The Witcher Dev's GOG.com Adds DRM-Free Movies to Its Lineup
20 documentaries about gaming and geek culture now available; first two are free.
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The latest addition to The Witcher developer CD Projekt Red's digital distribution service, GOG.com, is not an exciting new game, but rather an entirely new medium: film. The Polish company today announced that a selection of feature-length movies are now available through GOG.com, beginning with 20 documentaries about gaming and geek culture.
As you might expect, all movies (and eventually TV shows) offered through GOG.com will be completely DRM-free. It's all part of GOG's ambition to give people the freedom to collect movies--just like they do with games--and do with them what they want without limitations. You can expect full freedom of ownership with the movies you buy from GOG; you get the file and it's yours to do with what you will.
"The retail environment [for movies] is dying, and the digital offerings are mostly focused on new stuff. So a lot of the great old stuff, it's disappearing" -- CD Projekt Red CEO Marcin Iwinski
Speaking with GameSpot, CD Projekt Red CEO Marcin Iwinski says the company's ambition for the new content on GOG is to offer users a place where they can find movies and shows that have been forgotten or have become hard to find. Sound familiar? Those were the same guiding principles that GOG had in place when it launched six years ago as Good Old Games.
"The retail environment [for movies] is dying, and the digital offerings are mostly focused on new stuff," he says. "So a lot of the great old stuff, it's disappearing. I don't want to say it's impossible to buy, but it's very challenging to buy."
Iwinski said GOG's movie offerings will focus on "classics," and The X-Files was mentioned frequently in our conversation, though it's not one of the confirmed programs. He didn't rule out going after the newer, more high-profile releases some day (after all, GOG has become a place to buy new games like The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt in addition to old titles), but said classics will remain a focus.
Another reason why GOG isn't going to have the most popular movies available in its film catalog right away is because--as you might expect--big Hollywood studios are somewhat leery of releasing their movies without DRM. But GOG is hoping that, with its initial launch of more obscure and lower-profile movies, film executives--and lawyers--will see that DRM-free content doesn't always lead to lost sales.
"This is a much, much older industry than games. They are more traditional, they are more conservative," Iwinski said. "And one of the things that Hollywood is very good at is protecting their properties." But in conversations with Hollywood executives, Iwinski said some of these people admitted that they know DRM doesn't actually stop pirates. However, "They cannot show to the outside world that they don't protect their titles," he said.
"I would encourage people to give the DRM-free experience a try because I think it's a simple as it gets" -- Iwinski
Iwinski pointed out that CD Projekt Red had similar conversations with games publishers, who were initially skeptical about bringing their games to GOG but have since come around. Currently, GOG has numerous big-name publishers selling games on the site, including Activision, Ubisoft, Electronic Arts. He's optimistic that film studios, too, will eventually line up to offer movies and TV shows on GOG.
"I think they will see that it works," he says. "And it's not hurting their business, because it's not."
GOG's movie launch lineup will include films like Indie Game: The movie, Gamer Age, The King of Arcades, and Pixel Poetry--and new titles will be added every week. Once you buy a movie, it's yours to consume however you want. You can stream it, download it, or bring it with you on the go and watch through your smartphone or tablet.
Iwinski also says GOG's introduction of movies is not a response to reports that movies and TV shows could be coming to Steam. "We've been working on it for really quite some time, so it's not a last-minute move or anything like that," he said. "It's just part of our plans."
He also makes it clear that GOG getting into movies does not mean CD Projekt Red is any less committed to its upcoming games, including The Witcher 3 and Cyberpunk 2077. He said no resources were taken away from game development to launch the new movies initiative.
If you're skeptical, GOG is lettinng you download two movies for free to test out the service: Art of Playing and TPB AFK: The Pirate Bay Away From Keyboard. "I would encourage people to give the DRM-free experience a try because I think it's a simple as it gets," Iwinski said.
Alongside the introduction of the new "Movies" tab on GOG, the entire service has been given an upgrade with a new design and features that should make it more friendly to mobile users. In addition, the GOG store has added new payment methods, and finally supports local currencies, including Euros, Pounds Sterling, Australian Dollars, and Russian Roubles. But you can stick with US dollars if you want, CD Projekt Red points out.
Finally, Iwinski says the market has been calling for a DRM-free digital distribution platform that offers more than just one media type. "Nobody has really offered so far one place to get it all [games and movies] digitally and DRM-free, and I think this is a great proposition," he says.
[Also during out interview, I asked Iwinski if CD Projekt Red might ever consider making its own movies. Iwinski laughed, and said doing so might stretch the company too thin, though he admitted it's an idea that the company has not ruled out]