Free PC Games
Everyone likes getting stuff for free. PC games are no different, and a new one seems to pop up each day. The people that create these games make them addicting to pull you in, and then once you’re addicted to the game, you realize that these extras (that cost real life money) are actually needed to play the game. Suddenly, you realize they aren’t free after all, but you like it, so why not pay for a few upgrades this one time? As addicts know, it is never that one time. So, is it worth it?
Free Browser Based Games
The simplest of the free games come in the form of browser based games, generally played on social networking websites such as Facebook. Social gaming is a good option for the casual gamer that doesn’t want to buy a gaming computer.
These games have very low system requirements and are played right in the internet browser. They are laggy, have many issues, and usually require a large amount of friends to help out in your game. If you don’t know how to get friends on Facebook for gaming, you may be out of luck on advancing very fast in this type of game.
The developers for these games, such as Zynga, make many games that all basically have the same feel to them. Build up a farm, city, get involved in a Mafia war, etc. You have energy that you use to perform tasks, earn in-game money, and request your friend’s help with tasks in the game. There isn’t any real skill involved in this type of gaming. It is really just about how many friends you have that also plays.
These games don’t have to cost anything to play. People who are on the networking site can sign up and play the game App for free. Where these game developers get you, however, is with the large amount of extras that you have the option to purchase. These can be new items to add to your home or clothes to wear in The Sims Social. Energy or in-game cash upgrades are also another popular thing for players to purchase. This can get rather expensive really quickly.
All of those upgrades cost real life money. Who really wants to spend $25 on a few in-game items when you could use that real cash to purchase real life items to decorate your real home with? Seriously, I don’t get why people waste their real money on these less-than sub-par quality games.
Free MMORPG Games
There are also many free MMORPG games that players can download and play on their computer. These games are actually quite extensive, detailed, and could give other games a run for their money. The developers allow players to download the game for free, and then also have a free account.
Gamers really enjoy being able to play a MMORPG game for free, at first. It is fun, you get to play in a beautifully designed world, meet people in the game, and generally just have a good time. Then you start to notice all of that extra cool and shiny stuff that high levels have. It is then that you learn that you have to buy that stuff with real money.
Games such as Perfect World International are quite beautiful, and the storyline is worth playing for a while. I played it for a few months and really enjoyed it. I did purchase those extra upgrades, because at around level 30 or 40 I realized I had to if I wanted to keep up with other people I played with. I had to purchase a mount to ride around on, pretty new armor, experience points upgrades, storage, etc.
Even though there isn’t a monthly fee to these games, if you are serious about playing the game, you end up paying much more than a normal game’s monthly fee would be to play it. Sadly, for this reason, I don’t think games that offer this “free" type of play are worth it.
The Hidden Cost of Free
The best free PC games are addicting and really hound gamers into purchasing upgrades for the game. A game that starts out as being free can end up costing hundreds of dollars (or more). Most people don’t fall victim to this, but it has happened and what do they have to show for it? Some shiny objects in their pixelated world of the game they play? Yeah, I’ll pass.
Most of the people that play these games only do so casually, so they don’t bother paying anything. If they do, it is the smallest amount that they need to get that special thing they want that is being promoted in the game. Celebrities promoting things through social branding is used to help with this, such as when Lady Gaga promoting FarmVille when her “Born This Way" album was released.
Free MMORPG games such as Perfect World International really requires players to purchase the upgrades once they are around level 40 to advance in the game at a normal gaming pace. This could mean that people spend $15 to $30 per month on the game, but many spend much more than that just on those extras to play at a normal pace.
If online MMORPG games are your thing, why not just buy an excellent game with a flat monthly fee rate such as Aeon or World of Warcraft. If you want to pass on the monthly fee, go for Guild Wars which costs money to buy the game, but is free each month. Upgrades are available, but definitely not something players have to get to be any better in the game.
Even the best free PC games have very low quality help or support personnel to actually assist their customers. If you are experiencing a problem in one of these games, don’t expect help anytime soon, if at all. Many of these games don’t even have a support e-mail or phone number to contact a live person. After all, you get what you pay for.
Is Free Really Worth It?
The developers for these “free" games do need money and funding to keep creating content and to keep the game running. I’m not saying that they shouldn’t get any money from people that want to play these games. Why not just give a free trial version of their game for gamers to try out? If they like it, then they can purchase it for a reasonable fee that they have set for the game.
Most people would be willing to pay for games that they enjoy playing, especially if that meant that they didn’t have to keep constantly seeing advertising and seeing “upgrades" to buy for the game for real money. Seriously, who really wants to pay hundreds of dollars for a fake farm or double experience points for one day? Not me!
So, are the best free PC games really worth it? No, and in my opinion they aren’t really “free."
- Screenshots and references from FarmVille, Guild Wars, Perfect World International, and The Sims Social.