Free-to-play – commonly abbreviated to F2P – is being toted by a slew of publishers as the ‘future of gaming’. Allowing developers to make money through in-app purchases, or convince gamers to subscribe to their game after a try-before-you-buy inspired trial period, free-to-play is a paradigm shift the industry is in the middle of understanding. To help chart this emerging landscape, games™ rounded up the most notable games in the free-to-play market.
Hawken, PC, Adhesive Games
The debut title from Adhesive Games, Hawken is a multi-player FPS that really captures the feeling of piloting fast-paced mecha colossi. All four competitive modes are available free, but if you want to upgrade to the bigger, badder mechs, that’s when Hawken will start costing you.
The Simpsons: Tapped Out, iOS/Android, EA Mobile
Due to its incredible popularity, the city-building game based on Fox’s hit animation actually broke EA’s servers after its iOS launch. Progress is steady but slow if you play without paying, so if you want to build a worthy Springfield you’ll have to be either very patient or very rich.
FarmVille, Browser, Zynga
A game that needs no introduction, the farming-simulation social networking phenomenon took the world by storm in 2009. It seemed like all of our Facebook friends were playing this at one point, and the sheer weight of requests and notifications made even the most stubborn anti-F2P gamer cave-in and start harvesting virtual corn.
Star Wars: The Old Republic, PC, BioWare
After the subscriber base fell below 1 million players in July 2012, EA took the plunge and made SWTOR free-to-play. The transition saved the game from going under, but at the cost of imposing credit limits on players and slowing down the speed at which they level up.
League of Legends, PC/Mac, Riot Games
Perhaps the most famous MOBA going, LoL boasts over 12 million players signing in per day, and has clocked over 1.3 /billion/ hours cumulative playtime. Built on a freemium and free-to-play model, the game makes its money through microtransactions that work to power up the player’s Summoner – the game’s persistent element.