It’s been a while since we last heard about GOG’s PC gaming service, but apparently things are marching along as today GOG Galaxy is finally going public -- though still in beta form. The move comes in anticipation of the launch of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, which will be the debut game on the new platform.
GOG Galaxy will compete with Steam, Origin and other PC gaming clients. But while it shares some similarities with them, like consolidating your games into a single library, keeping them up to date, and adding a social element with chat and achievements, it’s also fundamentally different in a few significant ways.
For one thing, everything is optional. You don’t even need the Galaxy client in order to play GOG purchased games. You can also you can opt out of automatic updates for your games and keep playing them -- something Steam and Origin don’t allow -- and if you do decide to apply a patch and it ends up breaking the game for you, Galaxy will let you roll back to the previous working version.
Users are also free to download a standalone, DRM-free backup copy of every game for offline play as well as keeping purchases safe. This DRM-free policy is something the company has been championing since the very beginning with its retro PC games store, formerly known as Good Old Games.
Other features include online and matchmaking, while select titles also support cross-play between gamers on GOG.com and Steam.
The company says that making everything optional is the best motivation for making the Galaxy desktop client better: “We want it to be so good that you’ll actually want to use it." Even if the cynical in you sees that as a marketing angle, the end result is still a better service and more freedom for gamers.
GOG Galaxy currently has a library of more than 1,000 games and the company is working to get more big-budget blockbusters. You can sign up for the open beta for Mac or Windows here; Linux support is coming “soon.”