GOG.com, in a joint conference with CD Projekt RED, have announced their foray into the online gaming space with GOG Galaxy. Galaxy is promising gamers an optional client which will, when it eventually launches, provide DRM-free games that require zero online activation and optional online connectivity.

The client will provide automatic updating for GOG’s existing library, but their traditional manual method will still be available for those that prefer it. Users who opt for creating a profile and utilising the client will be able to track achievements and other statistics against their titles, which is currently missing from GOG’s existing offering. Galaxy will also provide cross-play with any of its titles on competing platforms — such as Steam — ensuring that you can play with friends regardless of where they bought their version of the game.

The first title to be launching on Galaxy is The Witcher Adventure Game, a turn-based digital board-game set in the Witcher universe, which will release sometime in 2014. Readers can sign up for the closed beta at the GOG Galaxy website, or get beta codes by pre-ordering The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt‘s digital edition at GOG.com.

While some sites are billing this as a Steam rival, I’m not sure that’s the case, or even what the business proposition is for Galaxy. Cross-play with other platforms (such as consoles) could potentially be huge, and if Galaxy aids in facilitating multiplayer with its classic catalogue, that would be fantastic. But I don’t see publishers flocking to it — what with its consumer-friendly approach and all — which means Steam’s exclusivity on most mainstream titles will remain intact.

Source: GOG live stream