The Offline Gamer


When I speak with new PC Gamers, I am surprised how many of them think they need to be online all the time to play games. This myth is easy to understand with the fact that physical media for new games just does not exist, you need to go through online services to get the games you want to play installed on your PC. Furthermore, many games have both an online and offline play component but the online is the most advertised and this leaves a lot of gamers with the false impression they need internet connectivity to enjoy PC gaming.  Let us dispel that myth.

Firstly, why would anyone want to be an offline gamer? Well there are several reasons for this, so let us dive in.

Cost/Availability: Access to high bandwidth connections can be out of the reach for some budgets. Even if it is affordable, any some gamers do not have access to a “good” internet connection.  These two factors can combine to make using the internet for gaming difficult.

Data Caps: Many internet options come with a data cap that can really increase the cost of the service when it is exceeded. With so many people streaming videos through various online movie/tv services, the data cap on a low-cost internet account can become quickly saturated.  I have three avid gamers in our home, and we all use the internet for 80% of our TV watching. We used about 2TB a month in data and this can add up fast. Especially when you add in some of the MASSIVE game downloads we have today.

Online Communities: Let’s face it, if you have spent any time in pretty much ANY PVP community online you know how toxic they can become. Some people just want to enjoy their games and not mess with the outhouse that many of these communities create among their members.

So, if any of these apply to you then let us see what can be done to make your gaming experience work without hogging the internet.

As we begin, we must start with a basic truth, there is NO WAY to be 100% offline and be a PC Gamer right now, with newer games. Sure, you get older games that came on physical media but those can be harder to find, will greatly limit your choices and you will find that they might not even run without making a retro build. The retro build approach is a very viable option. If you are okay with games you find on eBay or swap meets then this can be a good option for those with no internet access at all. The reason you will need at least basic internet access will be explained in a moment.

A big deterrent for many people is the download time required for some games. All games sold today are distributed via digital means and that requires a download. The larger the game the more bandwidth and time it requires just to get the game installed. There is a way around this, however. If you have a buddy with good internet connectivity so you could download the actual game files via his connection.  Be sure to gain permission before using another’s internet. There are also some slow free internet options in many cities.

For this download either grab a game your friend owns or see if he will let you access your account off his PC, maybe while going for dinner. If neither of those work, then install steam on a LAPTOP with enough HD space for the game you are getting. Once the game is downloaded, in Steam (other methods for other services) you can back up the game files to an external device, like a flash or external drive.

Take this external device to your gaming PC and from within Steam restore the backup. This method will copy all the install files from the local external source without banging away at your internet connection. It still requires an internet connection during this process to ensure you legally own the game. (Hence why you need at least a basic connection package)

Once the game is fully installed you can now go into the Steam menu and tell the client to go into offline mode. If the game in question supports offline game play then your internet will not be touched by the 
game or Steam and your enjoying offline gaming.

This method works on Steam, EPIC, some games on Uplay and other platforms to various degrees. The limitation is mostly to make sure the game you have has the ability to play in offline mode. This can be found in various forums, communities and even Reddit. (Again, the need for some basic level of internet)

There are other options to the using of a friend’s internet but those all require the same thing, ask permission before doing it.

When you go to buy a game, as mentioned you first need to verify that the game can be played in offline mode. A second consideration that is worth asking is if the game is a game of the year or deluxe package. This means waiting until the game has been out 6 months or more. The reason for this is so you will not need to go online and download LDC or the latest patch. By buying a game that has been fully developed, you might not be the first to play it but you will not need to keep waiting for the next patch.

Offline Gaming is not easy, especially in today’s world with constant game updates and microtransactions. However with some patience and some good friends it is possible to play some modern games and not spend a larger portion of the house hold budget on better internet.

The articles content, opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed in SAPPHIRE NATION are the authors’ own and do not necessarily represent official policy or position of SAPPHIRE Technology.

Edward Crisler
Edward is the definition of an “old school” gamer, playing computer games as far back at 1977. He hosted a tech talk show for 20 years and is now the North America PR Representative for SAPPHIRE as well as SAPPHIRE’s unofficial gaming evangelist. You can follow him on Twitter @EdCrisler.