No longer being required to have a physical copy of a video game was a big change in the industry. Collectors started freaking out, but those who only cared about playing the games have been delighted. With that change, a list of high-profile websites that sell digital copies appeared, and their popularity only continues to grow. But how should you pick the best one? In our opinion, reputation precedes everything. If you find a much cheaper price on an unknown website, the key has likely been stolen. To reward developers for their hard work and allow them to continue making great games, you should stick to the best Steam alternatives we’ve chosen for you.
Although initially best known to those that downloaded Fortnite, a popular Battle Royale game, Epic Games has blossomed into a giant. This is primarily because of their enticing offers – giving mainstream, often expensive games, absolutely free of charge. Although this happens every two weeks, it brought them a large influx of users. As it stands, Epic Games store sells the majority of AAA games for both PC, PlayStation, and Mac, and a lot of them are store-inclusive, such as Metro Exodus. Although the user interface isn’t as advanced as that of Steam, no one can deny that the concept of free stuff is alluring.
There are many benefits of Origin. But the main thing – it is a one-stop-shop for games created and published by EA. That means Sims, FIFA, Battlefield, Anthem, and NFL Madden will always be their priority. That doesn’t mean that other games aren’t present, but you’ll be better off buying them on their “native” stores. But Origin Access, a monthly subscription that allows you to play any game in their catalog, really makes a huge difference. Users of the subscription also gain a 10% discount on any game purchases. Origin also supports saving to Cloud, live chat, adding friends, and support for Twitch streaming, and often offers their users a 10-hour trial of their upcoming games.
What Origin is to EA, UPlay is to Ubisoft and their collection of games. We’ll mention only some of the games you can buy at a good discount – Assassin’s Creed, Tom Clancy’s, Far Cry, and Watch Dogs. Plus, their users are often given freebies such as older versions of said games that often sold for $60 in the past. Plus, any game purchased awards you XP, which you can later use to get further discounts or purchase badges to brag to other gamers about. Unfortunately, Uplay has received bad rep among Steam users. Any Ubisoft game purchased on Steam has to be run through UPlay, forcing you to download the software, whether you like it or not.
GOG, short for Good Old Games, is something of a unicorn. Any game on their store is DRM-free, which is a rarity. While that makes them easy to pirate, the games are truly yours once purchased, whether for Windows, Mac, or Linux. Burn them to discs, copy to an external hard drive, or borrow to a friend – you’re in the right. Although it focused on indie games in the past, GOG has come a long way and sells The Witcher 3, No Man’s Sky, Divinity: Original Sin 2, and plenty of other games. Their desktop client, GOG Galaxy, allows for cloud saves, friends lists, game shopping, and automatic updates, among other features.
With the popularity of PC gaming, mainly via Windows, and Microsoft’s brand of consoles, Xbox, it is no wonder that they run their store. It used to be terrible, and people looked for ways to avoid it. Nowadays, you can use it to cross platforms. That means you can play games for a small monthly fee without purchasing them (Xbox Game Pass), which often includes 200+ games at any time. Plus, purchasing a game on PC grants you the same game for Xbox, and great vice versa. And not only that – Microsoft’s constant updates allow you to play your Xbox exclusive games on your computer.
Although it was present since May 2010, the platform came to prominence in March 2017, when they launched their community gaming platform, similar to that of Steam. Except for purchasing games, you can also chat with friends, read game stats, reviews, receive automatic updates, and even better, watch Twitch streamers play the game on PC, Mac, or consoles. You’ll also find exactly what you expect – games in Early Access, and discounts that go up to 90%. We were also pleased to see that GreenMan Gaming works hard on promoting indie games and offers amazing deals on them.
Although the website itself looks reminiscent to a lot of illegal key sellers, don’t let that fool you. GamersGate is a legitimate company and one that combines the best games from various publishers and strives to include indie game developers into the fold. In the spirit of bringing everyone together, you can earn Blue Coins, their virtual currency, which lends great benefits. You can earn them by regular activities such as purchasing games, as well as being a Tutor. Tutors participate in the world-wide effort of conquering chapters and levels of games to showcase them for others who can access them at no additional cost.
An all-encompassing one-stop-shop for purchasing games is G2A. And because they sell digital game keys and aren’t tied to a certain game publisher, they offer a wide variety of both AAA and indie games. What sets them apart are their charity efforts, through which they raise money through game purchases and 24-hour streams. What piqued our interest is the Random Key feature. By paying a very small price, you essentially spin the wheel and receive a code. You only discover the game you got when you enter the code into Steam. Plus, you can take advantage of the referral system, and earn discounts that way.
We’ve left this one for the ninth place because gamers usually purchase games one by one, as they come out. And while this is possible here as well, Humble Bundle decided to distinguish themselves by creating curated bundles of videogames and offering them at a discounted price. You sign up for a monthly subscription and not only achieve a great discount for purchasing in bulk, but also often bonus indie games. Additionally, their community has donated over $184 million between 2010 and the mid-2020 to charity, which is commendable.
10. Game Jolt
Last but not least, Game Jolt also offers an amazing game collection. However, it is focused on indie games rather than massively popular AAA ones. With that in mind, it is a perfect destination for those that are always looking to play new games. They are all split into tags and categories/genres, just like on Steam, so you’ll feel right at home. The majority of the games are still largely unknown. For that reason, you often have a “Name Your Price” feature, e.g. pay what you want for them. Finally, Game Jolt gained prominence for hosting a wide variety of FNaF (Five Nights at Freddy’s) games. They are very popular among streamers and content creators.