We’re currently in full swing of the digital download age. For most people, it’s likely been a hot minute since they last installed a game via a disc of some kind. Now, it’s all about hitting up a digital storefront, making your selection, then swiping some plastic and within a few minutes, you’re off to the races…or warzones or whatever tickles your fancy.
But, what if you’re new to PC gaming? Or, what if you’re an old-timey gamer who’s just now getting back into the swing of things? Downloading PC games is likely going to be a somewhat new concept.
Thankfully, there are more than a few online marketplaces that offer titles of all kinds for you to purchase and download.
Where to Download PC Games?
Let’s get something out of the way, first. When we say “download PC games”, we don’t mean pirated and hacked copies. No, sir. We’re talking about websites and apps that legally distribute copies of games, where you’ll have to pay to support the developers in exchange for their wares. Game development is a lot of work, so support your devs.
The main advantage of such marketplaces is that they make it easy to find new titles to play. Some may even have demos so you can try before you buy. Even better, these online storefronts often offer big discounts on games to the point where they’re practically giving them away.
Steam is by far the most noteworthy of the bunch. It exists as both a website and a downloadable app that also doubles as a game manager and launcher. It was the first to popularize the digital distribution of PC games, allowing the platform to single-handedly transform gaming on computers forever.
Epic Games Store comes as a close second and the main rival to Steam. Although it lacks a lot of the features Valve’s platform has introduced over the many years its existed, PC downloading on the Epic store is just as easy and effortless. What makes the platform stand out the most is its monthly free games that require no subscription or commitment.
GOG – Good Old Games – has also become a big contender in the PC game download space. It used to focus primarily on older titles (hence its name) but today it also offers the most recent titles as well. One of its biggest advantages is that you can buy games from GOG without any DRM, meaning you aren’t tied to a particular platform to run them. GOG is also home to many old games that can’t be bought on any other platform.
Finally, we can’t touch on digital PC game stores without mentioning Humble Bundle. Though it acts as a store like Steam and Epic Games Store, it’s better known for its themed bundles that are sold at steep discounts. What’s more, a portion of the proceeds from these bundles goes to good causes.
There are other online platforms for buying and downloading PC games beyond the above four, all with their own features and advantages. Now that you’ve likely decided on a place to buy your games from, it’s time to talk about downloading them.
How to Download PC Games?
For each platform, the downloading experience will be slightly different. However, they all follow a pretty standard procedure. Search for the game you want, buy it, and then download it. It’s this last step, though, that can be somewhat different.
When you buy from Steam and the Epic Games Store, you typically need to install their respective apps before you can download and run your purchases. Both apps mirror the interface of the sites with the exception of a library manager. Within this segment, you can see all the games you’ve bought and download them with the click of a button.
GOG also has an app called Galaxy that you can use to download your game more conveniently. The only difference is that you can also opt to download each title as an individual installer from the GOG website. Just go to your account, find your game, and select the offline backup game installers.
With Humble Bundle, things are a bit more old school. Once you purchase a game from their site, you need to head to your account’s download page. From there, you can download your games if they’re available as direct downloads. The other way Humble Bundle distributes games is through license keys which can then be redeemed on other storefronts, such as Steam.
Which App is Best for Downloading PC Games?
The greater majority of gamers will tell that for all of your PC gaming needs, just use Steam. And this is fair enough. Steam has been around since 2003. That’s almost two decades of accumulated experience and platform development, so it’s nothing to sneeze at. Today, Steam’s features are plentiful.
Steam reviews are always populated and a good place to learn if a game will fit your taste or not. There are also curators who’ll create collections of titles based on themes and genres to help you decide on what to play next. Even the platform itself behaves like Netflix and recommends games based on the ones you’ve already bought and played. On top of that, if your friends are also on Steam, you can see on each game’s page if they own it or not. Managing games is also fairly straightforward on Steam.
The Epic Games Store is catching up, though. It’s a much better platform since it originally launched a couple of years ago. However, if you want the robustness of Steam, you’ll struggle with EGS. But it’s not a bad app to keep installed as you can download a free PC game every month.
Overall, apps for downloading PC games are typically tied to their respective storefronts. So, in a sense, they’re like the console buying experience. But how do their prices stack up?
Are PC Games Cheaper than Console?
This point heavily depends on your perspective on price. Consoles have the added burden of expecting gamers to pay for subscriptions to play online and enjoy other perks. One of these advantages could also be exclusive discounts on games. For instance, PlayStation does Double Discounts which will give their PS Plus subscribers an extra 5-10% off on top of deals that are already in place.
However, PC games don’t need subscriptions to be well discounted. Steam’s myriad of sales events sees games having prices slashed for as much as 80% more frequently than you’d expect. The downside is that PC gaming can be expensive if you want to be at the high end in terms of hardware.
That all being said, both PC games and console games can be bought and downloaded at ridiculously low prices for games that are a couple of years old and up so they’re quite even in that area. The only straggler, in this case, is Nintendo which seldom discounts its first-party games in a significant way.