A picture of a Cyberpunk 2077 wallpaper captured by WWW PROD.

We all dread that moment when we need to uninstall some of our beloved PC games to make room for new ones, right? I do, especially after dedicating countless hours exploring hidden secrets in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, or downloading more than a hundred mods for me to put into Fallout 4.

That being said, every game has its eventual end, and new games will replace them in one way or another. When we do get the urge to re-play all those classics, though, do we have to rebuy them from actual stores all over again?

For digitally-bought PC games, we don’t have to rebuy them anymore. Games purchased from online gaming platforms, like Steam or EA Play, stay linked to our account even if they are uninstalled from the computer. This way, we can reinstall them at any time, as long as we are connected to the Internet.

On the other hand, physical game copies (CD, DVD, etc.) that are lost/ damaged will need to be rebought if we wish to reinstall them. This is the case for many older-generation PC games that were released before the 2000s, though many video game publishers now allow players to download their games through their websites albeit proving their purchases via CD-Keys, etc.

Computers were the primary system used for video games after the video game crash in 1983, with PCs more likely to be sold due to their multi-purpose use (not just for gaming). Because of this, video game developers and publishers needed to ensure that their products were easily accessible and downloaded from anywhere, explaining the gist of converting video games from physical copies to digital formats nowadays.

Still, other video game avenues do exist, like renting PC games from video game stores. These alternatives provide better options if we only want to revisit old-time favorites like Dead Space 2 or Bioshock Infinite for a few days/ weeks, both great examples of video games that people play to enjoy the storyline and nostalgia.

With so many ways to re-play PC masterpieces like Red Dead Redemption without needing to rebuy them, it’s easier for us to play previous-generation games today! There’s still a nice market for second-hand PC games too if you’re thinking about selling your used games as well.

Why Do I Have to Delete Games on PC?

I admit some games are just too precious to be uninstalled. As a zombie-horror enthusiast, I still have both Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2 on my computer, joining public lobbies to have some mindless fun now and then.

However, video games take up a lot of our PC’s internal memory, and at some point, we’ll need to face the tough choice of removing a few of them to make room for new ones or other important applications.

For many of us, we remove our PC games due to a few obvious reasons:

  • Reuse memory space for better games/ applications/ software
  • Unsatisfying gameplays and experiences (bugs, malware, etc.)
  • Change of lifestyle/ interests
  • Incompatible specs and hardware

A computer’s hard disk drive (HDD) or solid-state drive (SSD) is the primary internal component used for storing video games, and its maximum capacity (1TB, 512GB, etc.) determines the number of games that we can install at any given time.

We can increase the maximum threshold by buying storage drives with bigger memory, but we will still need to remove our games eventually, either due to the installations of other non-gaming applications on the computer, or the ever-increasing file sizes of new video games (100GB is quickly becoming the norm).

Video games themselves can force us into removing them, most notably because of bad optimizations, graphical glitches, and numerous in-game bugs. In certain circumstances, gaming issues like these can be solved by updating our PC drivers and tweaking game files.

Most of the time, though, they occur because the games weren’t properly developed or ‘undercooked’; an industry-wide problem that gamers like us need to acknowledge today. Many triple-A (AAA) titles continue to be released and sold at full price, yet important game elements are only added via massive updates or patches sometime later.

This can be another strong reason why we uninstall games from our computers, saving the free space for other ‘justifiable’ game purchases that deserve our time, attention, and money. Case in point: Elden Ring!

How Do I Play Uninstalled PC Games Again?

With Resident Evil 4’s remake coming next month, many diehard RE fans would want to revisit older games of the franchise to experience the tension and suspense once more. I feel the same way too, relishing the chance to sharpen my aiming skills by playing the original Resident Evil 4 or 2019’s Resident Evil 2 remake, before jumping into the new one as an experienced Leon S. Kennedy.

Many of us have different reasons to re-play older games on our computers. For games that have already been removed/ uninstalled, here are the ways that we can re-play them on PC again:

  • Reinstall the games on the computer
    • Physical format (CD, DVD, etc.)
    • Digital format
  • Install the games on an external storage device (HDD, SSD, USB, etc.)
  • Play online via cloud gaming

Reinstalling games on our PCs should be as easy as it sounds, though things can differ based on circumstances. Let’s go through them, one by one:

Reinstalling games on PC

Ideally, reinstalling games on the PC is straightforward. Still, many games come in 2 different formats, each being:

  • Physical copies bought from game stores
  • Digital copies bought and downloaded online

Although the installation process remains the same for both, each video game format comes with its caveats. Physical game copies, like CDs and DVDs, need to be handled with care to avoid external damage to them, something that can disrupt installation processes, and corrupt in-game files.

Alternatively, digital copies do not have such inconveniences, and we can reinstall games at any time as long as an active Internet connection is available. That being said, in instances where the Internet connection is slow or unstable (or no connection at all), physical game copies come in handy instead.

Both have their circumstantial pros and cons to be considered, but in general, digital PC game downloads are much more preferred when it comes to newer-generation games.

Installing games on external storage devices

For those of us who don’t know, we can install PC games on external storage devices, like external HDDs, SSDs, and even flash drives (not just storing them, but installing them!). Finding out the best option usually depends on our gaming habits and lifestyle. 

The upside of installing PC games on external storage is that we can save our computers’ internal memory for other crucial apps and software (besides other all-time favorite games as well). External gaming storage can also be brought along wherever we go, allowing us to play games while on the move, most notably on laptops.

The major downside to external storage usually comes in the form of data transfer speeds, meaning that video games take longer to load and save in-game progress. Sometimes, certain games can suffer dips in frame rates and experience graphical glitches too, but these vary according to the games themselves.

Play online via cloud gaming

Benefitting from the latest gaming technology, we can now re-play our old, uninstalled games just by ‘streaming’ them via the Internet. This is made possible due to cloud gaming, letting connected users all over the world access and play games that are installed on the cloud server (not on our PCs).

Subscription services like Xbox Game Pass and GeForce NOW are platforms that provide cloud-gaming features for gamers to enjoy. The only shortcoming here is that cloud gaming requires a fast, stable Internet connection for us to play games without interruption.

This might be an issue for us that live in certain regions like South East Asia or the Middle East, although in general, more cloud servers have now been set up around the world than ever before. With such utility available for us to use, we might not need to buy video games anymore in the future, let alone use an external DVD drive to play them (1990s flashbacks in mind).

Do I Need to Rebuy Console Games Ported to PC?

We all know that the console-versus-PC war is never going to stop till the end of time. Regardless, there have been numerous instances where older CONSOLE games get ported to the PC a few years after their releases, boasting better 3D graphics, quality-of-life improvements, and additional features overall. Days Gone is a great, modern example of that.

PC ports are USUALLY superior to their console counterparts, though there have been cases of embarrassing PC ports before (remember Dark Sector?). If we’ve bought a console game before it becomes available on PC, though, do we have to repurchase it to play on the computer?

Unfortunately, yes, we need to rebuy the PC port of console games to play them on the computer. Porting console games to PC is an arduous task for video game developers, requiring tons of hard work and process conversions to transfer game assets from a different infrastructure to an entirely new one.

Video game porting is somewhat doable when a game is created using commonly-shared graphics engines like Unity and Unreal, but things get really difficult when game studios utilize their self-built 3D engines to create games instead.

This is one of the main reasons why many PC gamers prefer to stick to their gaming rigs even if some games don’t get released for computers at launch. We all know that, eventually, almost every console game gets ported to home computers too.

A few video game companies are exceptions to this, though. One name that comes to mind is Nintendo, a globally-successful company that has never released any PC game since its inception in 1889!

For what it’s worth, at least sports games continue to be released consistently on PC, right?

Should I Buy PC Versions of Already-Owned Console Games?

Getting the PC version of an existing PlayStation/ Xbox game can be quite appealing in terms of better graphics control, mod support, and accessibility (laptops). That being said, are these enough to justify a purchase?

Generally, no, we don’t need to buy PC versions of our already-bought console games. If we have a gaming console at home, there isn’t any need to buy the same games for PC as well. Financially, it’s just a waste of money.

Nevertheless, this might be different for previous-generation console games that are outdated graphically and gameplay-wise. We can take the Devil May Cry HD Collection as an example, introducing many improvements to all its games’ in-game textures and particle effects, warranting its purchase on PCs. 

Factoring in the existence of cloud gaming today, we can even play console games on our PC without needing to port the games at all, especially Xbox games on Windows. The biggest reason for us to buy PC versions of console games is to take advantage of free multiplayer, something that is locked behind paid subscriptions on mainstream PlayStation and Xbox consoles (except for specific free-to-play titles).

Honestly, even though I’m a passionate PC gamer, there are a couple of things that console players do benefit from instead. For instance, PC games don’t always look good when displayed on family TVs, so a PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X/S is more viable for local, couch multiplayer with family and friends.

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