Top 7 PC Game Digital Download Services

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

Father And Son Concentrating While Playing Video Games Together
Tom Werner / Getty Images

According to recently released research, approximately 92 percent of global PC game sales now come from digital distribution services with sales of physical copies of games making up the remaining 8 percent of PC game sales. Anyone who has been to a Best Buy, GAME or other brick and mortar retailer lately can attest to the change that has taken place over the past few years. The shelves that formerly held game boxes have shrunken to now hold game cards and codes that can be used in various pc game digital distribution services such as Steam, Origin, or GamersGate. The list of digital game distribution sites that follows are some of the best PC game download platforms currently available, they are also a great way to legally find many classic PC games from early Windows and MS-DOS era of PC Gaming

01
of 07

Steam

Steam Logo

Valve

Steam is a PC game digital distribution service, social network and gaming platform developed by the Valve Corporation first unveiled back in 2002 and officially released in 2003. It has since become the defacto leader in PC gaming, providing not only a service to purchase and download games but also a thriving user community and gaming platform that hosts millions of concurrent users on different games at any given time.

Steam hosts thousands of games including most major releases, with exception of some EA titles that are exclusive to EA's completing platform Origin, and Valve developed games that are exclusive to Steam such as Dota 2, the Left 4 Dead Series, and Counter-Strike. In addition, Steam also provides digital distribution for many independent developers and their games, some of which have become extremely successful titles which would not have seen the light of day 10 years ago.

Steam has not been met with praise and admiration alone, however. In the early days, many gamers were resistant to Steam and the requirement that some physical copies of games required the Steam client installed in order to play. Over the years, however, this complaint has subsided somewhat as more and more companies have embraced the always online format and utilize the Steam platform for digital rights management. This has rankled competing digital retailers of PC games due to fact that games which use Steam DRM, require gamers to also have the Steam client installed even if they did not purchase through Steam.

02
of 07

Green Man Gaming

Green Man Gaming Logo

Green Man Gaming

Green Man Gaming is a PC game digital distribution service that was founded in 2009 and contains a catalog of more than 5,000 PC games to download. While Steam is clearly the biggest download service for PC games, Green Man Gaming has quickly gained fans through its very aggressive pricing and discounts. You're probably not going to see a hot new release discounted, but many games as little as 6 months old can found at discounts of up to 75 percent off at times and Green Man Gaming offers a very enticing rewards programs.

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 their digital purchases that can be turned into cash back or credit for new games. Green Man Gaming also offers credit towards future purchases through friend referrals and the submission of game reviews. Finally, through their social media platform Playfire, Green Man Gaming offers an additional rewards program that allows players to earn credits towards GMG game purchases by linking their Steam account to Playfire and then playing games and unlocking achievements to earn credits. Additional details on this program can be found on the Playfire Rewards page.

Through their rewards programs, competitive pricing/discounting and the third party referral affiliate program, Green Man Gaming has become a trusted service for serious PC gamers that has grown into a formidable competitor and alternative to Steam.

03
of 07

GamersGate

GamersGate Logo

GamersGate

GamersGate is a Swedish based digital distributor of PC games launched in 2006 that was originally operated by Paradox Interactive as a way of providing digital distribution of their library of games that were either not present or hard to find in traditional retail outlets. The GamersGate service has since been separated from Paradox and now offers digital distribution of more than 5,000 PC games from all major video game publishers and development companies.

GamersGate provides many of the same games that you will find on Steam and Green Man Gaming, but unlike those services GamersGate does not require the use of a client install in order 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. That being said, there still may be the requirement to install Steam if the game purchased uses Steam DRM.

Much like Green Man Gaming, GamersGate provides a great deal of discounts and incentives for purchasing games, including Blue Coins, a virtual currency which basically serves as their rewards program. Blue coins are earned through purchase, reviews, pre-orders, answering questions from other users and through submission of user created game guides. GamersGate also offers what they call unlimited DRM in which they will provide you unlimited activation codes or serial keys, however, existing/old keys will be disabled when new codes are sent.

04
of 07

GOG.com

GOG.com Logo

GOG.com

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

GOG.com has release their own client known as GOG Galaxy, which services as a storefront and download manager but all games retain their DRM-free status that GOG has become known for. In addition to DRM-free games GOG.com also offers a money back guarantee that allows customers to return games within the first 30 days if there are technical issues that they are not able to resolve. GOG.com has also expanded their service to include Mac and Linux games

The service also provides extra downloadable content for games such as wall papers and manuals. GOG.com has a dedicated fan base and is the go-to service for those looking to replay some of their older favorites or try out some older games they may have missed when first released.

05
of 07

Origin

Origin Logo

Electronic Arts

Origin rounds out the top 5 list of PC game digital distributors, which was launched by Electronic Arts in 2011 as a competitor to Valve's Steam. Origin has notably fewer games that other services but being one of if not they the world's largest video game publisher does have it's advantages. Some popular EA game titles are available exclusively through their Origin service.

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

06
of 07

Amazon.com

Amazon Logo

 Amazon.com

Amazon.com is a bit of a wild card in terms of digital distribution of PC games. If offers virtually every new releases in its library which allows gamers to purchase online digital codes for games that are usable in Steam, sometimes at deeper discounts to what Steam prices the games, making it a great alternative to purchase the latest and greatest titles.

Where Amazon is lacking compared to other digital distributors is with older titles, there is a large gap with classic titles that have been re-released as well as titles that are 2-3 years or older that were readily available on Amazon when released which but are not offered in digital format.

07
of 07

Blizzard Entertainment

Blizzard Entertainment Logo

Blizzard Entertainment first launched back in 1996 with the release of the original Diablo fantasy role playing game. While other distribution platforms boast 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, which is Blizzard's first new game franchise since the original StarCraft was released in 1998. Overwatch is pretty straightforward to play, by the way.

In addition to the latest titles from each of the before mentioned franchises, Blizzard also offers Heroes of the Storm and Hearthstone games as well as older "legacy" titles 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 their franchises.