It’s a wonderful time to be a PC gamer with an internet connection and a credit card: if you know where to look, you can find a huge number of games for very, very cheap.
But knowing is the trick, so we’ve put together this handy guide that will point you in the right direction. All of the games from the stores mentioned below redeem on Steam, everyone’s favourite PC gaming platform.
Not only does BundleStars.com offer a whole bunch of games in each of its special bundles, but they make “dirt cheap” look expensive. New bundles are added every few weeks, and the line-up is actually pretty good. Take the Magicka Bundle, for instance, which was added only recently: it gives you the core game plus the fifty billion DLCs that have been released for it so far for the ridiculously low price of $4.99. That’s a lot of gaming for just over fifty Sarf Effrican ronts.
Sometimes the bundles are a bit rubbish (I’m looking at you, Vendetta Bundle), with only a few games actually worth your time, but it’s an entirely forgiveable offence as you’ll seldom pay more than $5 which most will agree is a pretty decent price even if only two games on offer are good.
They also have their own store that sells individual games for cheap, but the selection isn’t very good.
The Humble Bundle Store started out as a site that offers bundles of Indie games for cheap, but it has since evolved into a general game store that offers a variety of deals on a variety of games.
The main attraction is still the Humble Bundle that changes every two weeks, made up of a variety of games that you can buy for a minimum donation of $1. The genius of the store is that there are several tiers to each bundle: pay the minimum and you’ll get just a few games; pay more than the average and get more games, and pay more than a set amount and the entire bundle is yours. That set amount is seldom more than $20, giving you a whole lot of games for less than the cost of one.
Now, there are several bundles available at any one time, plus a general store that has its own discounts on individual games as well as a broader selection that includes mainstream, AAA games. These other bundles include books, audiobooks and/or comics, a weekly bundle that works the same as the Humble Bundle except it lasts for just one week, and just recently they added a Flash Bundle that is available for 24 hours only from 7pm on Mondays.
Play your cards right and the Humble Bundle Store can set you up with a great many games without emptying your bank account.
Ah, GMG. This site offers deals that boggle the mind on a regular basis: not only does it run regular sales on a wide variety of games, but it offers further discounts on top of those.
For instance, should you visit the main page you’ll see a bunch of games selling for a discount, and along the right side of the page you’ll spot a banner that says “20% off”. Normally, you wouldn’t think you could add that 20% off to the already-reduced prices, but Green Man Gaming lets you do exactly that.
They don’t stop there, either. They also offer a gaming programme they call PlayFire that tracks the games you play and gives you Green Man Gaming credit for starting new games, unlocking achievements and other things you’d do anyway. Should you also download and install PlayFire’s Vulcan client, you can also link to your PlayStation Network and Xbox Live accounts and earn rewards for the games you play on those platforms.
While Steam isn’t strictly-speaking a service specialising in discounted games, its bi-annual sales are legendary among gamers as being two opportunities to really stock up on excellent titles without spending a lot. Those sales happen in June and December/January, over Christmas and North America’s summer holiday; for the rest of the year, Steam offers mid-week and weekend specials, as well as Weekly Deals where games can be had for discounts as deep as 80% (although they’re usually between 25% and 75%).
Weekend specials also include the chance to play games completely free between a Thursday and Sunday night. This doesn’t happen every weekend, though. They also sometimes do publisher spotlights or put certain game on special during events like QuakeCon, where games are put on special for a few days. Right now you can get a bunch of Bethesda’s games for cheap, since QuakeCon is on this weekend.
GOG.com is an online repository of games of yesteryear. Or at least, that’s how they started; these days you can buy anything from select mainstream games to Indie titles from them. The beauty of GOG is their prices – games are typically priced at the $6 level, with some newer games – or some of the most popular older games – selling for $9.99 or more.
They also work hard to ensure game that came out many moons ago work on modern operating systems, often with the help of utilities like DOSbox. If you buy a game from GOG, you can be pretty sure that it will work on your PC, and if it doesn’t it’s probably not the game’s fault.
GOG is also a strong opponent of Digital Rights Management software, which they say doesn’t work. They’ve got a point – when was the last time DRM actively prevented pirates from getting a game to work? Never, that’s when. As such, every game sold on GOG doesn’t have any form of DRM attached, other than the odd requirement to log in to the developer or publisher’s servers, and those are few and far between.
GOG also has bi-annual sales where discounts of up to 90% are common, making it another popular destination for thrifty gamers around June and December.