So you just bought a brand new PC, or just upgraded your graphics card and are now probably wondering what games to play on your rig. But before you can address that question, the bigger concern is where you should be buying your PC games from. Since the transition from physical, boxed PC games to a sadly almost all digital library, there are a host of options of where to buy your PC games from. These include the usual suspects like Steam as well as up and coming options like the Epic Games Store.
Now while some of these stores may have similar pricing, the differences go beyond this. Be it after sales, the sheer variety, or access to a massive community, not all PC games stores are created equally. Some demand to be installed more than others. Here's what you need to know.
The best PC games store for most people
Love it or hate it, Steam is the best option for most. Granted, Valve can do a better job of curating its wares to prevent wanton shovel ware from being listed or obscene, vulgar games like Rape Day, but the rabid outcry against a PC game not coming to Steam is easy to understand when you notice the features Steam has.
There's a pain free refund policy, access to walkthroughs, user forums, and soon, an events hub that allows you to highlight interesting activities in your games like tournaments, streams, or weekly challenges. Throw in cloud saves (upto 1GB per game), and the ability to stream games to another PC or your Android smartphone and there's very little amiss for consumers.
The downside though, is having to deal with an interface that's in dire need of an overhaul and a mobile app that may very well be you opening the Steam site on your browser. Hopefully the redesign slated for this summer fixes this issues.
The best PC games store for classics
GOG used to stand for Good Old Games but now it's just GOG. Sure, Steam may have a host of older titles that made it to GOG first like Planescape Torment and Shogo Mobile Armoured Division, but it's still worth installing.
For one, many of its games are DRM-free, which means you won't have to worry about an activation server going offline to prevent you from playing its many games. Secondly, some of its games like Diablo and Vampire The Masquerade - Bloodlines come pre-patched, which means you won't have to fiddle with config files to run it on a modern PC. It's a nice touch that goes a long way in making older games accessible. And thirdly, the GOG Galaxy client has its own cloud saves and achievements like Steam.
It's not perfect though. Those cloud saves are limited to 200MB per game and unlike Steam, there's no regional pricing. What this means is, if you're in India, you'll be paying the same $60 gamers in the US pay compared to the lower pricing we've seen on Steam. And while we love GoG's hardline stance against DRM, which means you're never at a loss when it comes to playing what you've bought, it also means that some game companies will only bring its oldest titles to the service rather than new titles.
The best PC games store for new games
The Epic Games Store finds a place on the list despite being derided by a vocal section of the PC games audience. If you want to play indie games like the superlative Hades from Transition and Bastion developer Supergiant, or the upcoming Control from Alan Wake creator Remedy Games, or Metro Exodus right now, you'll need the Epic Games Store.
Granted these titles will make it to Steam eventually, but right now, Epic Games Store is your only option. Even the likes of Borderlands 3, Detroit Become Human, Heavy Rain, and Beyond Two Souls are only on the Epic Games Store for now. The company has shown the inclination to pay for exclusivity though it has admitted that it may not always be the case in the future. Right now, however, the Epic Games Store is tough to ignore, regardless of your preference between big budget AAA games or independent fare.
It's far from perfect though, lacking basic features like cloud saves and a shopping cart, though a roadmap suggests some of these may be on the way.
The rest of the field
Now you're probably wondering why we haven't included the likes of Origin or Uplay or even Bethesda's own launcher or the Windows Store. That's because they're mainly used for games developed by the companies that own it, so FIFA PC is only on Origin, Fallout 76 is only on Bethesda's client for now, and regardless where you buy The Division 2 from, you'll need Uplay. They don't have the length and breadth of features that Steam has or the attention to classics like GOG does. Even Epic Games Store warrants an install due to the exclusive variety on offer alone.
So which PC game store is your favourite? What do you use the most? Let us know via the comments.
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