Steam may be the biggest name in PC gaming—with some 95 million users—but it isn’t the only option. There are numerous alternatives to Steam for buying PC games, some of which are objectively better.
In this article, we’ll go through eight of the best online stores to satisfy your gaming fix. Always be on the lookout for deals too, as a lot of these alternatives also have great sales just like Steam.
GOG, formerly known as Good Old Games, is a subsidiary of CD Projekt. Yes, the company behind The Witcher and the upcoming Cyberpunk 2077. Just as CD Projekt has numerous consumer-forward policies, so does GOG.com.
The site is a gold mine for old-school gamers. It provides updated and modernized versions of classic games, many of which once required DOSBox to operate properly. The games themselves are also all DRM-free. This means that you can download them to a CD and pop the CD into a drive 50 years from now and they’ll still work.
GOG Galaxy 2.0, the platform’s management system, allows gamers to link their accounts from different platforms all to a single source. You can see any compatible Steam, Epic Games Store, and even Xbox and PlayStation games all in one place.
GOG also has frequent sales, many of which reach discounts up to 90% off. If you’re looking for classic games (and you care about DRM free titles), GOG.com is worth checking out.
2. Humble Store
The Humble Store is best known for the Humble Bundles, periodic collections of games that follow a set theme and are usually available at a steep discount. Humble Bundles got their start as a pay-what-you-want system where the purchases went to charity and huge numbers of games could be had for pennies.
However, there is a traditional storefront in the form of the Humble Store. You can purchase any currently-available bundles (many of which include eBooks, royalty-free music for creators, and a variety of software), but you can also purchase individual games. The Humble Store has frequent sales, so keep an eye out for potential savings.
When you purchase a game, you typically receive a key for Steam, although there are some direct downloads. If you’re looking for the traditional monthly Humble Bundle, that’s still available too: a pick-what-you-want system that costs anywhere from $15 to $20 per month.
You can also access the Humble Trove, a collection of more than 90 DRM-free titles that are available to subscribers. Just download them and keep them forever, even if you cancel your subscription. It’s a great, fast way to bolster your library. Or your backlog.
Tired of the current state of the games industry? Are you seeking more innovative titles that break the rules, possibly because they don’t know the rules? Itch.io is all about indie titles. There are thousands of games available on this alternative to Steam, many of which are totally free.
Sure, you may end up wading through a waist-deep sea of shovelware, but there are plenty of hidden gems to be found that defy expectations and provide never-before-seen experiences. Itch.io is what happens when developers are given the freedom to create games they want to make without any oversight.
Many of the games that first launched on Itch.io have made their way to more mainstream platforms, including Night in the Woods, A Short Hike, and even Celeste. If you’re tight on cash or want to try something that strays from traditional gameplay formulas, give the site a try.
You can sort by categories like Popular, Top sellers, Top rated, and more — and then you can break games down farther based on tags like “Cute,” “Romance,” and “Anime.” Many games are free, but there are some that cost $20 or so.
Green Man Gaming is one of the better known sites for Steam keys, but what you might not know is that you can also get keys for services like Origin and Uplay. While there are frequent sales, many titles on Green Man Gaming (or GMG) comply with standard retail pricing.
On the other hand, you can sign up for their loyalty program called the XP Program. You’ll earn rewards, or XP, when you purchase games. Earn enough XP and you can level up into different tiers including Bronze, Silver, and Gold. Each level awards different discounts, free games, and more.
One thing to keep in mind is that GMG is not DRM-free unless the game is DRM-free. The company abides by the anti-piracy rules set forth by publishers. There’s no dedicated client, so you will download any purchases you make through Steam or another platform.
Epic has a lot of problems as a company, and there is a lot that can be said for anti-consumer exclusivity deals on the platform. On the other hand, no one can deny the breadth of options and the large number of free titles that Epic gives out.
It’s the newest alternative to Steam in the industry, but Epic has a lot of clout after creating the Unreal Engine as well as games like Fortnite. Due to its relative youth, the Epic Games Store hasn’t refined its interface to the same extent as its competition. Browsing the store can be a bit obtuse, and some users claim it has massive privacy problems that raise concerns.
Epic has secured enough exclusive titles and gives out high-quality free games regularly enough that it’s worth checking out, if only to see what sort of free games you can snag. It isn’t likely to compete with Steam anytime soon, if ever, but it’s a good alternative for gamers on a budget.
The Windows Store is built-in to Windows 10, but it can also be accessed directly through the website. The selection of titles is curated by Microsoft and is more limited than many of the other entries on this list. But you can find exclusives like Gears of War and Forza.
Some—but not all—titles are cross-play with Xbox and share saves and achievements. Most of the best options in the Windows Store can also be had through Xbox Game Pass, but you can also find PC versions of popular mobile games if you prefer to play with a mouse and keyboard rather than your phone.
It seems like every major company wants its own digital storefront and Ubisoft is no exception. Uplay acts as a sort of social hub and storefront in one, rewarding players for purchases or for completing “Classic Challenges” with Club Units. These Units can then be exchanged for in-game items like character outfits to discount codes for future purchases.
If you play Ubisoft games, you likely already have a Uplay account. Most games require you to create one to play, even those purchased through Steam. Although Uplay works nicely with Steam, it is required to play any Ubisoft game as many of the anticheat clients run through Uplay.
Uplay is worth checking out as it often offers discounts not available on other storefronts and sometimes has free-to-play periods for popular titles, giving players a chance to try the game before deciding to purchase.
Fanatical had a start similar to Humble Bundle: It offered large collections of games at incredible prices. It originally went by the name Bundle Stars, but later shifted to Fanatical—but it still has the same great prices.
Fanatical offers bundles of games for huge discounts up to 99% off their original price. Individual titles can also be found at steep discounts. In addition to games, Fanatical sells eBooks and educational materials, too.
Fanatical also has a Star Deal that is usually a specially featured game at a discounted price. When you purchase a game, you’ll receive a key for it on whatever store you buy it for. You can also find DRM-free games here.