The Best Places to Download Old PC Games For Free
Oh, nostalgia. That wonderful feeling you get when remembering the “glory days” of gaming. A time where saving your progress was unheard of, state of the art graphics looked like polygons, and the Mario Bros weren’t even super yet.
It’s great to think about but what is there to do when you really just got to play you some Donkey Kong? Well, my friend, the solution to your conundrum is a little something referred to as abandonware.
What is Abandonware?
Abandonware is a program that is no longer kept up to date or maintained by the original creator. It is essentially “abandoned” hence the name. No technical support, patches, DLC, etc. are put into the game. For all intents and purposes, it’s a ship lost at sea without sails. Until a nostalgic nerd comes along and rescues it that is.
The use of abandonware tends to ride the fine line between legality. Well, technically it doesn’t. It is outright illegal to use or distribute abandonware. However, copyright infringement for most games that are considered abandonware, is usually ignored by the creator.
What is the Biggest Threat To Users Who Download Abandonware?
To put it simply, security. Without patches or updates to repair any vulnerabilities the program may have, it is often open to direct attacks from malware. It’s up to the distributor to ensure the programs are safe to download and up to the user to point out the vulnerabilities so that they can be fixed. Also, make sure you’re running an updated antivirus program if you plan to download popular titles regardless if the site has been deemed safe.
Now that you understand what you’d be getting into, let’s check out what I consider to be the best places to get your classic game on.
Easily the cream of the crop for finding the classic titles that you’re looking for. This site is your best bet when in search of the perfect PC game download to scratch that nostalgia itch. My Abandonware boasts over 14,000 titles to choose from, dating back to 1978.
Search by name, year, and genre to find exactly what you need. They not only provide classics for the PC but also offer downloadable ROMs for your older, “big name” console platform emulators, handheld or otherwise. Enjoy the likes of Galaga from ’88 to ’98 on the Nintendo, Sid Meier’s Civilization for the Amiga, or Warcraft on Mac.
If you’re feeling skeptical about downloading because you want to avoid viruses or malware, don’t fret. This isn’t thepiratebay.org. Every single game file that is available for download has been vetted and continues to remain virus free.
What originally began as a DOS revival in 2009, has since become an amazing web museum housing a plethora of games to enthrall even the most hardcore gaming enthusiast. Indulge in your childhood gaming obsession all over again at myabandonware.com.
OldPCGames.net offers a solid array of PC titles from 1990 to 2000 to wet your nostalgia palette. They also offer something no other site on this list does. The site hosts a bevy of strategy guides, cheats, hints, and solutions for the games that they provide all with the click of a link. So if you find yourself stuck on a difficult obstacle or want a cheat code for extra lives, Old PC Games has got you covered.
The differences don’t stop there. A large assortment of vintage gaming magazines is readily available for download as PDF files for a bit of leisurely reading.
Having issues playing the downloaded games on your machine?
Windows 10 may cause issues when attempting to run older game files. However, that isn’t a problem for Old PC Games. No need to scour the internet for the perfect program to play the games that you know and love. Both a DOS BOX and a modified Virtual Machine, are downloadable directly from the site itself.
The only issue I had with the site is the occasional redirect when clicking on a menu item. This can be seen as a red flag that the site isn’t as protected as it should be. If you can overlook this minor annoyance, OldPCGames.net is an amazing site for those only wanting to go back no further than 20 years for their older gaming fix.
Another great addition to the game preservation list, Classic Reload allows you to play their amazing DOS collection directly in your browser. Over 6,000 games to choose from, which pales in comparison to Abandonware.com’s 14,000, is still a relatively large amount of older titles to enjoy. They even offer multi-lingual games for those gamers whose English lacks fluency.
Each game runs as smooth as can be expected and load times are minimal. I have yet to experience any redirects when clicking site links, so safe to say that the site is secure.
Classic Reload hosts a Discord channel that anyone has access to once registered on their site. Discuss fond memories of games past with other like-minded individuals, argue over which Elder Scrolls game is the best, and enjoy a community you can call home.
Abandonware DOS sticks mostly to their namesake in terms of what kind of library they offer. Comprised of mostly Microsoft DOS titles as well as a few for classic Windows, Abandonware DOS is an evergrowing database of your favorites of yesteryear.
The immediate contrast from the rest of the list that you may first notice when visiting the site is the up to date newsfeed. Pushing out an article a week highlighting game spotlights, awards, and bests, a great source for individuals seeking updates on older, and even newer, games.
Wondering who won Gamespot’s Game of the Year 1998?
Simply click over to the “Games Awards” tab and the information is right there for you. It’s Grim Fandango if curious.
Abandonware DOS also has one of the friendliest looking home pages that makes it incredibly easy to find exactly what it is you’re looking for. No over clutter or questionable ad placements, the site continues to impress with its continuous flow of “new” old arrivals as shown in the sidebar.
Yes. The Internet Archive preserves video games. In fact, they began an Internet Arcade project back in 2014 and recently, as of this year, the library blew up massively.
The archive has seen a continuous influx of classic games from a multitude of sources. Arcade cabinet titles, coin-operated machines, older PCs, and even Mac to name a few.
It’s also incredibly easy to jump right into a game directly in your browser of choice.
- Open up the Internet Arcade or follow the link provided to the MS-DOS titles.
- Tab the POWER button in the middle of the screen.
- Allow the game to download to your browser.
- Hit Fullscreen (if that’s your thing) and dive headfirst back in time to when games were more than just intense graphics and cinematics.
The best part about all of this is that you don’t need any quarters. Every game is 100% free and because it’s on such a known site, you can expect it to be fully secure as well.
This site makes it onto the list simply for its classic appeal. It doesn’t do anything truly different or even better than the rest. But the theme design for the site and their ability to ooze authenticity makes me believe they’re worthy of a spot.
RGB Classic Games allows you to play DOS classics within your browser, offers compatibility utility for those with issues running any older games on their machines, and offers a respectable amount of games to enjoy which include non-DOS titles like Diablo and Final Fantasy.
The site itself was pulled together by a number of notable classic game developers and created with a noticeably old school vibe. The most obvious call to that can be seen in the site’s banner and the simplicity of the menu. If you’re the type of gamer who prefers keeping it classic in both game and spirit, then RGB Classic Games may be right up your alley.