Thursday Throwdown: Steam or GamersGate? You Decide!

Thu, Aug 12, 2010

Features, Industry

Welcome to another edition of the Thursday Throwdown here on Frisky Mongoose. This week, we take a break from the world of Facebook games to offer a look at the two biggest digital downloading services on the web, Steam and TriplePoint client GamersGate.

Before we do that, however, let’s recap last week’s event. Last Thursday, we pitted Playdom’s new game Market Street against Metrogames’ Fashion World for the title of best store simulator on Facebook. According to the current standings in our poll, Market Street is clearly your guys’ favorite game, bringing in a whopping 75% of the vote, to Fashion World’s 25%.

Back to the task at hand, as we compare Steam and GamersGate. For the unfamiliar, both Steam and GamersGate allow users to purchase and download games for both the PC and Mac digitally, eliminating the hassle of traveling to a traditional brick-and-mortar outlet and purchasing a physical product. However, while both have the same basic function, they do differ in their execution.

First, Steam is a program that must be downloaded to your computer. You can browse and purchase the games on the company’s website, but you must download them via the client. GamersGate, however, is completely browser-based.

Next, Steam allows for social networking features, such as friends lists, that allow you to add other Steam members as friends and subsequently browse through their purchased games, see their gameplay history and so on. In addition to this, Steam offers SteamWorks, which is a platform in and of itself, offering in-game achievements (where applicable – that is, not every game contains them), cloud storage (game saves are stored on the internet, allowing you to access them from any computer), and easy multiplayer game setup, all integrated directly within Steam. GamersGate contains none of the above.

Steam's User Profile System

However, what GamersGate does contain is a coin system and rewards program titled simply Blue Coins. Blue Coins are GamersGate’s virtual currency, earned by purchasing games or by simply participating in activities on the site, like pre-ordering games, reviewing games on their website, rating games, and becoming a game tutor, who helps other users with game issues or questions, among other methods. These coins can then be used to purchase games on the site, like a virtual gift card of sorts. In this way, user loyalty is highly encouraged, whereas Steam does not offer a rewards program.

Both sites offer frequent sales, with Steam offering major sales every Wednesday and weekend, with discounts up to 75% off the regular price, while GamersGate’s sales run continuously and usually offer a higher variety of games.

As for Mac and PC support, while both services allow users to purchase games for either platform, Steam allows for SteamPlay, which gives users the ability to purchase a game for one platform, and have it work on all platforms automatically. GamersGate however, requires you to purchase a special PCMac bundle of the supported titles in order to play them on both the PC or Mac. If you purchase a supported game through the PC only page, you’ll lose the opportunity to play it on Mac and vice versa.

GamersGate's PCMac Bundles

Another major difference comes when downloading games to multiple computers. Both services honor the DRM setting of the original game, however Steam adds additional DRM limits that require that you sign in online everytime you want to play a game on a new computer, meaning that the same account can’t be logged in on multiple computers simultaneously. This is significant for those who wish to participate in LAN parties, in that each individual user, no matter the vicinity to the original user, must purchase and download the game for themselves in order to participate. GamersGate, on the other hand, adds no additional DRM.

As usual, both of these services have their own distinct advantages, and can cater to different audiences. So which service is the best? Well, that’s up for you to decide, via the handy poll below! Which service do you rely on for your digital downloading needs? We’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject, so be sure to vote in the poll and leave us a comment below!

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- who has written 2533 posts on Frisky Mongoose.

Brandy is the Social Editor at Frisky Mongoose, focusing on the social side of the gaming world.

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