A few years ago, James Portnow from Extra Credits, who has held many roles in the games industry, went a week where he only played free games. He said he actually had a lot of fun with them, and I recently thought about doing this myself, and what it might be like to do now.
The start of free games has changed drastically. They’re no longer limited to the flash games on Facebook or browser games like Tribal Wars or Echo Bazaar. Free games are big business now, and aren’t just trying to squeeze money from you at every turn; there are genuinely triple A experiences that you can get online for free, and my gaming habits are, already, a testament to that.
At time of writing, I have played 1,262 hours of Dota 2, which, according to Dotabuff, amounts to 1,201 games played that were scored. I play it every week, without fail. The last time I didn’t play for a week was when I was in India, travelling around to a new hotel every 2 days for a fortnight, and I’m not alone in doing this. Dota 2 is, routinely, one of the top 5 most played games, if not the number 1 most played game on Steam each day.
But, while the only free game I regularly indulge in is Dota 2, there are hundreds of others, a few of which I’ve tried. War Thunder is the most recent addition that wasn’t a browser game. Made by Gaijin Entertainment, it’s an MMO-WWII Dogfight simulator. It’s fantastic fun with a close eye for historical accuracy. Basically it’s like World of Tanks with planes, but they’ve added tank battles now so I guess you could say it is World of Tanks with planes.
Agar.io is another little browser game which my girlfriend introduced me to and we had a bit of fun with it while together, and it’s a game that really defies any kind of explanation but you should check out yourself. It’s fun for a few hours or so, and is very quick to pick up.
But then there are a host of others. You could feasibly play any genre of game for free if you look around a little. You wouldn’t even have to look very far as most are on steam. Want a dungeon crawler where you can create your own dungeons? Try The Mighty Quest For Epic Loot. Want a free to play MMORPG like WoW? Try LotRo Neverwinter. Seriously, Neverwinter is actually fantastic. Want a co-op shooter? Try Warframe. Multiplayer FPS? Team Fortress 2 or Loadout or Planetside 2 or… there are a shit tonne of free FPS games actually.
CCG? Hearthstone or Magic The Gathering: Origins.
RTS? Stronghold: Online or Anno: Online.
There are genres that are Free to play that don’t exist in any other form. There is even a fishing game you can play for free, if you’re into that. In a few short years, playing only free games has gone from being “pretty fun,” to basically having a whole library of great games you don’t have to pay for. I could play only Dota 2 and be happy, after all, but there are so many other things you can do with these other free games than just MOBAs. I will try this challenge, though since I currently have subscription for WoW I’m going to finish that before I undertake it. Maybe in the drought of games after Christmas I will try this, and I for one am looking forward to it.