My train ride home takes me through Center City Philadelphia, and I’ll sometimes stop at the Market East station if I have a little shopping to do.
There’s a Gamestop just around the corner from the train platforms, and holy god, it’s a hell hole. The only non-PC gaming I do is on my daughter’s DS, so I could give a damn about console titles. Over the last couple years, with the market for trading in used console games increasing, Gamestop has pretty much abandoned any sense of presentation for PC games. They still have a couple shelves of PC games available, but it’s usually a pretty odd selection. New titles, some random old titles, and quite a lot of crap titles are mixed in together on the shelves.
A friend on The Well mentioned recently that he’s doing most of his PC gaming through Steam, and that’s a trend I’ve noticed in my own gaming. Between Steam and my Gametap Gold subscription, I’d rather do all my PC game buying online. I can look at a game requirements, trailers, and Metacritic scores through Steam, and sometimes I can download a demo before I decide to buy. Steam can carry a lot more titles than Gamestop can manage to stock in any sort of appealing manner, and Steam has the advantage of catching my attention every time they run sales on titles.
The Gametap Gold subscription is just as good for slightly older titles. For $60 a year, I get access to over 1,000 titles across a variety of genres. Quite a bit of it are games I’ll never play, but there’s more good titles in there than I’ll be able to get through in a year’s worth of play time.
Plus, there are older games that I did love playing that I somehow lost track of…”Hey Rick, can I borrow your copy of Fallout? I’ll get it back to you when I’m done…”, and it’s simple to download and play from Gametap without needing a library of boxes, disks, and licenses. The same is true with Steam. Both systems are convenient, easy to browse, and a pleasure to experience. Why the hell would I ever want to support the PC gaming clusterfuck at Gamestop?
I missed a lot of great single player games while I was an MMO addict over the last ten years, and I feel like a kid in a candy store with Gametap. Civilization IV and the Warlords expansion, Psychonauts, Beyond Good and Evil, both Homeworld titles, the Prince of Persia series, the Codemaster’s Colin McRae series, classis Bioware RPG titles and all the expansions, Fallout 1 and 2, the Dawn of War series, all the Sam & Max titles, Sid Meier’s Pirates, Overlord, the Hitman series, the Splinter Cell series, the Deus Ex games, the Stronghold series, Supreme Commander, Far Cry, S.T.A.L.K.E.R (which is wicked cool)…the list goes on and on. Sure, there’s stuff there I’ll never play, but $60 is a great value.
For the price of a couple games at fuckin’ Gamestop, I get access to a ton a great titles on Gametap. Steam brings me a lot of the new games that I might be interested in, and has sales on other older games that may not be on Gametap (although there’s some overlap between the two).
I don’t know that I’ll ever be a brick and mortar PC game buyer again.