Top 7 PC Game Digital Download Services

Download top free and for-purchase PC games from these sites

Almost all global PC game sales now come from digital distribution services. Brick-and-mortar retailers now only shelve game cards and codes that can be used on platforms like Steam, Origin, and GamersGate. Some of these services even allow you to download old MS-DOS games.

Here are some of the best PC game download platforms currently available.

01
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Steam

Steam Logo

Steam

What We Like
  • Huge selection of titles.

  • Steam client works with non-Steam games.

What We Don't Like
  • Steam client doesn't capture videos.

  • Spotty customer service and technical support.

Steam is a PC game digital distribution service, social network, and gaming platform developed by the Valve Corporation. It was unveiled in 2002 and officially released in 2003. It has since become the de facto leader in PC gaming, providing a service to purchase and download games and also a thriving user community and gaming platform that hosts millions of users on different games at any given time.

Steam hosts thousands of titles, including most major releases, the exception being some EA titles that are exclusive to EA's completing platform Origin. Valve has also developed games that are exclusive to Steam, such as Dota 2, the Left 4 Dead series, and Counter-Strike.

Steam provides digital distribution for many independent developers and their games, some of which have become successful titles that would not have seen the light of day without such a platform.

In the early days, many gamers were resistant to Steam. Many didn't like the fact that some physical game copies still required the Steam client to play them. This complaint has dwindled as more and more companies embrace digital rights management and the always-online format.

02
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Green Man Gaming

Green Man Gaming Logo

Green Man Gaming

What We Like
  • Cool contests and giveaways.

  • Prepurchase upcoming releases.

What We Don't Like
  • Limited selection of older games.

  • Bare bones search feature.

Green Man Gaming is a digital distribution service founded in 2009 with a catalog of more than 5,000 PC games to download. While Steam is the largest download service for PC games, Green Man Gaming quickly gained fans through its aggressive pricing and discounts. Many games can be found with discounts of up to 75 percent off.

Like many brick-and-mortar retailers, Green Man Gaming offers a rewards program that provides incentives for frequent customers. Gamers can earn rewards through new purchases or trade-ins of digital purchases. Green Man Gaming also offers credit towards future purchases through friend referrals and user reviews of games.

Finally, through their social media platform Playfire, Green Man Gaming offers an additional rewards program that allows players to earn credits towards purchases by linking their Steam account to Playfire.

Through their rewards programs, competitive pricing, and its third-party referral program, Green Man Gaming has become a trusted service for serious PC gamers and a formidable competitor for Steam.

03
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GamersGate

GamersGate Logo

GamersGate

What We Like
  • Responsive customer service.

  • Lots of older games no found elsewhere.

What We Don't Like
  • Outdated interface.

  • Manual review process required for each purchase.

GamersGate is a Swedish-based digital distributor of PC games launched in 2006. It was originally operated by Paradox Interactive as a way to distribute games that were hard to find in traditional retail outlets. The GamersGate service has since been separated from Paradox, offering more than 5,000 PC games from major publishers and developers.

GamersGate provides many of the same games found on Steam and Green Man Gaming. Unlike those services, GamersGate does not require the use of a client to download and play. Instead, it uses a small program that opens a download client to download the game files to your local PC. Once the download is complete, the micro download program can be deleted and the game installed as if you had purchased a physical copy of the game. If a game uses Steam DRM, however, there may be a requirement to install Steam.

Much like Green Man Gaming, GamersGate provides discounts and incentives for purchasing games, including Blue Coins, a virtual currency that serves as a rewards program. Blue coins are earned through purchases, reviews, pre-orders, and user-created game guides.

GamersGate also offers what they call unlimited DRM, where they provide you with unlimited activation codes or serial keys.

04
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GOG.com

GOG.com Logo

GOG.com

What We Like
  • Classic titles configured to run on modern machines. 

  • Fair pricing and refund policies.

What We Don't Like
  • Limited selection of new releases.

  • Few multiplayer games.

GOG.com, formerly known as Good Old Games, is a Polish-based digital distributor owned and operated by CD Projekt RED. Started in 2008, it began as a DRM-free platform for updating and delivering classic PC games for modern systems. The service has since branched out to include more recent releases, such as CD Projekt RED's own Witcher series, as well as other titles like Assassin's Creed, Divinity: Original Sin, and others.

GOG.com has released its own client known as GOG Galaxy, which serves as a storefront and download manager. All games on the platform retain their DRM-free status.

In addition to DRM-free games, GOG.com offers a money-back guarantee that allows customers to return games within the first 30 days. GOG.com has also expanded its service to include Mac and Linux games.

The service provides extra downloadable content for games, such as wallpapers and manuals. GOG.com has a dedicated fan base and is the go-to service for those looking to play classic games.

05
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Origin

Origin Logo

Electronic Arts

What We Like
  • Early access to new releases.

  • Exclusive content for new EA games.

What We Don't Like
  • Shoddy technical support.

  • Slow download speed.

Origin rounds out the list of PC game digital distributors. It was launched by Electronic Arts in 2011 as a competitor to Valve's Steam. Origin has fewer games than other services, but being one of if not the world's largest video game publishers has advantages. Some popular EA game titles are available exclusively through Origin.

Origin contains some third-party games and a large catalog of older EA titles. It also allows users to register or add non-digital retail copies of EA games released after 2009.

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Amazon Gaming

Amazon Logo

Amazon

What We Like
  • Great deals for Amazon Prime members.

  • Thorough customer reviews.

What We Don't Like
  • Limited to newer titles.

  • Digital downloads aren't available outside of the U.S.

Amazon is a bit of a wild card in terms of the digital distribution of PC games. It offers virtually every new release in its library, which allows gamers to purchase online digital codes for games that are usable in Steam—often at deeper discounts than Steam. That makes it a great alternative option for purchasing the latest and greatest titles.

Where Amazon is lacking compared to other digital distributors is with older titles. There is a large gap when it comes to re-released classics, as well as titles that are two to three years old but only available in physical format.

07
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Blizzard Entertainment

Blizzard Entertainment Logo

Blizzard

What We Like
  • Exclusive content for Overwatch and other Blizzard titles.

  • Small selection of free games.

What We Don't Like
  • Blizzard Battle.net app required to play most games.

  • No classic Blizzard titles like the original Diablo or StarCraft.

Blizzard Entertainment first launched in 1996 with the release of the original Diablo fantasy role-playing game. While other distribution platforms have thousands of games, Blizzard's offering is made up of only those games that are part of the Blizzard franchises of World of WarCraft, StarCraft, Diablo, and Overwatch. (Overwatch is Blizzard's first new game franchise since the original StarCraft was released in 1998.)

Blizzard also offers Heroes of the Storm and Hearthstone games, as well as older legacy titles like Diablo II, WarCraft III, and StarCraft. While it sports one of the smallest libraries of games, it is one of the most used digital gaming platforms due to the immense popularity of these franchises.

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