Say "hello!" to Team Fortress II, Portal and Serious Sam 3: BFE. Source.
Let me say that again so you don't miss it: With the exception of *.rpm files (which I don't use), I can install ANY of the HIB games via ANY method the developers made available without problems on three different machines, as well as id Software's offerings, Icculus' ports, and my old Epic games.
To me, installation over multiple distributions seems like a solved problem because people have solved it. Pick an installer and I've had it work: tar.gz, *.run, *.sh, Linstaller, and whatever else they've decided to try.
So should I go buy lottery tickets and take advantage of my miraculous luck, or is GOG's excuse a little thin?
Well you completely forget that current 64 bit systems have got much more problems with binary 32 bit packages than you might think of. That's what i really think could be a problem for steam as well - especialy when some want to sell games which have been done via wine libs and can not be ported to 64 bit easyly. Also you often have to delete sdl/openal libs in order to use the system provided ones with old games because the shipped ones are so dated that you don't hear anything or you get other problems. When you use pulse audio and maybe use that to use hdmi sound then you also get much more problems. I did not manage to play Doom 3 or Quake 4 with PA on a 64 bit system without strange sound problems. Wine somehow is better integrated but you have got real huge problems with older apps. Luckyly Dhewm3 is there so that you could play at least the standard missions of Doom 3 now with a 64 bit binary (some rare crashes happend, a few more in the last level), but for RoE it really crashes too often when the Grabber is used to catch a fireball - that's really no fun at all.
Well uninstall scripts are usually provided in the game directory, those remove the desktop links - in the case you installed the game as user. I would not call that too critical.
Unfortunately for your argument, I don't seem to have audio problems running Doom 3 or Quake 4 (natively) on my 64 bit install under Mint 12 with PulseAudio. I just logged into Mint to check, in fact, and I'm responding to you from the same. What's more, those games are being called from my 32 bit Ubuntu 12.04 partition. And the audio is crystal clear with no discernible lag and no crashes (yet).
I'll grant you that compiling WINE on 64 bit to run 32 bit programs was a bit of a chore, though. Why those libraries aren't included with the basic download is beyond me. I remember hunting them down being a pain in the ass.
I did recently have a minor issue with sound in UT2004 (there wasn't any) which was previously working, but adding the padsp instruction to the executable line of the launcher script (under the "#Let's boogie!" section) cleared that problem up. I'm not claiming that this was a newbie fix by any means, but neither was it coding down to the metal. However I can see having to do such a fix being a turn-off for the fire-and-forget crowd.
In summary, I guess what I'm trying to say is that I don't seem to be having these problems. If you say you're hitting bumps, then I believe you. Never doubt it. I'm just offering proof that it *can* work, and without a hitch. If we can agree that any problem which has been solved can be solved, I see GOG's position to be somewhat less than completely truthful.
I agree with Kano. As stated, this doesn't sound like a strong argument.
Do you really use HDMI audio over PA? On a system without HDMI it worked as well.