Game Distribution Platforms
I am aware of the following online videogame distribution platforms.
These platforms allow you to create an account, buy a game, and keep track of it in your account. You can download it later, even after a few years, by logging in to your account. As such, they are different from an online-store, where you can only download it at the time you buy it, but not later.
Note that many platforms provide keys to download bought games on other platforms as well. In particular, many platforms provide Steam keys.
|Name||Platforms||Number of mac OS titles||DRM of own platform||Distribution|
|Steam||Windows, mac OS, Linux||Most commercial games. 2000 titles in 2015, 11,000 titles in 2022.||DRM||Direct download|
|Apple App Store||mac OS||Commercial and individual developers. 7000 titles in 2015||DRM||Direct download or subscription fee|
|Humble Bundle||Windows, mac OS, Android||Mostly Indie. 1100 titles (500 DRM-free) in 2015. 3800 titles (1100 DRM-free) in 2022.||DRM-free||Steam, Origin or direct-download|
|Gog||Windows, mac OS, Linux||Old and Indie. 500 titles in 2015. 1300 titles in 2022 (all DRM-free)||DRM-free||Direct download|
|Gamersgate||Windows, mac OS, Linux, Android||1200 titles (500 DRM-free) in 2015 1100 titles in 2022||Left to publishers||Steam, Uplay, Origin or (rarely) direct-download|
|Epic Games store||Windows, mac OS||Did not exists in 2015, 300 titles in 2022||Left to publishers||Direct-download|
|Origin / EA Desktop||Windows, mac OS||EA games only. 30 games in 2015, 16 titles in 2022||Strict DRM||Direct-download or subscription fee|
|Microsoft store||Windows, XBox||N/A||Unknown||Direct-download or subscription fee|
|Uplay||Windows, Console, iOS||Ubisoft games only||DRM||Direct-download|
Number of titles was measured in June 2015 and February 2022, by counting the number of Mac games, excluding downloadable content (DLC).
The DRM enforced by Steam is that you can only play a single game from your library at the same time, counting games played on other computers, or shared with family members. Origin has a similar DRM, but also enforces that this with the purchasing shop. This means you can't gift games to others, and if you purchased an EA game at Steam, both Origin and Steam launchers must be running, and are enforcing their DRM at the same time. Games in the Epic store may also have DRM, but that's enforced by the game, not by the Epic launcher.
Most distribution platforms take about 30% of the cost. Humble Bundle only keeps about 10%, although that excludes about 6% for transaction fees, and another 10% for charity. For a slightly more recent overview, Mana marketing blog posted a 15+ indie-friendly platforms guide. Apple is most expensive with 30% (15% for subscriptions after the first year) and $100/year. Steam requests a $100 up-front fee to prevent fake games submissions, which is re-imbursed after the game sells $1000 or more. Gog offers an option to pay royalties in advance to developers, in exchange for a fee of 40% instead of 30% (until the royalties have been paid of).
The prices of all platforms are usually the same, although in particular Steam often has deep discounts (up to 80%) during summer and Christmas season. Humble Bundle has weekly bundles which are 'pay what you want'.
- merged into GameStop
- merged into GameFly Digital
- merged into Green Man Gaming
- Games for Windows Marketplace
- merged into Xbox Live
- OUYA (open source console)
- defunct since 2015
- went bankrupt in 2015 and 2020, and now contains free-to-play web games only
- GameFly Digital
- transformed into a regular show.
- Now seemingly sells retro arcade hardware. Nice, but no longer a game distribution platform.
Regular stores, like Amazon.com may also offer direct downloads.
Many publishers, like Telltale or Auran, offer their own digital download solutions.
G2A.com offers a marketplace, seemingly for second hand games (though I'm not clear how this works, it's not always possible to transfer the usages rights between accounts on game distribution platforms).