GOG (formerly Good Old Games) launched back in 2008 as a one-stop shop for older titles without any DRM restrictions. Over the past few years, the service has transformed into a would-be Steam competitor. The GOG Galaxy service went into beta last year as a combined store, social media hub, and software delivery service, but with the same focus on delivering games sans DRM. Steam dominates the world of PC digital distribution, but GOG just introduced a unique feature that could endear it to modders and players alike — the ability to forego patches and updates.
Steam, Origin, and uPlay all offer ways to prevent games from updating, either by disconnecting your entire account from the Internet (assuming a game doesn’t require its own validation) or by choosing, title-by-title, not to update the game when an update is available. None of these services, however, actually offer an option to roll back to an earlier version of the game. Backing up a game in Steam doesn’t bestow this capability, either — if you make a copy of your files and later attempt to restore them, you’ll be prompted to verify the installation online and the game won’t launch until it has finished updating the original backed up version.
“We know that patches can occasionally break a game or affect your mods,” Piotr Karwowski, GOG’s vice president of online tech, said in a statement. “With the newest update to GOG Galaxy, we’re giving our users more control over their games and patches, but also addressing many of the top requests from our community.”
Other improvements to the still-beta service include a streamlined navigation system, better performance, support for high-resolution displays, the ability to pause and resume installations, and the aforementioned “Rollback” feature. GOG doesn’t mention if taking this option consumes additional hard drive space, but it could — GOG may copy files locally to speed the recovery process. Alternately, the game service could track updated files and re-download only the initial versions to restore a title to full functionality.
It’s not clear how this new capability would play with some of the updates we’ve seen from time to time on other services. About a year ago, Rockstar courted controversy when it updated theSteam version of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas to remove 17 songs that had previously been licensed for the game. While the company likely did this due to an expired license agreement, consumers were angry that versions of the game they purchased months or years before had content unceremoniou sly stripped out. In theory, GOG’s new patch-dodging feature would block such maneuvers by Rockstar for gamers who chose to keep the song libraries that shipped with the title. Then again, some companies might not be willing to work with the service without being able to control customer access to such content.
Either way, it’s a good time to check out GOG, if you never have.