UbiSoft recently threw it’s hat into the Digital Distribution ring with it’s own Uplay service.

Like it or not, digital distribution is here to stay. It doesn’t have to be a bad thing though. For a PC gamer like me, having my games on Steam and downloading them whenever I get a new computer beats the shit out of having to install all my games from disc and entering in product keys. For a console gamer, you can pick up some of the best current and old-school games without leaving your couch. Heck, for smartphone users, you can access fun games with the click of a button. Console development is leaning towards digital distribution, and PC gaming has already been there for years. Several digital distribution services have popped up, each with their own selection. Here are 5 of the best, chosen by their selection, prices, and ease of use.

Steam (PC, Mac, Linux)
Valve’s platform was first released in 2003 and was used to deliver its games to PC users. In 2005, the company included games from third party publishers such as Namco, Capcom, and Activision. Although it wasn’t the first PC digital distribution service, it’s the biggest and most robust. Since its debut, it’s added several unique features such as social networking, achievements, and a ‘Big Picture’ mode, allowing users to navigate Steam on a television. The company has also began to dis-gaming software over the network as well. Daily and weekly specials round out the package. Today, Steam has the biggest variety and selection of mainstream and independent releases, and it has one of the easiest to use navigation interfaces.

GOG.com (PC, Mac)
GOG.com’s big hook is that it sells its games with no Digital Rights Management. Since its launch in 2008, GOG.com has specialized in re-releasing classic PC games for low prices, usually including several extras. Recently they have expanded their focus to more recent games (such as it’s sister company CD Projeckt’s Witcher series), as well as independent titles. Thankfully, the company still maintains its commitment to re-releasing classic titles. Just recently they re-released the controversial Carmageddon, and old school fans can also find classics such as Balder’s Gate, King’s Quest, and SimCity 2000. The company also has a number of games available for free. The company has recently been made available to Mac users as well. For old school computer gamers, GOG.com is the be to check out classic PC games of yesterday, and new school gamers will want to check out the classics as well as the newer indie releases.

Wii Shop Channel (Wii)
When the Nintendo Wii was first announced, it’s biggest hook (besides the motion sensing of course) was the fact that players could download games from Nintendo’s back catalogue. As more details were announced, it was revealed that not only could players download Nintendo games, but Sega Genesis, TurboGrafx-16, Neo Geo, and others. Alongside the old school classics available on the Virtual Console, there aree new games on its WiiWare service, many of them being exclusive to Nintendo. The 3DS has a similar shop, as players can purchase classic Game Boy and Game Gear titles.

Playstation Network(PS3, PSP, PSP Vita)
When the PSN was first concieved, it was clearly ‘inspired’ by the additions to the revamped Xbox Live and WiiWare, with players being able to purchase old school Playstation games from the service. Howeve, there is nothing wrong with that, as the PS1 has its own selection of classic titles. With the Playstation plus, players can even get free games as well. While Sony often gets accused of copying ideas from its competitors, it often results for good things for consumers.

Xbox Live Arcade/Xbox Marketplace(Xbox 360)
On the original Xbox, Xbox Live Arcade was little more than a joke, with a small selection of arcade and casual titles available for anywhere between $5 and $14.99 that you had to launch using a disc. However, when the Xbox 360 was released, the entire service was revamped. It was integrated into the system dashboard, and the selection of games expanded tenfold. Players could not only purchase casual titles on the service, but developers also published games such as Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Moon Diver, and Hard Corps: Uprising that would have been triple A retail titles if they had been released two or three console generations ago (and in the case of Castlevania, it was a retail release). Microsoft also included the Games on Demand service, where players can download recent Xbox 360 releases, and an Indie channel, where gamers can download games that have been made using the XNA platform. (In fact, you’ve seen several of these games featured as $20 GOTWS.) While the service loses points for navigation issues, the Marketplace has one of the biggest selections of games and it provided a blueprint for its competitors.

Honorable Mention:
Gamestop (formerly Impulsedriven)