At release, games can cost $60. Wait a few months and that price will go down. Wait long enough and, if you’re lucky, the game might become free altogether. Maybe this will be part of a giveaway, meant to promote a sequel or a service. Maybe this will be the developer wanting to give something back to the fans. Or maybe the game’s become free-to-play, hoping to monetize in-game purchases.
Whatever the reason, you don’t necessarily need to break out your credit card to play a great game. Here are some places to check.
EA Origin: On The HouseEA’s answer to Steam, Origin, isn’t exactly beloved – many blame it for the botched rollout of SimCity. But there is at least one perk: free games.
Head to Origin’s “On The House” section and you can get a free game, right now.
There’s only one giveaway at a time – as of this writing, it’s the 2008 horror game “Dead Space”. Choice switch, and you’ll need an Origin account to download anything. The point is clearly, in part, to get you to sign up for Origin, but free is hard to complain about.
Check out Origin’s On The House.
Steam’s “Free to Play” sectionFree to play gameplay isn’t exactly the same as freeware – there’s usually something you’ll be encouraged to pay for in-game. Still, the free to play section on Steam is well worth a look if you want a free, premium game to play.
Games like Dota 2 (what is Dota 2?) and Team Fortress 2 (the must-play free to play game) are a great place to start, but they’re far from all you’ll find: there are nearly 100 titles here, covering everything from strategy to shooter to MMO. You’ll find something you like, so take some time to explore.
Wikipedia’s Surprisingly Great List Of Now-Free GamesSometimes – not often, but sometimes – commercial games are later released as freely distributable freeware. Wikipedia offers an amazing list of such games, and you should check it out.
You won’t find brand new games here: the most recent date back to 2008. But that doesn’t mean you won’t find anything worthwhile: highlights include a couple of Command & Conquer games and a few of the early Elder Scrolls series (precursors to Skyrim).
Finding the downloads can be a little tricky – links may be broken. But following links, along with a little bit of Google searching skill, and you should be able to download anything on this list.
Using RedditIf it exists, Reddit can make a community devoted to it – and free games are no exception. If you want to find out when a commercial game becomes free, and generally keep up with free games, you should subscribe to r/freegames on Reddit.
It’s also worth checking out r/efreebies, which includes a wide variety of free virtual goods. Not everything there is video-game related, but it’s a larger and more active community. Subscribe to both and you won’t miss any major gaming giveaways.
Even More Free GamesWant more? Here are a few other places worth checking for free, downloadable games.
- There are a few free games on GOG.com. They also occasionally do high profile giveaways – I got Fallout 2 and Torchlight this way.
- FreeAndLegalPCGames is a blog compiling tons of free games, and is well worth exploring. It’s from Megazell, who for a long time maintained a huge thread of free games over on the CheapAssGamer forum.
- There’s a list of free indie games over at The Independent Gaming Source; classics like Cave Story and Spelunky await.