Use Gog.com to play old games on a Mac

Whether you pre­fer 1980s gam­ing or cut­ting edge, Gog.com is a must if you’re a Mac gamer. Craig Gran­nell shows how

Macworld - - Contents -

Mac own­ers where’s the best place to find and buy new games, and they’ll likely sug­gest Steam – or per­haps the Mac App Store. But there are other dig­i­tal dis­tri­bu­tion plat­forms of note, one of which is Gog.com.

A quick glance at the Gog.com web­site might make you ques­tion why you should pick it over

Steam. Its en­try page looks per­fectly nice, but noth­ing out of the or­di­nary. And if you delve deep, you’ll soon find the cat­a­logue is smaller than Steam’s. How­ever, there’s good rea­son to con­sider Gog.com for at least some of your Mac gam­ing.

Why to buy from Gog.com

Per­haps the most ob­vi­ous rea­son to check out Gog.com is shop­ping around. Like ev­ery other dis­trib­u­tor, it has reg­u­lar sales, and th­ese of­ten en­able you to take ad­van­tage of big dis­counts. Un­less you’re des­per­ate to have all your game pur­chases un­der the same dis­tri­bu­tion um­brella, com­par­ing prices across stores is a smart idea.

The sec­ond rea­son is its Drm-free na­ture. This means when you buy a game, you own it; there’s no ac­ti­va­tion and no on­line con­nec­tion re­quire­ment. You can back up files you down­load, and in­stall them on mul­ti­ple Macs, if you like.

The fi­nal main rea­son to look at Gog.com is ev­i­dent when you know its orig­i­nal name: Good Old Games. Al­though the site has since shifted fo­cus, the ser­vice’s orig­i­nal goal was to get clas­sic games into the hands of a mod­ern au­di­ence. And, yes, we know you can in­stall em­u­la­tors on your Mac to run an­cient ti­tles, but Gog.com wanted to re­move the has­sle, and also en­sure peo­ple who owned the rights to old games still got paid.

Get started

If you’ve never vis­ited Gog.com be­fore, head to the site, click Sign In, and then Cre­ate Ac­count.

You’ll need to choose a user name, add your email, and en­ter a pass­word to se­cure your ac­count. Once you’ve done all that, the site will bid you wel­come, and sug­gest you buy a bunch of games, of­fer­ing you deals that only stick around for 48 hours.

To man­u­ally check out what the site has to of­fer, go to Store > Browse all games. You can then fil­ter the site’s col­lec­tion to only Mac-com­pat­i­ble ti­tles by click­ing All games for Mac.

At the time of writ­ing, there were over 2,000 games to choose from - far more than you’d have any hope of play­ing in a sin­gle life­time. For­tu­nately, Gog.com’s fil­ters pro­vide the means to quickly re­fine the se­lec­tion fur­ther.

To do so, click any one of the menus and tick a check­box. Hanker­ing af­ter cheap retro fare? Tick Re­lease > Pre 2000 and Price > Un­der £4. Still af­ter a bar­gain but not wed­ded to games from a par­tic­u­lar era? Clear the Re­lease fil­ter by click­ing the cross on its menu.

How to buy games

It’s im­por­tant to know whether a game you’re keen to buy will run on your Mac. Find your Mac’s specs by go­ing to About This Mac in the Ap­ple menu. On a Gog.com game’s page, sys­tem re­quire­ments are listed part-way down on the right-hand side, and newer games are usu­ally more de­mand­ing.

Limbo (2011), for ex­am­ple, will run on pretty much any In­tel Mac run­ning macos 10.9+. But Fire­watch (2016) de­mands an In­tel Core i5, and 1GB of graph­ics RAM. The Wit­ness (also 2016) has even higher de­mands, rec­om­mend­ing a 2.4GHZ pro­ces­sor, and a Mac ca­pa­ble of run­ning Metal.

Once you’ve found a game you want to play, and that your Mac is ca­pa­ble of run­ning, click the price (or ‘free’ badge) on a re­sults list – or

Add to cart on the game’s page – to add it to your shop­ping cart. Click the cart icon and Go to check­out to con­tinue, and then Pay for your or­der now. If your cart’s only full of free games, they’ll now be sent to your ac­count.

Oth­er­wise, you’ll need to choose a means of pay­ment, such as Pay­pal, a credit/debit card, or Gog.com Wal­let. (The last of those is a fund you man­u­ally top up from an­other pay­ment source. For

many peo­ple, it won’t be worth con­sid­er­a­tion; but it’s handy to con­trol a bud­get for your­self or a child. Also, added funds never ex­pire.)

Be warned that Gog.com also sells sound­tracks and add-ons for some games, and so al­ways be sure of what you’re buy­ing. You don’t want to buy what looks to be a gam­ing bar­gain, with­out read­ing the de­scrip­tion, and find it’s just some mu­sic – even if it’s re­ally good mu­sic!

In­stall pur­chases

Once you’ve gone through the check­out process, you’ll get an email no­ti­fi­ca­tion, and the game will be ready to in­stall from the ac­count sec­tion of GOG. com. Click your name on the Gog.com tool­bar, and then Games. Click the game you’d like to in­stall, and you’ll see what’s avail­able.

To down­load a tra­di­tional in­staller, click the game’s ti­tle un­der the Clas­sic game in­stall­ers header. The in­staller will then be sent to your ~/ Down­loads folder, and can be in­stalled just like any other app. Note that be­cause th­ese games have been down­loaded from the In­ter­net, macos will warn you when you first try to launch them.

It’s worth not­ing that many games of­fer re­lated ‘good­ies’, which are listed to the right of the in­stall­ers list. Said good­ies may in­clude man­u­als and wall­pa­pers. Some go fur­ther – retro plat­former VVVVVV pro­vides early pro­to­types you can play in a web browser. Each game’s down­loads page also has a More but­ton that’s worth in­ves­ti­gat­ing; click that to ac­cess links to

the game’s store page and fo­rum, the lat­ter of which may come in handy if you get stuck.

In­stall and use GOG Galaxy

An­other but­ton con­spic­u­ously sits on ev­ery game’s down­loads page: Try GOG Galaxy. Click that and you’re sent to the GOG Galaxy page, which is also ac­ces­si­ble from About > GOG Galaxy. A large Down­load GOG Galaxy but­ton then invit­ingly urges you to click it.

But what is GOG Galaxy, and why might it in­ter­est you? In short, it’s what Gog.com de­scribes as an ‘op­tional client’ – a piece of soft­ware you can use to make your GOG ex­pe­ri­ence a lit­tle eas­ier and more con­ve­nient, but that you can at any point

aban­don if you don’t like it. If you do down­load and in­stall GOG Galaxy, open­ing it re­veals some­thing al­most iden­ti­cal to the GOG web­site, and where you can per­form ba­si­cally the same tasks – brows­ing the store, buy­ing games, and so on. But the side­bar will also list ti­tles you’ve in­stalled us­ing GOG

Galaxy (note that it can­not mag­i­cally de­tect any GOG games you’ve in­stalled man­u­ally).

This games list can be searched, and click­ing a game loads its page, pre­sent­ing a big Play but­ton, out­lin­ing your ac­tiv­ity with the game to date, and pro­vid­ing ac­cess to other con­tent (in­clud­ing the ‘good­ies’, fo­rums, and sup­port pages) by way of the More but­ton. You can also just dou­ble-click a game in the side­bar to launch it, or right/con­trol-click it to rapidly ac­cess set­tings and sup­port links.

GOG Galaxy it­self also has set­tings, ac­cessed by go­ing to GOG Galaxy > Pref­er­ences. In Gen­eral, you can de­cide whether the app launches on sys­tem start-up, and whether the start­ing page is the store or your games li­brary. Other im­por­tant op­tions in­clude au­to­matic game up­dates in Fea­tures, in­stal­la­tion and down­load fold­ers in Down­loads, and for what rea­sons the app will at­tempt to gain your at­ten­tion in No­ti­fi­ca­tions.

To re­it­er­ate, though, GOG Galaxy is en­tirely op­tional. Stop us­ing it and you can still launch your games from /Ap­pli­ca­tions. There’s no lock-in.

Four Gog.com clas­sics to in­stall on your Mac

Fi­nally, given that we bigged up the retro side of Gog.com ear­lier, here are some old games you

can buy that are still worth your time. Note you need a two-but­ton mouse or joy­stick to get the most from them.

Star Wars: TIE Fighter Spe­cial Edi­tion B Price: £7.49 from fave.co/2cqkpvb

Be the bad guys in this sem­i­nal space shooter. Hugely am­bi­tious for the time, and still playable (and re­ally tough) today, this game finds you re­cruited to the Im­pe­rial Navy, tasked with sav­ing Im­pe­rial lives and wip­ing out those pesky Rebels.

Sen­si­ble World of Soc­cer 96/97 Price: £4.59 from fave.co/2ct3zuf

SWOS is from a time be­fore football games were try­ing very hard to look like what you see on the telly. Its fast-paced over­head footie al­most re­calls pin­ball at times, but it feels su­perb - like you imag­ine football to be in your head.

Can­non Fod­der

Price: £4.59 from fave.co/2csq0je

Ea­ger con­scripts are hurled into the fray in this once hugely con­tro­ver­sial ar­cade/stealth/shooter/ puz­zler mash-up. The com­bi­na­tion of tac­tics and re­flexes re­mains in­tox­i­cat­ing.

The only snag is this PC take lacks the su­perb au­dio from the Amiga orig­i­nal.

Pop­u­lous

Price: £4.59 from fave.co/2cc­qevl

This god sim­u­la­tor from way back in 1989 has you in­flu­ence rather than di­rectly con­trol the tribe am­bling about the planet’s sur­face. Mostly, this is achieved by rais­ing and low­er­ing the land, to help them build larger build­ings. Once your tribe’s pow­er­ful enough, it can then duff up the op­po­si­tion.

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