GOG is best known for its library of classic games — it was originally called Good Old Games — but last year the company announced a new venture that would put it in direct competition with PC gaming behemoth Steam. Called GOG Galaxy, the service is an online gaming platform that includes Steam-like community features and tools like auto-updates to keep your games up to date without any hassle. But the key selling point is that Galaxy includes these features while still ensuring every game can be played offline with no DRM. It was originally supposed to launch last year, but today the platform is finally available in open beta so you can try it out.
"We want it to be so good that you'll actually want to use it."
Galaxy's social features include things like a friends list, in-game chat, and achievements, and select games will even support cross-platform multiplayer, so that you can play with your friends whether they bought the game from GOG or Steam. GOG is keen to boast that all of the added features are entirely optional; auto-updates, for example, can be turned off or reversed if a patch happens to break a game. "Making it optional is the best motivation for us to make it better," says VP of online technologies Piotr Karwowski. "We want it to be so good that you'll actually want to use it." The service will also let you download a local, DRM-free version of any game you own to keep as a backup.
According to GOG, the service currently has a library of more than 1,000 games, with plans to expand that significantly, particularly when it comes to big-budget blockbusters. The first big game to support the platform will be The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, which will be coming out on May 19th. "We're getting ready to release and fully support even more AAA titles in the future," says Karwowski. GOG Galaxies is open beta now on both Windows and Mac, and you can sign up for it right here.