GOG.com Set To Return, Marketing Stunt Confused Everyone

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GOG.com has finally revealed what was going on after speculation and downright confusion.

They are relaunching, leaving beta status and bringing in a slew of changes. Check after the jump for one of the most bizarre conferences ever, and my thoughts on the matter.

Two men appeared as monks, speaking to the camera, offering their “humble apologies”. Instead of outright apologising for being so vague about the abrupt closure, they claimed we didn’t get the joke since they left a number of hints. They confirmed that GOG is coming out of beta with a plethora of changes, all aimed at improving the service. They include:

– 98 percent new code
– six times faster
– six times more users
– recommendations
– better search options
– improved site design
– easier registration
– added community options

Despite all this, games will still be DRM-free and won’t require a client to download them.

The reason the site went down is due to “technical reasons” According to GameInformer, gamers couldn’t access their games over that time period, which is why it was shut down.

One can’t help but wonder if there is more to this story than meets the eye. During the time GOG was down, the shares of Optimus S.A. (GOG’s holding company) rocket up in value. Specifically in the region of 25%. However, the fact that GOG is back, and better than ever (Baldurs Gate with expansion pack and extras for $10!) is the most important thing here.

Another thing that GOG needs to consider is how many customers did they just lose? This stunt confirmed the fears of a digital distribution platform. What if, one day, the site goes down and thats that? So affirming the fears of the people who were concerned about this could not be good for business. That said, perhaps it was worth doing it so that they could get the new site out.

Heres the press release from GOG themselves, which appears on their new web page:

First of all we would like to apologize everyone who felt deceived or harmed in any way by us closing down GOG.com without any warning and without giving access to your games. We apologize for that from the bottom of our hearts!

Now it’s time we put an end to all the speculations once and for all. It’s true that we decided that we couldn’t keep GOG.com the way it was… so we won’t. As you probably know by now, GOG.com is entering its new era with an end of the two-years beta stage and we’re launching a brand new GOG.com with new, huge releases.

The new GOG.com will launch at 8.00 a.m. EDT (2 p.m. CET). Later today we’ll provide you here with 4 videos where you’ll find all needed information about the current events, as well as news on the new GOG.com, the upcoming big releases and the summary of the last two years.

This comes from PCGamer, where they explain why they pulled this marketing stunt:

“First of all we’d like to apologize to everyone who felt deceived or harmed in any way by the closedown of GOG.com. As a small company we don’t have a huge marketing budget and this why we could not miss a chance to generate some buzz around an event as big as launching a brand new version of our website.”

Thoughts? Personally, I feel that this was below the belt. I get that they don’t have much money to use on marketing, but they have a brilliant PR person who works for them and a simple press release, or free games to long term users/supporters, or anything that isn’t “sorry we’re closed, bye. OH WAIT IT WAS ALL A JOKE.” That is callous, and disrespectful to the thousands of customers who truly love the service.

Surely, they must have realised this little experiment had backfired in the worst of possible ways, and they should have gone on damage control mode to save credibility. Again, this is why they have a dedicated PR person. GOG.com has done such a good job in its particular niche, that this is unacceptable. Frankly, I feel we can and should expect more from GOG.

That all said, there may have been background issues we weren’t aware of, which forced GOG to do what they did. They claimed that they needed to take the site down to launch the new one, but plenty of sites who have undergone a makeover (like us, for example) haven’t needed to take down anything, and had the two versions of the site run concurrently. So that could be damage control nonsense that they are feeding us.

All in all, I’m glad GOG are back and stronger than before, with some big titles in the wings, but they pulled something really really stupid, and I hope for their sake that they had no control in the matter. Anyone one with an ounce of logic could have foreseen that it wouldn’t end well.

Source: RockPaperShotgun, GameInformer

Last Updated: September 23, 2010

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