GOG Galaxy beta released

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Since it’s launch in 2003, Valve’s digital game platform, Steam, has been the king of the hill on PC. It led the way in providing a service for gamers that let them not only buy games, but play them online, manage their libraries, chat and watch friends, and it’s all very convenient, to boot. It would be hard to argue that Steam also forced the hand of the likes of Sony and Microsoft to step up the quality of what Xbox LIVE and PlayStation Plus offered. And it has remained completely free, supported by the store’s income.

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Over the years, alternative online game stores have come along, but none have quite made the splash that GOG.com has managed: back when it first appeared, Good Old Games (as it was known) offered a decent library of classic and indie games you could buy, all completely DRM free. The service was set up by CD Projekt, the company behind the Witcher series of games (incidentally, The Witcher 3 is just about to come out and looks very pretty!). Since then, GOG has has become a titan in its own right, and has taken the next steps to dominating your desktop with GOG Galaxy, a desktop application much like Steam’s.

What’s it like?

GOG Galaxy is still in early open beta, and so far they’ve updated it pretty much daily. Currently, it’s available for Windows and OS X, but the FAQ says there’s also a Linux version on the way, with no ETA as of yet. I’ve been running the app for a few days now on my MacBook Pro, and barring some CPU and battery overhead, it’s a slick application that sort of fuses the functions of Steam with the clean lines of a modern design. The app has a store front (as you’d expect), a library to manage your installed games and a friends list to keep in contact and play with those closest to you. There’s also a growing list of extras and upcoming features they’re working on.

  • One-click install Prefer convenience? Install any GOG.com game with a single click, and it will forever stay up to date. As soon as the game is installed, it’s ready to play.
  • Backup copy download Want to backup your purchases? We get it. For all games, you can download a DRM-free backup installer that you can save to an external disk, drive or cloud.
  • Offline support It’s up to you when and how to play your games. GOG Galaxy will always work without an internet connection, and so will your games.
  • Rollback (soon) Sometimes game updates break things. Thanks to the built-in Rollback feature, you can restore your game to prior states with just a single click.
  • Optional auto-updates Don’t like being forced to update? In GOG Galaxy you can turn off auto-updating for any game and receive notifications when new updates are available.
  • Multiplayer & matchmaking GOG Galaxy-powered multiplayer games offer matchmaking and online play. In new and classic games alike, meet other players and make friends… or enemies.
  • Achievements Complete challenges laid out by the developers, experience more of the game, win bragging rights or just do it for the sake of your inner completionist.
  • Game-time tracking & stats For nearly every GOG game you can now track your play time. Additionally, select GOG Galaxy-powered games will offer extra stats or in-game leaderboards.
  • Crossplay Crossplay-enabled games offer online play between GOG and Steam. Because where you buy your games shouldn’t prevent you from playing with friends.
  • Game overlay (soon) See notifications for new messages, requests or achievements, check on your progress and chat with friends… All that without leaving the game.
  • Friends list Add people you like to your friends list. With a single click you will see if they’re online, what are they playing, start a new chat or invite them to a game.
  • Online chat Our new chat is not limited to the Client. No matter if your friends are on GOG Galaxy or on the GOG website, you can chat with them in real time.
  • Game inviting & joining (soon) Enjoy playing games with great company? Galaxy-powered multiplayer games will allow you to invite friends from the game, or to join their games from the Client.
  • Choose your features Don’t like achievements or chat? Just as the Client is optional, so are its features. Turn off the ones you don’t care about, leaving only what’s important to you.
  • Privacy We deeply respect our users, so we’ve also built GOG Galaxy to respect your privacy. We don’t track your personal data… we don’t even look for it.
  • App notifications (soon) Keep the Client running and you’ll be first to know whenever your wishlisted game is discounted, or when a new friend, game or chat invite is received.
  • Constantly optimised We believe that the client application should be as lightweight as possible, and with every version we will do our best to decrease its CPU and memory footprint.
  • Always optional Beyond all these features, the Client will never be mandatory. That’s great motivation for us – we want to make it so good, you’ll actually want to use it.

I’d happily use it as a hub for my gaming needs. In fact, it kind of puts Steam to shame, highlighting just how much the rival platform needs a serious update… But that’s a story for another time, I think! If you’re looking to buy games like the LucasArts classics or even pick up . It feels a bit lonely on there, so if you’re looking to boost your friends list, feel free to add me: happydan. Grab the beta of GOG Galaxy for OS X and Windows and give it a try.

What do you think of it?

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About Dan Morse

From the Atari 2600 right through to bleeding fast PCs, Dan's played on them all. One thing that's never changed is an unwavering passion for video games. Twitter: @happydan | Steam: happydan | GOG: happydan