Which PC Game Store Sells the Best Hidden Gems?
Savvy customers know to shop around. You’ll never find the coolest products if you limit yourself to just one store. With online PC game marketplaces, all you need to do is open a tab or launch an app to expand your purchasing possibilities. The internet’s freedom also means stores can focus on specific gaming niches, so they can safely coexist with mainstream juggernauts like Steam and the Epic Games Store. GOG.com and itch.io double down on vintage classics and indie curiosities, respectively. Which store should you use to make your gaming tastes a touch more hip?
Which Store Has the Most Exciting Library?
Video games shamefully try to pretend their own history doesn’t matter. By getting old games to run on new PCs, sometimes with nifty extra content, GOG.com (Good Old Games) already plays a vital role in this industry. Its library includes countless classics, such as the lost Blade Runner adventure game, Dead Space, the original Diablo, and Star Wars: Episode 1 Racer. These older games typically cost less money than newer games, even without a seasonal discount, so can you enjoy yesterday’s biggest hits for just a few bucks.
GOG.com pads out its non-retro library with a smattering of films (Indie Game: The Movie), as well as some contemporary games. GOG’s parent company, CD Projekt, also owns the Polish wizards behind modern masterpiece The Witcher III: Wild Hunt and the hotly anticipated Cyberpunk: 2077. However, don’t expect many online multiplayer titles.
If GOG has the games you forgot, itch.io has the games you never knew about. This store highlights artistic, underground indie games, often from marginalized creators and developers unafraid to wear their politics on their sleeves. Don’t let the pastel pink fool you, itch.io is positively radical. Take down gentrification in Treachery in Beatdown City. Read queer text adventures made in Twine. Play action games that mashup anime and Africa.
Along with affordable PC games, itch.io offers mobile games and free browser games. Even if you’re not a gamer, itch.io is still well worth checking out for its selection of soundtracks, books, comics, and physical tabletop games. While some indie games on itch.io have broken through to the mainstream, you’ll have to do your own research to figure out what’s worth getting since you probably won’t recognize these games sight unseen. Its biggest games, like A Short Hike and Manifold Garden, also typically appear in other stores and even require you to use another store to redeem their keys and launch them.
Who Offers the Better Shopping Experience?
GOG.com gives you the browsing options you want. You can search by different criteria like genre, price, and features. Check out recommended specs in case you aren’t sure these old games will run on your new PC. Read user reviews to help you make up your mind.
Perhaps because it knows users will need more help browsing the unfamiliar catalog, itch.io goes above and beyond with its browsing options. Along with price and platform, itch.io has filtering options that make your searches even more granular and accessibility-conscious. For example, you can search for “colorblind friendly Windows games under $10 that last a few hours and include VR headset support.” The randomizer even lets you set some filters to serve up a new game you’ve never seen before, which really plays to itch.io’s strengths. It also feels cool to discover and support a great new game and creator before anyone else.
Neither GOG.com nor itch.io force restrictive DRM copyright protection onto their games. That anti-corporate move feels appropriate for stores more concerned with history and independent progressivism. GOG.com lets you request refunds within 30 days. On itch.io, you need to contact support directly to get your money back.
What About Extra Features?
GOG.com and itch.io both offer desktop clients for installing and launching games. However, GOG’s client, GOG Galaxy, also acts as a useful hub for other game stores you may use. You can integrate your libraries from Steam, Epic Games Store, PlayStation Network, Xbox, and other video game stores. Unified social features let you interact with friends on other platforms, as well. Even if you don’t buy any games from GOG, GOG Galaxy may still be a useful piece of software.
Meanwhile, itch.io’s most useful extra features target people interested in making games, perhaps for the first time. Developers frequently provide updates on their work in the site’s Devlogs section. You can see which projects use which game engines, including popular consumer-friendly game development software. The community offers plenty of development advice and collaborators in the itch.io forums. You can even purchase assets for use in your own projects. With itch.io, fans will find numerous ways to offer creators additional financial support, including links to personal donation pages.
Shop Until You Drop
We highly recommend buying games on both GOG.com and itch.io. They both serve their respective and complementary niches quite well, and broaden your gaming tastes by looking to the past and beyond the mainstream. That said, if you’ve never ventured beyond the likes of Call of Duty and Madden, and don’t have much appetite to transition to something bolder, you’ll have a slightly easier time finding something your speed on GOG, as long as you embrace the pixels.