Buying PC games online has never been easier. With more communities getting access to high-speed internet, purchasing digital copies of your favourite titles from an online store allows you to bypass the hassle of physical delivery or visiting a bricks-and-mortar location.
A number of online platforms are available to the consumer, but these top three sites are more than enough to suit everyone’s PC gaming needs, whether searching for deep discounts or digital rights management (DRM) free copies.
And rest assured that these online stores sell only legal digital copies.
Released in 2003, Steam has grown into a powerhouse online store. With a library of hundreds of millions of games, one would be hard-pressed to find a PC game that is not on this platform.
Because it has been in the market for the longest period of time, it has perfected its interface and business model to a T.
To help with purchases, there are individual user reviews and ratings along with aggregated scores. If Steam is not displaying the type of games a person wants, they can subscribe to a curated list created by like-minded gamers.
Once a game is purchased, Steam will help instal and launch it within its app, making it an integral part of the customer experience even after the sale is completed.
Steam will continue to update the game, keep track of achievements and help uninstall the game when the time comes.
For those looking for deep discounts, there are limited-time sales every so often, making it a great place to shop for gifts. A person can “gift” a title to another Steam user, keeping the entire transaction within the Steam ecosystem.
Steam also has features such as content streaming, Steam Workshop, and “entertainment anywhere” functionality.
Unfortunately, Steam has its share of weaknesses; overall negative customer-support feedback, support for DRM (a countermeasure against piracy for digital content) and an always online requirement.
Some people consider DRM spyware, saying it is invasive. There have been reports that games with DRM use up more PC resources.
In response to the growing negative sentiment around DRM, an alternative platform called Good Old Games, or GOG, was created by a Polish company to provide a place where users can browse DRM-free games.
GOG distinguishes itself from Steam by advocating DRM-free titles listed on its service. This means that games purchased from GOG can be installed in any number of machines an unlimited number of times as long as it is for personal use.
Another part of its business model is to take old games and give them a facelift, ensuring compatibility with today’s hardware.
This has allowed GOG to carve out a nice niche. Whether someone is looking for an old classic to replay or the newest “AAA” title without the fuss of DRM, look no further than GOG.
A big drawback of GOG is the limited number of titles. This is mainly due to its DRM-free stance, which severely limits the number of games listed on its service.
With a focus on community and recruiting affiliates, Green Man Gaming (GMG) is trying to make inroads into a tough market with entrenched competitors.
It provides some of the best discounts online for those who care to do some bargain hunting. But GMG is more than just discounts!
It drives traffic to its platform by partnering with Twitch and YouTube streamers interested in joining its programme.
This means that in the future, more and more personalities from these sites will be promoting GMG on their channels.
What this means to the average consumer, is that GMG is here to stay. It is innovating and introducing a modern twist to the old formula, and is steadily gaining traction with more developers and publishers.
Although there are numerous other websites selling digital games, consumers should always err on the side of caution. There are sites that obtain digital copies illegally while others might just be scams.