It's a great time to be a gamer
Steam is probably the most well-known platform for PC games on the internet, but GOG (formerly Good Old Games) is rapidly gaining popularity due to its selection of classic games. That’s not the only reason, though.
GOG is also the leading advocate of DRM-free games on the internet. In other words, if you buy and download a game from GOG, it’s yours to own forever. You can burn it to a disc and keep it for posterity. Both platforms are worth having, but each one excels in different areas.
Regardless of which platform you choose, it’s a great time to be a PC gamer.
GOG Vs. Steam: Game Library and Ownership
When it comes to the sheer number of available games, Steam is the clear winner. With a reported library of over 10,000 games (and more added every day thanks to Steam Greenlight), the platform is a powerhouse of diversity. You can find every type of game you can think of, many of which are exclusive to Steam.
On the other hand, GOG only has a little over 2,500 games. The primary difference between games on Steam and games on GOG is that GOG is entirely DRM-free. If you purchase a game on the platform, it’s yours to own — period. Steam games perform a check to ensure you’re connected to Steam. In theory, it’s possible to lose your Steam library if Steam ever vanishes. While that isn’t likely to happen, it’s something to keep in mind.
As long as the games are downloaded, it doesn’t matter if GOG disappears. You’ll still be able to play all of the titles. GOG tends to focus on older, classic titles rather than new releases. That said, many of the latest AAA titles still see a presence on GOG.
GOG doesn’t have the indie presence that Steam does, however. Steam has many anime and eastern-developed games, while GOG focuses primarily on western games, ARPGs, and more.
GOG Vs Steam: Userbase
Steam reported around 120 million active users in 2020. That number constitutes the majority of the entire PC gamer base. Chances are, if you have a gaming PC, you have Steam. GOG doesn’t share this sort of data as openly as Steam does, so it’s difficult to pinpoint how many users the platform currently has.
That said, GOG saw a 208% growth over 2020, with a 392% growth in new user registrations. The platform is growing, even if it has a long way to go to compete with Steam.
GOG Vs Steam: Crossplay and Multiplayer
One of the most important considerations for a PC gamer is whether a game is a crossplay or not. If you want a DRM-free game, you might buy it on GOG — but if all your friends purchase the game on Steam and it isn’t crossplay, you’ll be playing solo.
Unfortunately, many GOG titles are not crossplay games. Instead, they connect to the GOG Galaxy servers rather than the Steam servers, although some games can connect through direct IP connections.
With this in mind, you’ll want to lean towards whichever platform your friends are on. Although GOG Galaxy allows you to connect your Steam account, the titles usually are not crossplay. If you are interested in single-player games, it doesn’t make much difference — but if you’re more interested in playing multiplayer titles with your friends, purchase the games on the same platform.
While both platforms have friends lists, Steam’s social services are far better implemented than GOG’s. There is still a lot of room for improvement on the GOG front, but it has a lot of promise.
GOG Vs Steam: Pricing
Both Steam and GOG routinely offer steep discounts on multiple titles. Between Steam’s summer and winter sales, as well as a host of other holiday sales, you can find games for as low as a dollar.
GOG tends to offer more themed sales, offering discounts for RPG or RTS collections, for example. GOG provides discounts on collections of games, especially if you already have titles in the franchise. It’s a great way to invest in the entire collection of a series.
Steam and GOG also have different approaches to refunds. Steam allows you to ask for a refund within two weeks, as long as you have less than two hours total of playtime. GOG has no playtime limits and allows users to request a refund within 30 days of purchase.
GOG Vs. Steam: Platform and UI
The Steam platform and interface have mainly remained the same since the platform first launched. There have been a few graphical improvements to the overlay, but it looks relatively the same that it always has. Steam doesn’t connect to many other platforms, although a few select games will support cross-saves between Nintendo Switch and Steam. You can also stream games from your PC to your TV through the Steam Link peripheral.
GOG Galaxy is a new platform that allows users to connect their Steam, Epic Games, Xbox, PlayStation Network, and more. Any games compatible with GOG will appear on that list, allowing users to download and play them on their PC for a limited time. This is a particularly great way to group all your titles in one place for easier searches.
Which Is Better for You?
Both Steam and GOG have their strengths and weaknesses, but neither is remarkably better than the other. If you want classic games with actual ownership, GOG is the best bet — but if you’re looking for an easy platform for online multiplayer with your friends, Steam should be your go-to platform.