GOG is the wild, wild west for Linux gaming June 6, 2022 on Kenneth Dodrill's blog

Recently, I haven’t been gaming much. I’ve been getting into Magic: The Gathering, and there is a new set out based on Baldur’s Gate. I own the first one on GOG, so I decided to play through it again. The only problem is that libraries can’t be resolved because Void Linux doesn’t have the right version (makes sense because it’s a rolling distro).

I have experienced this with other games on GOG. Shadowrun Returns and Undertale both have native Linux versions that don’t ship with some of the required libraries. The solution? Download Steam, which downloads those libraries to it’s folder once you start it. Then you can link them or what have you. Besides Proton, there is also a compatibility container called Steam Linux Runtime which you can use. It specifically allows developers (and possibly Valve themselves?) to support older games and have their games run across any Linux distribution.

I love these tools, but I hate that we need them. What if, instead, developers did more research about their Linux ports to discover that you should ship the required dependencies with your games? I feel like a simple primer (like the one that GOG itself provides) would’ve helped a lot back when these games came out. It’s a shame that digital storefronts need to adapt and/or develop tooling to fix issues that stem from developer ignorance or laziness.

To enjoy the games that I’ve purchased on GOG, for many of them I will need to install Steam; which goes completely against part of the idea of providing DRM-free games! It’s irritating, and it should not be required. I’m also not really sure who should be at fault here. GOG clearly acknowledge that it’s a problem by providing information about it, but that guide likely wasn’t available back when these games were being developed. These semi-old games aren’t getting new updates, and trying to throw a ticket towards support will do absolutely nothing.

To make matters worse, if you want to buy a new game that has a Linux port, you’re just spinning the wheel. There’s no way to “try” a game on GOG. Returns aren’t easy like Steam and you will be interacting with a real human being that will do their best to keep your money. GOG has become the place where I will buy a closed-source game that has an open-source engine, just because it’s at least easy to download.