Decmeber 21 2010
The variety of game software and services that are available directly over the Internet is constantly growing, and it can save you a trip to the store if you are pressed for a last minute gift. Quite a few games can now be downloaded rather than installed from CD, and there are online subscription services to fit almost every gamer's needs.
Most people will want a box to wrap, but if it's too late for that, or you can't find the game in stores, Steam is a great alternative. Steam itself is a small free program which makes it possible to purchase and download all of Valve's games, as well as a growing number of other titles. Call of Duty: Black Ops, Civilization V, and Battlefield: Bad Company 2 are very popular this year, but there is a huge selection and they have regular sales, even during the holidays.
Direct2Drive is a service offered by IGN Entertainment that allows you to purchase and download a variety of popular PC games directly from their Web site. They have many of 2010's top PC releases, including Call of Duty: Black Ops, Civilization V, and Medal of Honor. It's a good place to find MMORPGs and a heap of games that you don't often see on store shelves anymore. They also make it possible to send gift downloads by email.
The Blizzard Store has downloadable versions of all of Blizzard's key games, including Starcraft 2 and World of Warcraft. If you know someone that still needs the Cataclysm expansion for WoW, it's also available. Many people are already immersed in the game, so additional game time might make the perfect gift. For those that can wait, some of their figurines and character prints are pretty cool.
For the casual gamer who enjoys traditional card and board games, this site from Electronic Arts is among the best around. Card games, backgammon, word games, trivia games, and pool are just a few of the offerings, many of which include substantial cash prizes. A subscription is very affordable and gives you access to popular member-only games in an ad-free environment.
Sony Online Entertainment is a leading developer of MMOGs, so it stands to reason that some of their products can be downloaded, including full games. Titles available include EverQuest II, Star Wars Galaxies, Vanguard: Saga of Heroes, and Star Wars: Clone Wars Adventures. It's also a good place to buy additional game time for SOE games, and trading card packs for Free Realms.
If you know someone that likes Flash and Shockwave games, a subscription to Shockwave Unlimited might be just the thing. Unlimited is Shockwave.com's premium service, offering exclusive games and access without ads or time limits. Bookworm, Pool, Solitaire, and Collapse are just a few of the classics available, some of which have multiplayer options. You have 10 days to try it for free, and if you cancel during that time you won't be charged.
Some hardcore gamers always seem to be downloading large demos, trying to get into the latest beta test, or looking for a better server to play their favorite game on. A FilePlanet subscription gives you access to FilePlanet download servers with no wait times, exclusive betas, use of the GameSpy network with no ads, discounts on Direct2Drive, and more.
People of all ages can enjoy a good arcade, word, card, or puzzle game. We have a variety of casual games for purchase and download right here on About.com, including Bejeweled, Bookworm, Sudoku, Mahjong, Zuma Deluxe, Texas Hold Em, and many others.
GameTap is a service that launched in 2005 to bring hundreds of classic video games to your desktop over a broadband Internet connection. Since then they've expanded their selection to include new releases, and they've also started offering a variety of payment plans. You can purchase and download individual games like other services, or you can subscribe for access to a large selection of games. For the nostalgic they have old Atari 2600 and Sega Genesis titles. They also have newer titles such as Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and Dragon Age: Origins.
Still stuck for a gift or two? Instead of pondering which game to buy, you might want to consider a gift certificate. Thanks to modern technology, you can now purchase them online, order a paper version, send them by email, or even send them via a Wall post on Facebook!