Good Old Games has been a beacon of hope for the gaming industry for the past few years, offering gamers the chance to purchase titles without DRM software shoved in to make you pull your hair out. The company has been making moves recently to do battle in the game distribution market along with Steam, EA Origin and Uplay and the Galaxy client is their answer. The Galaxy client is now in open beta and you’re invited to try it out for yourself. If you’re already a GOG user and make use of the existing downloader, it will remain functional for the forseeable future, at least until some change on the back-end of GOG’s servers makes it unusable.
Previously the Galaxy client was in an invite-only alpha stage and the multiplayer features of GOG’s network were tested on Alien vs Predator Classic 2000, handed out for free for people participating in the alpha. The client serves up something similar to the website store front, but there are extra options like going offline indefinitely and downloading copies of your games for backup purposes. GOG’s ambition is not to replace your Steam client, but rather to offer you a more convenient method of buying games through their service and keep them updated.
What GOG wants to do, rather, is bring the community that’s been building up in their forums over to the client, making it easier to join up with your friends in-game. Friends lists and the online chat functions are working and work is being done to get the APIs for joining and inviting friends to games working. It currently doesn’t, and in the alpha the implementation for Alien vs Predator Classic 2000 matches was overall finicky. Soon, GOG hopes to have the games they sell on the store work with the same game bought elsewhere, like Steam, so in the event that you and a friend buy a multiplayer title on the two platforms, you’ll still be able to play together.
What the beta client also promises is a working overlay that works just like Steam and Origin, to allow you to interact with your friends and use the client’s features without ALT-TAB-ing out of the game. It would be really cool if the client evolves to allow you to add friends into your list that are on Steam and not their own GOG account and if successful, I hope this ends up being extended to Origin and Uplay as well. I want to use less clients to manage my games, not one for each publisher.
For the moment, the Galaxy client is available for Windows platforms (maybe there’s some love for Windows XP there) and the Mac OS X platform starting from 10.8, which is Mountain Lion. There is a Linux version of the client on the cards, but it looks like that’s taking a little longer to build and complete, but it is coming.