.

However, despite the abruptness of the shut down, all hope is not lost. Tom Ohle, from Evolve PR, stated in his twitter account that “Doesnt mean GOG is gone! We’ll have some more info soon”. So something is changing somewhere.

[UPDATE: GOG posted this on their Twitter account today: “The official statement from GOG’s management about the situation will be announced soon. We’ll have more details about this tomorrow.” It looks like we’ll learn whats going on tomorrow.] [UPDATE 2: GOG’s homepage has been updated with the following: “First of all, we apologize everyone for the whole situation and closing GOG.com. We do understand the timing for taking down the site caused confusion and many users didn’t manage to download all their games. Unfortunately we had to close the service due to business and technical reasons. At the same time we guarantee that every user who bought any game on GOG.com will be able to download all their games with bonus materials, DRM-free and as many times as they need starting this Thursday. The official statement from GOG.com’s management concerning the ongoing events is planned on Wednesday.”

Check past the jump for some serious speculation.

According to GoG.com’s twitter account, the DRM-free functionality of GOG is causing hassles with publishers. This is curious since last week, they secured the license to distribute the Age of Wonders series. So someone big must have kicked up a fuss about the DRM situation.

Now this is where things get interesting. Optimus S.A, the company that merged with CD Projekt in 2009 (the company that made The Witcher) and subsequently GOG.com, has scheduled an extraordinary general meeting for this coming Wednesday. This was after it was confirmed that approximately 5.5% of the company will be sold to a unnamed private investor. This naturally sparked concerns regarding a possible takeover, however that is very unlikely since 5.5% isn’t enough to secure control of the company on its own. Unfortunately, this couldn’t be verified since I could not find an accurate list of current shareholders. All the Polish websites produced conflicting information regarding who controlled what percentage of the company. Optimus S.A’s corporate website detailed the two co-founders of CD Projekt as the primary shareholders with an equal 20% each, while a Polish financial site listed another bloke as a holder of around 50%, which is ridiculously unlikely.

Either way, 5.5% is not enough to takeover the company unless one of the co-founders with 20% is trying to screw the other one. And if the claim of someone owning 50% is accurate, then 5.5% is a drop in the ocean.

So, a take over is unlikely. Also, reading through the draft agreement of the EGM didn’t show any mentions of a takeover or change in ownership or control.

Optimus S.A posted a profit for the first half of this year, in contrast to the loss they posted last year. GOG.com is a good, constant revenue source, so closing it down in the wake of a take over is an illogical business decision since its a valid revenue stream that has little or nothing to do with its parent company. I would say 99.9% of GOG users even know its owned by CD Projekt, let alone Optimus S.A.

The only way it would make sense is if a competitor tried to get GOG through a take over, but which publisher would try to take over a multi-million holding company to get hold of one of their smaller revenue streams? Considering the cost to buy of a company, deal with the additional administration, restructure/re-appropriate staff, etc, it would be crazy to go through all that for a part of the revenue stream that you could just purchase straight up from the holding company. It doesn’t quite make sense.

Furthermore, the stock price of Optimus S.A shot up 9.5% on Friday, so something is definitely afoot there.

The following quote comes for the Polish financial site Bankier, translated by Google, so please excuse the broken English:

“The aim of the negotiation and conclusion by Optimus investment agreement was to acquire funding for projects within the group Optimus in connection with the planned development, a significant reduction in debt of the company to shareholders, to improve the group’s balance sheet structure and the possession of Optimus among akcjonariuszy Optimus professional instytucji Financial – the report says the company.

That could be construed as a very cookie cutter response from the company, so I’m not sure how much truth is contained in it. The only way we will be sure whats happening at the parent company is when the report of the EGM this Wednesday is released.

Naturally, this could just be GOG.com ending the beta through a bizarre marketing stunt, and the full release pops up soon, but the fact that there is some much happening at the parent company surely cannot be a simple coincidence.

Stay tuned for updates on the fate of this truly brilliant platform.

Last Updated: September 20, 2010

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