Once upon a time, the best PC game company was an independent test bed type with a legion of followers and a license to print money. The full-priced games that once ruled the roost are receiving some real competition from gaming titles that require no up-front expenditure. Free-to-play PC games are being released at a furious clip and there is something in this world to scratch nearly everybody’s particular itch. With online clearing-houses like Steam reinventing what game delivery can mean, it’s time to separate the good from the bad from the ugly. So in no particular order here are some of the best free PC games out there:
Fortnite Battle Royale
Epic Games is offering this free Battle Royale mode, while it is in development. Gamers have the opportunity to play this specific mode as often as they like without shelling out $40 in upfront cost. For those who end up wanting an early release of all the PVE modes, they can drop $40 for immediate access.
TrackMania Nations Forever
TrackMania is all about beating your friends for the pole position and designing the craziest, most whacked-out racetracks anywhere. Play the entire stadium environment or pay the $30 and upgrade to the TrackMania United Forever version of the game. This pay-to-play version comes with six additional racing environments to enjoy.
Team Fortress 2
The folks at Valve Corporation began their journey into the free-to-play market with this winner, Team Fortress 2. The game became free-to-play nearly four years after its original release. Deemed a class-based shooter, this game features an item-based economy, and its large user base is intensely loyal.
Blue Mammoth Games
Inspired by the Mario franchise this 2D fighter allows players to lose themselves in the nostalgia-producing melee. Although it doesn’t play exactly like Nintendo’s cross-over smash hit, it provides enough to gain an army of loyal followers. You can play as much as you’d like for free, you’ll need to shell out $20 to unlock all the current and future characters.
Pro Evolution Soccer 2018
Have you always dreamed of owning your own football club? Does the nail-biting competition of professional sports leave you gasping for more? Then perhaps Pro Evolution Soccer 2018 is for you. Although this version is a bit more limited than the pay-to-play edition, it is more than enough to satisfy the most ardent competition-based gamer out there. Improve your skills in training mode. Go online and play the exhibition circuit. Or for a real challenge delve into league mode and test your skills against the world’s best.
Since the market for physical pinball tables has all but gone the way of the dinosaurs, Zen Studios is keeping the tradition alive with its PC game version of the old-fashioned classic. If you are unwilling or unable to open your pocketbook this game’s Sorcerer's Lair table is still loads of fun. Be prepared to pay, however, if you want any table but the free one.
This game is declared the Champion’s shooter and is on the cutting edge of gaming development of its 100 player battleground mode. Hi-Rez Studios was an early adopter of the free-to-play business model and is more than willing to ride the wave of whatever is wildly popular at the moment. With a limited group of starting Champions you can play for free, but plan on forking over $20 bucks to unlock all the game’s features and future characters.
With the free-to-play world growing daily, how is it that companies can make money by offering the games for free? Extreme Tech, the online clearinghouse for everything technology related put it this way, “By offering micro-transactions, in the form of a small cost to unlock features or future characters, the players are spending a few dollars to enhance their game playing experience. A free-to-play game opens the door to a much larger customer base and it is through this large volume of customers that the micro-transactions work.”
One might wonder about those gamers who don’t pay and never intend to.
Mark Kyrnin, a technology expert at Tech for Anyone, a leading blog dedicated to offering anyone the opportunity to understand the often complex world of technology offers this, “The general trend is that by spending of money, players can in essence bypass the amount of time they have to spend playing the game to advance to higher levels.”
It’s clear that the free-to-play model is here to stay and may even be the preferred method for gaming software “sales” moving forward.