In May 2011, GameStop announced the purchase of Impulse, in their effort to “provide a customer-friendly and publisher-friendly way” to deliver “gaming in many locations and on many devices. Impulse wants to be Gamestop is the company’s answer to Steam sharing many similarities with Valve’s service but lacking the years of experience Valve has in the game.

Impulse has a wide selection of games and their database is similar to the one found on Steam. Newer games like Counter Strike:Global Offensive and Galaxy on Fire 2 FULL HD Prelude can be found, along with preorders for upcoming games, but navigating the catalog is clunkier than Steam. A large collection of smaller and independent games are also available over Impulse, just like Steam.

When it comes to older titles you’ll be surprised to find out that the beloved strategy game Total Annihilation can be bought through Impulse, but not through Steam, but unfortunately for Impulse, this is not the general rule. Notable classics, like Vampire: The Masquerade: Bloodlines and X-Com: UFO Defense aren’t available on Impulse, but you can find them on Steam. In a bizarre twist from January 2012 Impulse,offers a few of Valve’s hits for download. This is the first time Valve’s games have been made available on a digital service outside of Steam. Portal 2, Left 4 Dead, Half-Life and The Orange Box are now available via Impulse. You’ll still need to register the games through Valve’s Steam client, though.

Game prices run approximate to retail prices the standard $49,99 for new blockbuster releases,  but Impulse offers regular sales to offset the cost of prominent games. The service offers a daily deal where a major title gets a solid discount, usually around 50%.

After you purchase a game installation functions in nearly the same way as Steam’s installation process: each game is downloaded and installed locally to its own directory and connected through the Impulse browser for launching. Multiple systems can access the same account and install the same game, but only one can be logged in to the account at a time.

Last July it was revealed that GameStop is considering the resale of digital content. “It’s very interesting,” said GameStop CEO Paul Rains while speaking with GameSpot. “There are some technologies out there in Europe, and we’ve looked at a couple that are involved. We’re interested; it’s not a meaningful business yet. Right now we’re not seeing that as a huge market, but I think we’re on the leading edge. There are a few companies, a few startups, out there that we’ve talked to that are doing this.” Adding the ability to resell games you’ve bought in the past would give it a very unique selling point. Making even just a few pounds back from a game you’ll never play anymore would make buying games there much more attractive.

All in one Impulse is doing a very good effort to compete Steam by incorporating  tons of multiplayer features, including friends lists, forums, and even an IRC client but even though they do a very good job, these don’t feel as integrated or complete as Steam’s features. Impulse might stand up against Valve’s service some day, but it needs a lot more polish first., where the GOG stands for Grand Old Games, is a service specifically for old-school gamers. Here you can find computer games from the 1990’s and early 2000’s, like Baldur’s Gate, Alone in the Dark, Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura, and Crusader: No Remorse.

The majority of the games found on are titles that used to run in early Windows platforms the service delivers games in DOSBox format, with all settings to emulate the right system for the games to run properly on Windows 7, Windows Vista, and Windows XP.

The website went through a total re-design last March in the company’s effort to sell new PC games alongside old. Trine, The Whispered World, Botanicula, and Legend of Grimrock are examples of ‘new’ games available right now, while more titles are expected to launch in the near feature.

Still old games are almost the entirety of’s selection, with hundreds of classic video games from the last two decades like Gabriel Knight, Blood, Betrayal at Krondor, Giants: Citizen Kabuto, Shogo: Mobile Armor Division, and Privateer. When viewing the list of games on the site, you can filter listings by genre, rating, price, as well as the original publisher and developer. The list can also be sorted alphabetically, by rating, or by the date it was added to GOG.

Most of the games found on retail either $5.99 or $9.99. There are exceptions of course as Witcher 2 retails for $49.99 while games like Dragonsphere, Tyrian 2000,  Lure of the Temptress and TeenAgent are available with extras, completely free. What makes Gog special is that most games come with bonuses, like scanned PDFs of manuals, wallpapers, and even soundtracks. Perhaps the best example of these goodies would be the original Fallout. The game comes with the manual, an artwork pack, two avatar packs, two soundtracks (in-game and original), the design bible, a reference card, and two wallpaper packs.

After purchasing a game, it appears in the list of games on your account page. From there, you can download the game using your web browser, or add the title to a download queue. GOG has released a small downloading app that will then download the game and has the ability to pause and restart downloads. When you buy a game you will always be able to download that game while it is also transferable between any Windows computer. GOG are now offering a new, faster than ever downloader, which integrates support for downloading game patches, goodies, and notifications to keep GOG users up to date on changes to games they have purchased, replies to forum threads, or PMs.

Since most of the games found on this service are games were developed long before Steam is not a service if you want a multiplayer experience, however the company keeps constantly adding new features like the new revamped Community Wishlist which allows users to suggest, vote, and discuss games and site features they’d love to see on All in one if you want to jump into the history of PC games, this is the site to use. .


Desura, developed by DesuraNET for Microsoft Windows and Linux platforms, is the only distribution platform supporting Linux with a client. The platform offers games and related media online, with a primary focus on small independent developers rather than larger software houses.

Notable developers who have games on their service include Frozenbyte, Frictional Games, Introversion Software, Basilisk Games, S2 Games, and Running with Scissors, Inc., as well as selling many games that were previously included in Humble Indie Bundle initiatives as well as numerous other commercial titles. They also have several different freeware and free software games available through their service.

Setting up an account Desura is as easy as all online services,it’s the same manner you register for a website. Activate the account from the email and log-in to Desura. The developers from DesuraNET provide a tar.gz file for the Linux platform which contains an installer. Just set the file as executable and run it. The software will do the rest. Some will state that Desura’s design is a lot similar with the one used by the Steam client and they are probably be right.

Desura is very easy to navigate as the presence of a series of tabs, each one playing a specific role is extremely helpful. The first one is called Play. This acts as a library where all the free and purchased games, linked with the account, are shown. It’s a simple system that keeps track of all the player’s acquisitions.Once installed, the gamers just need to hit play. If the game has some dependencies that are not installed, Desura will install them for you. Desura also offers community features, automated game updates, and developer resources.

The second tab is Games where users can choose to browse the games by genre, such as action, strategy, RPG, sport, driving, etc. They also have access to other media assets such as images, trailers, audio and RSS. The third tab is Community. Here, users of Desura, can join groups to speak with other fans, through the forums, read blogs or create new ones, and check out various statistics. The fourth tab is called Development and it’s aimed at third-party developers, like the creators of mods. There is also a fifth tab, Support, that gathers all there’s related to Desura from the Internet, like Facebook, Twitter, the official forum and the blog of the developers.

Digital distribution services are rare on Linux. Desura is one of the first serious software clients on this platform and it’s here to stay.



As one of the earliest and one of the best PC game distribution systems currently online, Valve’s Steam service is a must-have for any PC gamer. Nearly every major publisher and most notable independent publishers use it, it offers lots of community and multiplayer features, it regularly offers sales and discount publisher bundles, and it even supports the Mac for some of the bigger names in PC gaming  but it’s not alone in the field.

Impulse stands as Steam’s biggest competitor, with a big library of games. Unfortunately, its multi-player and community features are underdeveloped. EA wants to become the prime online game retailers but even if EA makes many great games, it doesn’t make all the great games, and if you have to switch between different publisher-based game stores to buy and play different games, it loses most of the convenience. is one of the best resources for legitimately purchasing classic PC games from the 90s and early 2000s, but retro gaming isn’t for everyone. Thankfully the company seems to have taken the message and sporadically offers new releases as well. Last but not least Desura has its own audience as it is the only distribution platform supporting Linux with a client and it is distribution agnostic. Desura is also the first to support all three PC platforms of Linux, Mac OS X and Microsoft Windows.

With that said, while Steam is a no brainer when it comes to digital game distribution as the service is at least a few steps ahead of its competitors. The service has forever changed the face of the digital marketplace, and PC gaming in general.  Luckily for the rest, Steam can’t do everything or provide every game made, and still has plenty of issues (ethical, service, mod-wise). Furthermore, there are many developers and publishers who believe that the more Valve’s marketshare grows, so does their control over not just the digital marketplace but also developers and the PC Market in general.

They firmly believe that they would be benefited if Steam had some viable competitors that would eventually lead to even higher quality products and services at lower prices. One thing is for sure, the gaming industry is on the verge of a massive shift, and digital distribution are starting to become the new dominant force.