Now that the public spectacle of the release (some would say bungled release) of the X Box One and competing Playstation 4 are fading in the rear view mirror, let’s return to where gaming really began- on the PC. Consoles can be great; they offer developers a stationary target for development by ensuring that everyone has the same specs, and newer consoles are offering more value through added functionality (Blu Ray drives, streaming media, social media connectivity, etc.). While it can be fascinating to watch the two major players fight for dominance of the living room (I can’t consider Nintendo to be in the same category) let’s not forget that consoles are still playing catchup to the humble desktop. While Apple will likely never embrace Blu Ray (labeled a ‘bag of hurt’ by the late Mr. Jobs) even the least expensive Mac Mini can surpass any console in nongaming value-added functionality.
For years my go-to source for games has been Steam. Their ‘iTunes for gaming’ model has been a boon for PC gamers of all tastes- Windows, OSX, and now even Linux. It offers one stop shopping for everything from cutting edge games to classic casual games a la PopCap, and often at a significant savings compared to other sources. I’ve picked up several big title games a few months after they were released at an impressive discount (most recently Borderlands 2 for $29.99), and having cloud access to your purchases means never having to archive an install disc again- just install the Steam client and re download. The OSX App Store has (somewhat) risen to the challenge with a decent library of games, but overall it can’t compare to Steam’s library, cost, and social functionality (I have absolutely no use for Game Center).
While Steam is in no jeopardy of losing it’s spot on my iMac‘s app dock, I have to admit I’ve come to embrace a competitor: Gog.com. I stumbled across an post of a big summer games sale via a blog post in a random RSS feed, and always being open to a new avenue for gaming decided to click through. While they lack the One App to Rule Them All approach Steam offers, Gog.com does offer an enticing library of titles coupled with the same sort of cloud access its established competitor has. Best of all, they sweeten the deal by offering a surprisingly large number of titles free if you sign up for an account. I’ve been playing Torchlight for about a week now; while not exactly a new concept for a game the dungeon crawler has been very fun (and is reminiscent of a favorite oldie Nox).
More is usually better, and in the case of free/inexpensive games it’s better than bad, it’s GOOD. Gog.com’s No DRM summer sale is still ongoing- check it out while it lasts.
- Steam game sharing features spotted in beta code (HEXUS.net)
- Steam Might Soon Let You Share Your Games With Your Friends (kotaku.com)
- Free Online Game Services Offers More Wallet Relief (savings.com)
- Console Wars: Which gaming system is right for your family? | Babble (babble.com)
- PS4 & Xbox One vs indies: the studios speak – part one (vg247.com)