Online Gamers Seize Freedom!

Krypton Radio Newswire

Though in this case that means freedom from those monthly bills just for connecting.  Major publishers must all be taking notes from one another, because three  major titles all went to a free-to-play model within about the last week, with a fourth having build the “free to play” idea in from the beginning.

Team Fortress 2

Team Fortress 2

Team Fortress 2

Valve Software has just announced its new free to play offering,  Team Fortress 2.  Initially it was going to be free to play for its first week in the middle of last month, but has recently announced that the game will be free to play forever.  Now even people on a budget can join their buddies on line and whip the tar out of who ever the other team is this evening.  Instead of selling memberships, Valve plans to make its money selling items in-game that make the game more pleasurable or enjoyable.

Team Fortress 2 is available right now (for free) for PC and Mac, via Steam.

World of Warcraft

Not to be left out of the party, Blizzard Entertainment lets you play for World of Warcraft for free.  Blizzard’s calling this the World of Warcraft Starter Edition, and it includes some of the content from the first expansion pack, The Burning Crusade.  You can now play WoW for free – until you hit Level 20.  After that, you’ll need the Worlds of Warcraft Battle Chest, which will run you about $20.


Guildwars from Aranet is still running, and was the first in our four games to feature free trial play.  A Dungeons and Dragons style gaming environment, it features that traditional hack and slash gameplay that was more novel when it was first introduced following the initial success of Everquest, in 2003.  The longevity of this MMO speaks to its satisfying game play and solid design.

Age of Conan

Age of Conan

Age of Conan

Nobody thought Age of Conan was going to do very much when it debuted in 2008 despite its sumptuous graphics and rich story interaction, but it has grown into a gamer’s favorite in the past three years.  Originally titled Age of Conan: Unrated, the F2P version of the game is now titled Age of Conan: Unchained. The free to play version gives you access to the lands from the original game (Aquilonia, Cimmeria, and Stygia), four classes (Barbarian, Demonologist, Guardian, and Priest of Mitra), two character slots, and access to on-premium dungeons. Most of the Rise of the Godslayer content is reserved for paying players as is the AA system, offline levels, and veteran points, but you can now get some practice with that big broadsword you keep in your closet for free. Just try not to hit the furniture.

Battlestar Galactica Online

This is unlike the other three games in two ways:  first, you play it right from your web browser, but don’t let this put you off – it’s a fully realized 3D fighter combat simulation.  And second, it was designed from the ground up to be free to play, and like Team Fortress 2, the creators plan to make their money from the in-game sales of equipment and upgrades. It’s fast and responsive – and if you don’t mind the slow grind to earn your goodies the hard way instead of just paying for them, you can play for free pretty much indefinitely.  You don’t get to pilot the Galactica though – so if you were hoping for that, sorry, but Commander Adama’s job is taken.

This Battlestar Galactica game is not the first  game based on the popular franchise ever to see the light of day.  Sierra Online produced a Windows game after many years of false starts, to release it at last in 2008.


Gamers rejoice – you now how quite a variety of choices for online gaming you don’t actually have to pay for, and the list of titles is increasing all the time.  Try ’em out – let us know how it goes.

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Facebook Comments


  1. I am really surprised you haven’t included Champions Online. Unless you are saving it for its own post. Anyways its a great game.

  2. I tried Champions Online when it was in beta, and couldn’t get used to the weird camera controls. I guess you have to deal with it somehow, but I could never get the hang of it. It’s like it would have been an isometric game if they thought they could get away with it, but they couldn’t and sort of hybridized the camera control system.

    I’m sure it’s just me though, it seems like it’s a good game other than that, and a lot of people do like it. I wonder why they left it off?

  3. The great thing about TF2 going Free to Play is it sucks more people into Valve’s Steam platform. Making this large jump to an F2P platform is most-likely a marketing scheme based on statistics in company sales. Since people put so much value in the in-game hats and weapons, by getting more people to play it, there’s a higher chance to suck people into the addiction of collecting. At any given time, there are around 80,000-90,000 people active on Team Fortress 2 making it the most played game on Steam. (The old leaders were Counter Strike and Counter Strike: Source.)

    Since Valve is an expert on viral marketing, they’ll probably use TF2 to advertise their future releases by offering exclusive weapons and hats to people who pre-purchase or buy certain games. (Much like they did back when it was a paid game.) In the end I see it as a great marketing scheme.

    I don’t really pay attention to the other listed games because they weren’t particularly interesting when they were released, and even less-so now; and I’m not that big on MMORPGs.

  4. The big news of course is that companies, especially Blizzard and Valve, that are not known for F2P are now seeing the value in this sort of system. New players means new income in terms of add-ins and premium goodies.

  5. Codizzo has the big observation here. It’s a sea change, in the way big game companies do business. It shows a certain stratification, though, between the big publishers and the little ones. The little ones can’t do what they’re doing, they don’t have the infrastructure to support a free games, but buy extra goodies in-game approach.

    Which also means that the little publishers are going to be under pressure to give their stuff away, which I think a lot of them can’t really afford to do.

  6. Welcome to free enterprise and capitalism , Fenric. You are correct, the little guy now has to work that much harder to get customers, but this is hardly unfair business nor is it new. The “first one’s free” model has been around for quite some time and this is simply a variation on that. What it does to the ‘little publishers’ as you put it, is drive them to innovate. We the consumer benefit from that with better products evolving, cheers.

  7. That sidesteps the point a little, though, I guess I should have made myself more clear. What’s gonna happen is that a lot of this little publishers that would have been fine otherwise are now going to have to compete against the big publishers in ways that they’re not equipped or able to do. The really big publishers will get bigger, and the smaller ones will get the leftovers. I guess that’s the way it’s always been, but my point was that it seems anti-competitive in some ways.

  8. TF2 being free to play makes me not look so terrible at it since everyone else is worse.

  9. Fenric, Whilst your point is valid, it isn’t quite correct. The ‘little guys’ can produce free to play – pay to elite games without any major headache. There are a few ways to do this: 1. Release server software so the customers host for themselves (many games do this). 2. Approach a centralised game host (there are companies who will host for percentages). To mention a couple.

    In fact even SL could have been done this way. An asset cloud for the sim accounts, resident accounts and inventory.The sims could simply connect to the cloud (perhaps for a subscription).

  10. Unless I’m greatly mistaken Tux, that’s the basic idea behind OpenGrid, and was actually considered for a short time by Linden Labs when they first released the Grid architecture for corporate use. The Companies using it would pay a licensing fee.

    Bringing it back to F2P, one example of this is Valve/Steams Source Multiplayer Dedicated Server add-ons and goodies are still payed for, but basic functionality is free.

  11. I was thinking the same thing, that sounds like OpenGrid.

  12. Your info on WoW is incorrect, WoW has been doing what you stated under the WoW section for “YEARS” sense Vanilla (World of warcraft) It is not something they have recently done, as for the link, it takes you directly to blizzards store home page

    World of warcraft lets you play for free
    Its a Trial account and DOES RUN OUT, ether by time or by level, if I recall correctly once you ding 20 that’s it even if you have trial time left they boot ya.

    Now however, World of warcraft did combine both WoW and Burning crusades if you buy WOW from them (Digital only) your get TBC (The burning crusade) For free (This is the only new feature I know of).
    So Unless they changed the way their trial works and you can provide a more accurate link, Please correct your posts under WoW

    Just a friendly tip


  13. Thank you, Synx, we’ll have a look and make the necessary corrections.

What do you think?