Just over 10 years ago, those of us with an interest in video games basically had three options.

  • We could play browser-based games for free;
  • we could buy video games off of store shelves to play on consoles or handheld devices; or
  • we could head out to public arcades, which even 10 or 12 years ago were starting to feel like ghost towns, and were largely on their way out.

An incredible amount can change in a short time, however, particularly with modern tech accelerating at the rate it is.

Now, not only do we consider gaming to be a primarily digital and online activity, but we have several completely different ways of accessing and paying for games online.

Free Browser Arcades

Before we get into anything that’s particularly new over the course of the last decade or so it needs to be mentioned that free browser arcades are still highly accessible and very active. A plethora of arcade platforms that now put out PC and mobile games on a regular basis started out in our browsers and still operate there, which means this is still one of the easiest (and cheapest) ways we have of accessing quality games.

Free Downloads

Any gamer is aware that there are innumerable free mobile games available for download. Just recently, Tech Radar did a list of 100 of them that are “must” downloads for 2019!

But when you actually think about it, it’s remarkable that such a massive, busy gaming market operates for free. Much of this is thanks to the “freemium” model by which freely downloaded games charge for in-app content.

Even so, however, a lot of freemium games can be enjoyed with no money spent, and the mobile app business has become a go-to place for people looking for easy and affordable games.

One-Touch Paid Downloads

As easy as it is to appreciate the free apps just mentioned, there are also plenty of excellent mobile games that are available for low fees (typically $2.99 to $9.99, though there are a few more expensive outliers). These can seem somewhat exclusive when lumped in among all of the free options, but compared to the gaming options of 15 years ago they’re still incredibly accessible.

The notion that you can pay such a low fee at the single touch of a finger for a game that you might get dozens of hours of gameplay out of is still, in some sense, revolutionary.

Paid Console & PC Downloads

While it’s still possible to buy video games on store shelves at places like GameStop, Best Buy, and Walmart, among others, downloads have largely replaced this one-conventional model of game acquisition.

We can now buy and download the very same games through console-related digital stores operated by Nintendo, PlayStation, and Xbox, as well as through third-party services like Steam. As far as high-end games go, this is the new model of accessibility and makes the entire process more convenient and streamlined.

Phone Bill Deposits

The phone bill deposit model hasn’t caught on more broadly in the gaming market, but it’s a fairly exciting move being made by browser-based casinos, which actually have millions of players.

Depositing via phone bill has been adopted as a banking method by numerous online casinos, such that people can agree to deposits and purchases without actually having to conduct them directly or even at that time.

The payment simply adds on to a connected phone bill. This has made a whole genre that much more appealing from a payment standpoint, and one wonders if a similar model could be adopted for mobile gaming.

Crypto-Based Console Downloads

This actually fits into the aforementioned paid console and PC download category, though it gets its own section here because of the involvement of cryptocurrency.

Microsoft in particular, which runs Xbox, has decided to allow for direct digital purchases via cryptocurrency. The policy was interrupted only for Microsoft to welcome bitcoin back into its operations, and now anyone who has cryptocurrency and/or wants to spend it can purchase new gaming content through entirely digital means.