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GOG offers DRM-free versions of select Steam games at no cost

Steam is an incredible platform. Frequent sales, the workshop, refunds, cloud saves, and dozens of other smaller features come together to form a service that any company would be proud of. Unfortunately, there’s a downside: DRM. When you buy games on Steam, you’re locking yourself into that platform, and you have to abide by Valve’s restrictions. Thankfully, the folks at GOG.com have put together a clever solution that allows developers to offer DRM-free versions of their games for free to existing Steam users.

Dubbed “GOG Connect,” this new service scans your Steam library using the official Steam API, finds any applicable games, and allows you to import them into your GOG account. Your Steam copy remains, but you’ll now have access to the GOG version at no additional cost. As a consumer, there’s simply no downside to going through this process. Even if you continue to play the Steam version, you’ll still have a DRM-free version in your pocket if you ever change your mind.

Unsurprisingly, the service has been extraordinarily popular. That’s great news for GOG.com, but it also means that the account connection process is currently running at a snail’s pace. The service is so overwhelmed, in fact, users have been warned that it may take days before everything starts working properly.

GOG

Because an agreement has to be reached with the developers and/or publishers of each game on GOG Connect, not every title that’s available on both platforms will be supported. Still, 22 games are available for import right out of the gate. Beloved indie games like Braid, The Witness, VVVVVV, and FTL: Advanced Edition are a big part of this launch, but some older high-profile games like Saints Row 2, Unreal Tournament Game of the Year Edition, and The Witcher: Enhanced Edition are included as well.

Once you’ve gone through the import process, you’ll get to keep the games in your GOG library indefinitely. The games are only available for import for a limited time, but the GOG team will continue to work on signing new deals to add more games as time goes on. And since CD Projekt is the parent company of both GOG.com and CD Projekt RED, it’s safe to assume that The Witcher 2 and The Witcher 3 will both end up in the rotation eventually.

Keep in mind, there are policies in place to thwart bad behavior. If you import a game, and then turn around and ask for a Steam refund, GOG has the authority to remove that game from your account. And since the Steam API terms of service and the GOG user agreement are mandatory here, you might even face harsher penalties if you’re discovered exploiting the system. This is a nice consumer-friendly service — don’t ruin it by being a jerk.

From GOG’s point of view, this seems like an excellent way to grow the user base. As long as Valve‘s APIs allow for this to happen above the board, this is a solid strategy to bring in highly engaged potential customers. But from the perspective of developers and publishers, this seems like it could be a tough sell. Unless GOG.com is offering some kind of user acquisition bounty behind the scenes, goodwill is the only benefit publishers will receive. Let’s just hope enough companies are willing to play ball to keep GOG Connect alive and well beyond this initial launch period.

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