Alternatives to Steam
The popularity Of Steam in the last few years has seen it become the premier PC gaming platform for good reason, it simplifies and centralises the PC gaming experience, taking the best parts of console gaming and maintaining the openness of PC hardware. Steamworks, not to be confused with the Steam client, is Valves platform API which gives developers a unified foundation in which to develop and integrate Steamworks features into their games.
There are issues however and if you are an Australian Steam user you know full well the price discrepancy that can be seen with some game releases. Also, some Steam features may or may not be to every ones liking. Games you do not buy from steam, cannot take advantage of any of Steams features making it a tough ask for a lot of people to put all their faith into one platform.
This begs the question, are there any alternatives to Steam? Of course there are and here are some of the best!
Green Man Gaming is a digital retailer of PC games based in London which sell games to over 89 countries. The most unique aspect to GMG is the ability for customers to trade-in their digitally downloaded games for extra credit in their account and this credit can then be used for new purchases.
Greenman Gaming also sell Steamworks based games which are not tradeable via their service but can be added to Steam. For certain regions, buying a Steamworks game from GMG is often cheaper than Steam itself which makes buying from Greenman Gaming all the more pleasant.
Origin is a revamped EA Store that allows you to purchase and play your favourite EA games. Features include an in-game overlay that allows you to chat with friends and browse the web while playing select games.
Origin's new social features allow you to create a profile, connect and chat with your friends, share your game library, and effortlessly join your friends' games.
The most interesting feature of Origin is the ability to register non Origin bought games and integrate them into the service - though this does not look to have been implemented at the time of this article.
A testament to the statement classics never go out of style, Good Old Games specialise in PC games from yesteryear and have a massive community of gamers eager to explore and return to a period when games were a little more complex.
GOG releases are completely DRM free and to ensure compatibility on newer hardware, are often bundled with emulation software like ScummVM and DOSBox depending on the game.
GOG is owned by Polish developers, CD Projeckt, famous for the excellent The Witcher series of games for the PC and their flamboyant public humour.
Impulse is a digital distribution platform from retailers GameStop that allows users to quickly and easily find their favourite game or software and download it automatically to their PC. In 1998 Impulse Inc. was one of the first companies to distribute its software via a free digital distribution program known as Component Manager and has grown to become the Impulse we know today.
Unlike Steam, pricing has been localised for the Australian audience using current exchange rates.
Besides games, Impulse also features applications, utilities, themes, available to purchase or download free and offers community centric features like in game chat, friend finding and online game searching.
Direct2Drive doesn't have a client like Steam and operates more as a traditional online shopfront. This fact alone is quite possibly a bonus for many users with no need for other features and prefer to keep digital downloads simple. Regardless of this fact, it is currently Steams biggest competitor.
Like GMG, various Steamworks games are also available making it another money saving option. There is also a price match guarantee where D2D will match any lower price offered by Steam and a few other digital content delivery networks.
D2D is owned by the online gaming rental service Gamefly who acquired the service from IGN earlier this year.