Just Press Start: Online PC Game Stores With Cool Selections

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online game shops
PHOTO Screenshots from Epic Games, Steam ILLUSTRATION War Espejo

(SPOT.ph) For old-school gamers, probably nothing beats the feeling of rushing to your favorite game shop to buy a copy of the latest game in all its shrink-wrapped glory. Holding the game box or disc case in your hands while looking at the box art or unpacking the game manual still has no digital equivalent. While it’s still certainly possible to get a physical copy at retail, digital stores have slowly become the norm when it comes to buying what is entirely a software product.

In the same way that online stores have changed how people get their music, videos, and apps, online game stores are the easiest way to get your hands on PC games if you’re looking for triple A titles (high-budget games developed by an established game publisher), indie games, or even hard-to-find classic games. Lucky for PC gamers, there are well-established online stores to choose from compared to online stores for consoles which mostly have one default store.

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We take a look at the most popular digital stores for games:

Steam

Steam
PHOTO Screenshot of Steam website
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store.steampowered.com
Established: 2003
Current number of games: 50,300

For a lot of gamers, this is the online game store. Steam started out as an online solution for updating Valve Software’s games. Valve is well-known for its games such as Half-Life, Team Fortress, Portal, and Counter-Strike. In terms of stats, Steam’s numbers are the highest for all the online game stores: There are over 120 million monthly active users and 62.6 million who use it on a daily basis.

Perhaps like a marketing line from a famous department store, there isn’t a game that can’t be found on Steam. From the latest triple-A release from top-tier publishers to the most obscure indie title, Steam has it all for gamers of any sort. With over 50,000 titles available, anyone who even has a passing interest in games will find Steam’s catalog quite impressive. While recently released games are offered at competitive prices that’s close to retail shops, Steam offers a lot of games at a discount. They can either be games released a couple of months or years ago or discounted by the publishers themselves.

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For Steam users, the most anticipated event is the Steam Sale which can happen several times in a year. During a Steam Sale, discounts can go anywhere up to 80% off in prices. Apart from the discounted titles, Steam Sales also include deep cuts on game bundles such as a game series and its DLCs (downloadable content). This means the maximum bang for the buck during a sale. Because of this, a lot of Steam members often end up with easily adding more titles to their growing library of games.

Steam is not just limited to PC games as there are some games for the Mac OS X and Linux available on the platform. Steam’s Early Access allows users to test out playable versions of games that are still in development.

Locally, Steam supports credit cards for payment as well as prepaid Steam Wallet card codes which are available in local games shops. These codes can be bought digitally using GCash and PayMaya. Setting up a Steam account is as easy as signing up and installing the app.

The app also has a chat function that can be used to message other Steam users. Multiplayer games with other Steam users can also be initiated using the chat app. For those who have a hard time deciding which games to buy, Steam has a very powerful recommendation system for discovering new games. Gameplay wise, Steam offers online saves and auto updates ensuring that users always have the latest version installed.

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GOG

GOG
PHOTO Screenshot of GOG's website

www.gog.com
Established: 2008
Current number of games: 4,700

GOG, which used to be short for Good Old Games, is a digital game store that was first started by CD Projekt, the maker of The Witcher games. From the beginning, GOG earned its reputation for its well-curated library of retro games. If Steam can be thought of as a large mall of games, GOG is more of a boutique store or a specialty shop. A large chunk of games from the '90s to the 2000s can be found on GOG. While the games on offer are high on nostalgia, GOG takes every effort to make sure they are compatible with modern machines. The game store is also known for its DRM-free (digital rights management) games which make it easy for purchased games to be installed on multiple machines. GOG has also directly worked with the original publishers to make the older games run smoothly on new machines.

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For those who want to try out GOG, the store offers a selection of free games from the get go. Most GOG games come with free bundles and a 30-day refund period. For those with existing libraries from other game stores, GOG Connect lets users import their titles purchased from other shops like Steam. When it comes to presentation, GOG offers a cleaner interface and simpler curation.

Apart from retro and classic games, current titles are also available as well as games that run on Mac OS X and Linux. GOG offers daily discounts for some of its games but it also holds major events like the Summer Sale which offer up to 90% discount on game titles.

Games can be purchased directly through the GOG website or the GOG Galaxy app. As a subsidiary of CD Projekt, there are often regular discounts on the company’s titles such as The Witcher series. Games on GOG can be bought by using credit cards or PayPal.

Epic

Epic Games
PHOTO Screenshot of Epic Games website
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www.epicgames.com/store/en-US
Established: 2018
Number of available games: 471

The Epic Game Store is the newest kid on the block. With its slim library of titles, it’s quite obvious that Epic is still not quite ready to challenge the larger, more well-established stores. What Epic has it going for them is a free weekly giveaway of titles ranging from older triple AA titles to small indie games. This free games giveaway has been a staple feature since the store’s launch and sometimes two titles are free to download per week. Apart from this, Epic also offers store exclusives. Because of its exclusivity deals with some publishers, some titles are only available on Epic for a period of six months or even a year.

Despite the small number of games, Epic is packing its store with titles from major publishers such as Ubisoft and Rockstar Games. For those used to other more packed game stores, the Epic Game Store interface is as basic as it can get. Curation and game recommendation is certainly one of Epic’s weakest features. While the storefront is clean and basic, there’s hardly any effort from the site to push games and genres that are to the user’s liking. The store also features discounts but they are not as extensive or deeply discounted as those offered by other stores. When it comes to DRM, Epic leaves the option to the game publishers themselves so some games may be easier to install on multiple PCs than others. Games can be purchased using a credit card, PayPal, or GCash.

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