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Are You Still Buying Retail? A Guide to Buying Online.

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May 28, 2009 9:57:01 AM

Current Deals:

GoG: - -

Impulse: - Supreme Commander Gold $19.95-

Steam: - Meridian 4 50% Off Fallout 3 50% Off-

Gamers Gate: - Buccaneer 75% off 1 Day only -

Direct2Drive: - Far Cry 2 + DLC $22.95 -

Introduction:
I used to be buy Retail and Retail only but times got tough and buying Retail got even tougher. I got tired of the snickering of the Best Buy Employee's who wouldn't know what good Graphics and excellent play was if it hit them in the face. There was the closure of Circuit City and the descaling of the Games Section at Walmart. Then there was the effort of trying to find those old but good titles that you just could never find. It was the sudden Price Increasing of Games that were $19.99 before Circuit City closed and were now $49.99 after. Maybe it was the one to many times I went to grab that torn up box at Gamestop and had some kid wipe his burgers on my new freshly cleaned jeans. All in all about a year ago I went from Retail Only Overspending Junkie to Bargain Basement Buying Bandit. I'm not here to tell you that I know it all or that I even did it right. I'm sure there are other sites I have missed and I am sure that before this thread is all locked up with no where to go that I'll have learned a few things myself. This is just to get you started. To point you in a General Direction and most of all to get you to a point where you get more Game for your Dollar.
These are my Five Online Game Buying Sites I use to get my latest Score. I'll tell you the best days to get your fix and what you need to check before you buy them.
Welcome to the Beginning of the End of Your Retail Shopping Days.

www.GoG.Com
Good Old Games
If you are looking for an Old Game that you just miss playing then this should be the first place you go. Hundreds of Games from the Good Old Days are just waiting to be played. If you can't find it here then put in a request as so many other people before you have and they'll do there best. I've watched this site develop over the last year and they are beginning to get games into their shelves that some might not be considered that old at all. Almost all of the games are at prices that even the poorest of us all could afford.
Best Days to Buy: Pretty much all of the games here are at their fixed price so no Weekend Deals but then again at those prices everyday is a weekend deal.
What You Need to Check: For Windows XP most of the games will run fine. For Vista check the Community Website to see if there were any problems and make sure you do so if you use Vista 64.
Other:

http://www.impulsedriven.com/
Impulse
Ran by Stardock, Impulse is the Application you will use to download and update any game you buy through this store. Stardock was more famous for their line of Windows changing GUI applications and then they began to delve into Gaming. The rest is history. When most of the Gaming Companies were jumping onto the Console Bandwagon these guys were just jumping onto the PC Gaming Train. When all the other groups were looking at DRM as their sole weapon against Piracy, it was Stardock who launched Sins of a Solar Empire, which was an excellent Game that required no Disk and had no DRM. The company is known to be very PC friendly and over all the Impulse Application can be useful. Downloading, Installing, and keeping your Games you bought through Impulse is both quick and easy. Tech Support (the one time I had to use it) was fast and courtious. In the last few months, Stardocks Gaming selection has grown from just a few titles to over a hundred. With there big play into Customer friendly DRM some companies are taking notice and Impulse is growing.
Best Days to Buy: There is no weekend deals that I have seen and prices drop frequently. The deals that do show up are usually week to month long deals that end up staying around forever.
What You Need to Check: Most of the Games on Impulse are fairly new and thus shouldn't have a problem with either XP or Vista.
Other: Games you buy will need Impulse to download


http://store.steampowered.com/
Steam
Ran by Valve, Steam is an application you use to download and Update the Games you buy through the Store. Overall there application is easy to use and straightforward. Steam is famous for their Week End Deals which can get you hooked to buying games in little to no-time at all. It's like Christmas Time every weekend. You just never know if your going to get that package from Aunt Judie with the Ugly Ass Sweater or that killer once in a lifetime Present. Steam also at times will host free weekend trials or a free day trial where they will allow Steam Members to play a certain Game for a period of time they have selected. Some major bonuses you get with Steam is that once you buy a game on Steam all you have to do is download the application onto your computer and the rest is done from the Application itself. You can download Steam onto your friends Computer, play your Games at his house, and not have to worry about taking a bunch of DvD's with you. But like many things that are to good to be true Steam does have some faults. Your Account is linked to your Games. If a Game can be played in offline mode then two people could use your account but pretty much because Achievements are linked to your Account it's just one person per Account. Two people cannot use the account at the same time. Patches can take a while to be done as the patches have to go through Steam itself. Recently, the game Hawx had major problems with the patching system as the game was crippled on release and required an immediate patch. People who bought the game ended up having to wait two weeks to play the game they bought. Still, overall Steam is one of the best Online Gaming Shopping experiences one can have. They actually make buying a game as exciting as Christmas.
Best Days to Buy: Fridays and Saturdays are the best days you can check for deals. Another good day is Wednesday as this tells you if there is going to be a Free Gaming Day or not.
What You Need to Check: The NonDisclosure Aggreement should be read and you should understand it completely before you buy any product from Steam. Once you understand the nature of the aggreement then you won't be in for a suprise. Before you buy a Game from Steam check on the Steam Forums for any problems that might be associated with that Game.
Other: Steam cannot be given or Traded to anyone else but you (and maybe your wife or kids). To do so will get the Account Banned which means you loose all the Games. Also you cannot buy two games and have them on the same account as the games all are placed in the Steam Folder. I have two accounts, one for me and one for my kid, thus if I buy a bundle and already have a game on one account I just get the bundle on the other.

http://www.gamersgate.com/
Gamers Gate
I don't have a lot of information on this as I'm just downloading my first game through them today. What I do know is they have excellent deals that are on par if not better than Steams. They also have Daily Deals that are simply amazing. Where with Steam you get an application that does the downloading and patch updating for you this one doesn't. What I have seen so far is that a small application is downloaded and once you click on that then the product is downloaded to a temp Folder. As I get more information I'll update this section. Overall, Gamers Gate is getting a massive reputation as the goto place to get games. On the Web Page where you download the game from is a link to the patch so updating to the latest patch is easy enough. The store also appears excellent, is simple to use, and professional in appearance. The selection of Games is close to around 900 titles.
Best Days to Buy: Everyday there is a deal going on and of course they have Weekend Deals that are on par if not better than Steams. You could rapidly go broke if you checked this site everyday.
What You Need to Check: When you begin to buy games online you'll begin to check them out more before you buy. Go to the Games Forums and see if people have had problems with the game you are buying. If people have been having problems then it might be better to wait on the purchase.
Other: Unlike Steam and Impulse you will have to manually Patch the Game yourself. For any other questions you may have check the FAQ in the bottom Right Corner.

http://www.direct2drive.com/
Direct 2 Drive
The process to buy and download the game is about the same as all of them. For Direct 2 Drive you will want to download the Download Manager if you don't have one already. To be honest I like the Direct2Download Download Manager better so I would use that. Overall there isn't a big difference between Direct2Drive and GamersGate with Direct2Download having just a little less titles. D2D also offers Prima Professional Guides that you can buy should you want. D2D also offers amazing deals on certain games through out the week with a special section of Deal of the Week and a 50% off Deal that is just short of amazing. Also you can usually find Games at a lower price on this price than Steam but the difference in price isn't that much... then again it can be!
Best Days to Buy: There is a deal going on everyday with multiple games having a deal so checking this site if your a serious or a Beginning Serious Gamer is a must.
What You Need to Check: See GamersGate
Other: Unlike Steam and Impulse you will have to manually Patch the Game yourself. A copy of the Games Setup Files are stored on your Computer so if you don't want to have it there you'll want to delete it.

I don't have any information about the Microsoft Download Sevice nor have I tried to get any DLC's for Fallout 3. I will and I plan on getting Gears of War through the Microsoft Service. When I do I'll put up my experience on what the process was like. Till then sorry I got worn out by the time I hit Direct 2 Drive and thus it was so short. Good luck in searching for those bargains.
June 6, 2009 7:19:00 AM

This weeks has some pretty good deals.
Steam has the Penumbra Pack for $5.00. That is all three games and from what I hear that is an absolute steal.
Gamersgate there is Kings Bounty for $9.99 which is normally at $29.99 and is also highly rated as a great game.

June 8, 2009 1:00:31 AM

Retail is only for console games, they ain't doing any downloading games yet (The regular titles, not the "Arcade" ones.)
Related resources
June 8, 2009 1:51:01 AM

I was under the impression if you buy extra copies of a game on steam that you have the option of gifting it to someone. As it stands right now, I have extra copies of HL2 and the episodes that steam says I can send off (which I fully intend to do).
June 8, 2009 12:16:28 PM

Depends. On the bundle deals more times than not you won't be able to gift the extra's off. I would be real careful on the bundle deals and the best bet is to just go to the forums and see if there had been any problems before you do any purchases.
June 9, 2009 3:23:48 AM

Gamersgate currently has 1C Week with all games made by 1C between 25% to 75% off. Cryostasis is $11.99 and Kings Bounty is $12.49. There is also a number of other games most I haven't heard to much about. I can vouch that even at $12.49 Kings Bounty is well worth the price.
June 9, 2009 6:40:10 AM

When I bought the Orange Box, I already had the first Half-Life 2. Was able to gift my extra copy to a friend.

And yes, GoG rocks. Great guide OP! :D 

Mods, any chance this could be made into a sticky?
June 9, 2009 8:12:39 AM

If this was stickied it would make it easier on me and others just to put up the week \ weekend sales as they occur. Either way I'll keep it updated for those wanting to see what the current deals are going on. I've been coming to Tom's since 1997-1998 so if I miss a week then that means something big has happened to me and somebody else needs to step in.
June 9, 2009 9:01:48 AM

Well, regarding Steam, they already have a tab listing all current deals if I'm not mistaken. Would be great to see a sticky maintained covering all the other digital delivery platforms though!
June 9, 2009 12:59:55 PM

i have bought games of steam and D2D but only for $9.99 sales. I like having a hard copy, it lets me sell the game on ebay after I'm done playing it unless of course you buy a game like FEAR 2 where you are screwed with a steam activation.

June 10, 2009 7:29:35 AM

I think I got all the digital delivery platforms for the US. I haven't bought any direct download games from Newegg yet and I think for Europeans there is www.play.com. I haven't bought any of the DLC's yet from the Microsoft Live for PC nor have I really used it. I understand the gist of it though. You buy points then you use those points to buy the DLC. The reason is so you don't get taxed or have to make these funky calculations from one currency to the next. If I have missed something let me know. I think I'm going to put the deals at the top and edit.
June 11, 2009 9:15:16 AM

Sorry Cuddles, I meant this topic should be sticked. Or at least your guide. People can always add other delivery platforms for the US, UK, everywhere! :D 
June 11, 2009 12:43:40 PM

thanks for the info cuddles I got kings bounty at gamergate last week for 9.99 what a deal. I am thinking of getting the 3 pack with cryostasis and 2 other games for 19.99. I probably never would have tried that site without your insight. The only downside is that games take a lot longer to download from them than from steam, but at those prices I'm willing to wait a little longer. Thanks again.
June 11, 2009 8:59:38 PM

I really appreciate the positive feedback and you are all very welcome. I plan on adding a little more down the road. I don't want this guide to get so big it becomes useless. I really want to give Microsofts DLC downloads for Fallout 3 a try but it's going to have to wait till next month (cat got hurt and spent up all my money).

One of the things I kind of disliked about the digital platforms was an inability to compare all the deals at just a glance. I think putting the Current Deals at the top puts the polish on this Guide and makes this Guide have a continuing usefulness for a long period of time. Most of all I just wanted to give something back to the readers of Toms Hardware.

At around $10.00 I'll give a game a try unless the reviews are just bad. Kings Bounty was a complete shock. Excellent graphics, a great storyline, fun to play, nice theme, unique fighting system, and high replayability. In fact they have an online scoring system per level which is kind of cool. I think as word of mouth travels that this game will begin to become one of those must have games and will have a following.

Any suggestions, errors needing corrected, etc would be most helpful. I'll try and keep the Current Deals updated and relevent. I don't think $10.00 off on DCS: Blackshark was a real deal so I'll use better judgement next week. The positive feedback was much appreciated. Thank You again.
June 16, 2009 4:23:46 AM

Direct 2 Drive just dropped the price for Far Cry 2 and the DLC to $22.95.
Steam dropped Dark Sector to $9.99 to June 22nd.
Gamers Gate has dropped Dark sector to $9.99.
June 19, 2009 10:46:19 PM

Steam has Empire Total War 50% Off
Gamersgate: has a number of 50% Off Sales and some Price Drops.
Direct2Drive doesn't have anything.
Impulse has some sales but nothing remarkable.

Sorry, both of my computers went down and just got them back up but still doing the loading.
June 20, 2009 5:33:04 AM

I don't recommend Direct2Drive, some of the games they have major installing issues even though I surpass the recommended system requirements. Steam is way better.
June 20, 2009 11:13:36 AM

I think I got one game off of Direct2Drive. Yeah, it was GRAW2. Was pretty easy to be honest. Gamersgate is also pretty easy. I should be fully up tomorrow. Had a HD crash, then I got sporty and started to disassemble and clean, switched around CPU Fans, and found out that the builders of my ATI Graphics Card sucked wankers.
Over all dropped temps on Comp 1 by 20C System and GPU by 50C. Comp 2 Temp Drops 20C System and GPU 60C. Both Computers running at a solid 38C (CPU) and 40C GPU on air. When I pushed them I hit about 60C on the GPU and the CPU never got past 45C. Also modded them a bit by using nylons and sound proofing foam. Wheee for not having to yell to hear over my computers.
June 27, 2009 10:19:05 PM

Updated with new prices.
July 1, 2009 8:37:23 AM

Adding http://www.gogamer.com/index.htm to this guide within the next couple of days. They offer games at really great prices. If there is other online gaming stores like this please let me know so I can check them out and put it in the next big update.
July 1, 2009 9:15:57 AM

I used to buy retail because I couldn't afford the bandwidth requirements of Steam. Now I just use Steam, although I don't get games often because most, quite frankly, suck.

Biggest retail store for games here is EB Games, and they still sell Crysis for $99.95 :lol: 
!