Lukasz Kukawski, GOG.com (Interview)

2i (2nd-impact): Hi Lukasz, many thanks to have a small break with us, and we wish you a warm welcome to 2nd-impact. Could you introduce yourself?

Lukasz: Thank you for having me here :) I’m a PR and marketing manager at GOG.com, the digital distribution platform for classic PC games.

2i: First, the same question of every guest… What is the last song you choosed to listen?
Lukasz: I just got my hands on the latest Beastie Boys album and the Akhenaton and Faf la Rage cooperation ‘We Luv NY’. I should mention that I’m a big fan of French rap :)

2i: What was your first computer/game and first video game?
Lukasz: My very first computer was ZX Spectrum. It was actually my brother’s computer, as I was around 4-5 years old at that time, but he did allowed me to play on it as well. What’s really cool about it, I have learned English thanks to ZX Spectrum :).
As for the very first game, I cannot be sure, but I played Zorro by DataSoft a lot. I checked the screenshots for that game on MobyGames and a tear of joy and nostalgia appeared in my eye :)

2i: Can you tell us the story of Gog.com? Why and when did you build your website?
Lukasz: The concept of offering old games to gamers had long been germinating in the minds of CD Projekt’s management. You have to know that GOG.com is part of the CD Projekt group of companies that also includes CD Projekt RED development studio, the creators of the acclaimed The Witcher franchise. CD Projekt started their business as retail distributor of games in Poland in mid-90’s. One of company’s biggest successes on the Polish gaming market, which was heavily pirated at that time, was introducing a budget series of classic PC games to Polish gamers.

 

With such experience in this segment on the Polish market, an idea about conquering the worldwide audience was just a matter of time. Sometime around 2007 CDP’s management guys started to form a concept of digital distribution service that would offer classic PC games for cheap and optimized to run on modern operating systems. Many games aren’t available anywhere to buy legally and even if you own them you’d have lots of issues running them on modern computers.
The next couple of months were strictly dedicated to analyzing the digital distribution market, expanding the concept of the service and preparing the design and programming side of the project. At first the team was a small group of designers and web-developers, but it quickly grew into group of 20 people including more designers and developers :), business development people, a band of support/testers and some marketing folks. With two acclaimed publishers on board, Interplay and Codemasters, we were ready to announce the service in June 2008. We launched a closed beta in September and finally opened the service for everyone in October announcing Strategy First as the next publisher on board.

2i: How can you describe your job in Gog.com?
Lukasz: I’m one of the cogs of this well working machine which GOG.com is. I’m one of three people taking care of the PR and marketing actions. I’m responsible for contacting the press (meaning setting up and sometimes, like now, giving interviews, writing press releases, making contests, etc.), thinking of cool ways to promote the games we’re releasing, advertising and basically trying to get the word about GOG.com and it’s games out to the world :)

2i: Who was the first game conceptor/Publisher you contacted to obtain the legal rights on a game?
Lukasz: We’ve contacted Interplay as CD Projekt was distributing their games here in Poland and had already an established business relationship. And with such great classics like Fallout, Earthworm Jim, Descent, Freespace, MDK and more, in their portfolio, that was a great choice to start with. Thanks to such great line up of classics the announcement of GOG.com went so well.

2i: How many games can we download at gog.com?
Lukasz: The catalogue has nearly 300 products, but that means something around 350 games as many titles are sold in bundles, like Alone in the Dark 1+2+3 or Space Quest 1+2+3. If we would also count each expansion pack that we bundle with games, that number would be around 400 games available at GOG.com.

2i: Are all games supported on Windows Seven?
Lukasz: We’re working on it. At this moment more than half of the games are officially marked as W7 compatible, but much more run on the newest system by Microsoft. The compatibility with new operating systems is very important for us that’s why we’re working on it very carefully. Even when many our users don’t have any issues with playing a game on W7, we still work on it so most of them can run the game flawlessly. We’re just being perfectionists about that :)

2i: Why not proposing a portage on Mac/Apple? (Mac, Iphone and Ipad?)
Lukasz: Mostly because our agreements with publishers are signed for reselling Windows versions of the games. Don’t know actually what it takes to make deal with Apple and offer games on their platforms, but I’m sure that adds more agreements to be signed. Aside of that, adding MacOSX compatibility would bring a lot of work to our programmers which at the moment would be non-profitable.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bdp9mgzz-fU
2i: You have some french titles in your catalogue, just like “Beyond good & Evil” or “Alone in the Dark”. How can you express to us your vision of the “french touch” in video games?
Lukasz: There’s definitely something like « French design » in games. The two games you mentioned and Rayman as well have this specific and magical feel. The first Alone in the Dark game was really something new, refreshing and simply awesome when it was first released and I enjoyed the hell out of it. And Beyond Good & Evil is still one of the best games I have ever played with one of the best worlds created in video games. It’s really hard for me to say what makes this « French touch », as you call it, so special, but please don’t stop it :)

2i: What is the older game in your catalogue? And the younger?
Lukasz: The oldest game in GOG.com’s catalogue is the first part of the famous King’s Quest series which is part of the KQ 1+2+3+4 pack. As for the most recent title, that would be The Witcher 2 of course :). We decided to offer TW2 on GOG.com as it was made b our sister company, CD Projekt RED. We just didn’t want to miss the great occasion to promote this highly anticipated title and offer it with all GOG.com treatment, meaning DRM-free, with loads of goodies and in a fair price for all gamers around the world.

2i: I am a publisher and I want you to sell my oldy, rusty, crispy belgium or french video game.. is that possible? What should I do?
Lukasz: If you’re ok with our policy (DRM-free, two price points, adding free goodies), sure that’s possible. You should send us a inquiry via the contact form at http://www.gog.com/en/support/contact/business and our business development people will contact you.

2i: You already have a lot of great super games on Gog.com…. But I am sure you are still looking for the Holy Grail, isn’t it ? What is the best game ever you would like to have on Gog.com right now?
Lukasz: A quick look at the users most wanted list says it all – System Shock. Basically our users are crossing their fingers for an announcement of a deal with Electronic Arts and LucasArts. We’re working on it.

2i: We can watch on youtube (gog channel) a great video to understand your business plan and marketing strategy since 2008. Can you explain to us what you are aiming for december 2011?
Lukasz: We’ve announced during our spring presentation we have a signed agreement with one of five highly anticipated publishers (Microsoft, EA, 2K, LucasArts or Square-Enix), which we’ll be announcing pretty soon and we’re aiming to have two more major deals signed by the end of the year. So exciting times ahead of us and GOG.com users.
2i: Even more than download games on GOG, you are also proposing to your customers the original soundtracks and goodies. Have you think about more content that could be added to the game itself?
Lukasz: With every release we’re trying to get as much goodies as we can, that’s our policy. If we want people to buy those old games rather than pirate them we have to give them as many incentives as we can. That’s why games are DRM-free, guaranteed to work on modern Windows systems and come with wallpapers, soundtracks, artworks and more. It’s sometimes really hard for us to find those goodies because in many cases publishers don’t have anything or don’t have the rights to music or artworks. So it’s a tricky thing to get those goodies but we do our best to provide our users the best package possible.

 

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TtQCUMUnVpg

2i: Lukash, many thanks for answering to 2nd-impact. Have you got an exclusive or upcoming title to be published soon?
Lukasz: We’ll be announcing the big publisher really soon so stay tuned to GOG.com. We’ll definitely make a big deal out of it, so you should notice when it’s coming :)

2i: Thanks to you a lot of work is not lost… An old work that was huge, and today is even more appreciable because of your website. We wish you all the best for 2011.
Lukasz: Thank you very much for the opportunity to present GOG.com to 2nd-Impact readers and I encourage everyone to visit GOG.com, create an account and check the 5 free games every user receive :)

Best,
Lukasz

 

 

 

 

(pour les non-anglophones, une version française arrive très prochainement! Désolé pour l'attente.) 

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