Combat Mission on GOG
Hell has not frozen over. Pigs are not flying. But, somehow, Battlefront game(S!) are on GOG. Battlefront has been vociferous in their opinion of third party storefronts like Steam or GOG. So much so that when it was pointed out that Combat Mission : Beyond Overlord was on GOG, they weren’t even aware. Then it disappeared…
But now CMBO is back, along with a few others.
It’s not uncommon for publishers with large game catalogs to release the first in a series on multiple platforms with the intent that they feed to future titles elsewhere. Matrix is a good example, their oft maligned launcher does serve a purpose in informing you of some game you may be interested in.
For those not familiar with GOG (Good Old Games), they are owned and operated by CD Projekt Red, the guys who made the Witcher series. They take older titles, and get them working on modern systems. They also have a good take on you, the consumer, actually owning the games. In a nutshell, a trustworthy organization.
Battlefront had been staunch opponents of the Steam model. It’s the common grog publisher cry, “why should we give up 30% when our niche would not grow.” You get into a circular logic about the whole thing, on one hand I’ll defer to the publishers know there business model. But on the other successful publishers like Matrix now have no issue releasing titles on Steam. (Eventually)
Back to Combat Mission. The big draw here is obviously not the graphics. These are fairly simple but surprisingly functional games. You’ll see a definite core in the descendants, Combat Mission Battle for Normandy, etc. The games are somewhat clunky but also fairly good given the age.
The main draw here is content. Combat Mission Barbarossa to Berlin comes with a whopping 150 missions. None of the modern Combat Missions come with anything near as close to that. Maybe if you throw in the modding scene but it’s a pain in the ass compared to Steam Workshop integration.
The main question is are you willing to trade graphical detail for a massive scenario list? Combat Mission 4.0 can look amazing with some mods to polish the graphics up. While these games look at best, rather like a 16 bit potato. Yes, it’s a potato, but it’s not terribly pretty.
In my first scenario both sides raced for an intact building for shelter in a blizzard. We have Stug III’s and Pz38’s while the Soviets have BT-7’s. This is definitely winter 1941. There’s snow, cover, everyone is exhausted and best of all the tanks stumble out of the snow like lumbering giants. It’s close range, brutal, bloody.
In a nutshell, it was a lot of fun.
Sure it sucked to have to use the weirdo control interface. That’s one other thing Battlefront has really improved upon on the newer games.
Eventually the Soviet armor succumbed to the onslaught while the infantry couldn’t gain a foothold and I finished up the battle with a solid victory. It was a quick rumble and good fun. One of those great games that for $6 is a deal.
This sort of thing is very common in the fiction world. If you write a dozen novels you give away the first one on every damned storefront around. Then your back catalog can leverage that exposure and your overall sales go up.
Hopefully we’ll see more grog developers and publishers list the back catalog and attempt to draw in new gamers. Maybe we’ll even see these games on Steam? It’d be a great way for Battlefront to test the waters. Instead of worrying about a shrinking group of grog gamers they have an opportunity to grow the pie and have a larger slice.
Studios like John Tiller are another great example. They have a ton of older content that doesn’t look terribly different from newer content. Why not throw it up and see how it does? It’s not like a $40 price tag in a niche storefront is moving many copies. Drop that baby to $6 and at least bring in some sales.
Either way, $20 for all three CM titles is a great price and pixel potato aside, is well worth it. Go forth my friend and roast some pixel soldiers.