Modern gamers have an unrivaled bounty of free games. Many of the most popular online games use the free-to-play model to entice users. There are free games on Steam, in your browser, and on your smartphone.
However, you don’t always want the latest AAA title or free battle royale. You want to scratch the nostalgia itch. Luckily, there are a host of websites dedicated to precisely this: the love and preservation of old games. Here are the best sites where you can download old PC games for free.
Abandonia is an index of abandonware “dedicated to classic DOS games.” Abandonware games are titles (or software) with expired copyright or old games no longer supported by the publisher. (What is abandonware, anyway?)
Abandonia was founded in 1999 when the concept of abandonware was merely two years old. After a few inactive years, Abandonia blossomed into one of the leading sites where you can download your favorite old games. At the time of writing, Abandonia features near 1,400 downloadable games with over 800,000 members.
Abandonia gives each abandonware game a thorough review, screenshots, and an editor and user rating. You can browse and download old PC games by name, year, rating, and category. As the site is focused on DOS games, you won’t find any of the “newer” abandonware games here, but the vast DOS archive should satisfy most of your old gaming needs.
Abandonware Dos is another abandonware site focusing on—you guessed it—old DOS games. It also features a reasonable repertoire of Windows titles, though nothing too recent. It tapers off from around 2002, meaning you can grab all-time greats Sid Meier’s SimGolf and Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds, but there are some more recent titles beginning to appear.
Abandonware Dos is a very active site, too. Each title comes with a site rating, title specification (e.g., abandonware, protected status, freeware), release date, screenshots, as well as a recent(ish) video play-through and snippets of game-related facts.
You’ll also find handy articles and lists to aid your search for the best old games to download.
What I like about Abandonware Dos is its open approach to its abandonware site status. The site owner clearly states their compliance with take-down notices. Furthermore, the site features direct links to GOG.com. These are found on the direct game page, as well as featured titles on the site homepage.
Once you start building your abandonware library, it is sometimes difficult to keep track of each title you have. If that sounds like you, check out these video game launchers that let you add the titles you want to play.
RGB Classic Games features a wide range of classic DOS games, previously unreleased titles, and even some “modern” DOS titles. The entire site is “dedicated to preserving classic games for defunct PC operating systems” such as DOS, CP/M-86, OS/2, Win16, and Win9x, as well as making them easier to play on modern systems. Indeed, if downloading old DOS games are what you’re after, RGB Classic Games is a great option.
You can search for games using genre and operating system, as well as the company name, legal status, year released, and interestingly, video mode. Furthermore, testament to the mission of RGB Classic Games, you can play a significant number of titles on a site-hosted emulator, including Keen Dreams, Hexen, and one of my all-time favorites, Transport Tycoon.
Of course, some of the best old games are not abandonware. Check out the best old games still worth playing for another trip down nostalgia avenue.
My Abandonware is a great place to download old PC games, plus some of the more recent additions to the abandonware list, too.
You’ll find listings for over 15,000 titles, including “some very rare titles found in the deep web,” as well as “some sent by our awesome visitors.” The small team running My Abandonware actively maintains the site, making updates and improvements, plus adding new titles, abandonware games, old DOS games, and more.
One of the best My Abandonware features is the range of search options. You can work through the massive catalog of games using names, year of publication, the game platform, genre, the theme of the game, publisher, and even a specific developer. The developer option is great because if you find a game you like, you can also explore other titles from the same development team. You’ll also find some old DOS games for download, too.
Our trip through your childhood ends with Games Nostalgia. Games Nostalgia features hundreds of amazing games that hit the market between 1985 and 1995. The Games Nostalgia site is easy to use, allowing you to peruse games by genres, tags, new arrivals, popularity, and more.
Games Nostalgia also goes the extra mile by packaging each game in its own emulator, available for both Windows (and in many cases, macOS, too). In that, Games Nostalgia removes any additional steps to playing your favorite old games. Just download, unzip, and start playing! Having each abandonware game wrapped up in a neat container makes it much easier to play these old and retro games, something that can be an issue on modern machines.
The Internet Archive is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving one of the core tenets of the internet: universal access to all knowledge. Old video games certainly require protection, and The Internet Archive agrees.
In 2014, The Internet Archive brought 900 classic arcade games to our browsers, preserving and promoting some of the best. A year later in 2015, The Internet Archive announced it would preserve over 2,300 classic DOS games.
Unfortunately, you cannot actually download the classic titles. However, The Internet Archive has an integrated version of DOSBox, meaning you can play each game within your browser. Found a title you love? Bookmark it! Alternatively, add the page to your desktop where it will be available with a single click.
What Are the Best Old PC Games?
There are a lot of fantastic old PC games. The problem is finding time to play them all. Retro gaming and abandonware games keep the old gems alive and kicking. Part of the resurgence is the ease with which you can play and download old PC games. With sites like Games Nostalgia packaging downloads with an emulator, it’s easier than ever to download and play your favorite old games.