Many don’t realize it’s absolutely possible to save money on gaming and that gaming doesn’t have to be an expensive hobby. In fact, while the isolation due to coronavirus-related restrictions is a burden for many, there’s never been a better time to give in to your passion for gaming to alleviate the solitude of the long hours spent inside.
That’s why we have come up with a comprehensive guide exploring all the ways you can save money on gaming.
In this guide, you’ll find all the info you need to game for free or next to free and all the options that are currently available to you. We won’t be exploring obvious options here such as buying second hands games but it’s definitely something that is available on sites like Craiglist or eBay.com. We’ll talk instead of everything that’s available for free or next to free. You’ll find there’s plenty of opportunities to game to your heart content for months on end and to defeat the boredom of covid19-forced isolation.
Finally, before we start, we can’t possibly cover all the games in each category, there’s simply too much. These are our personal choices. Feel free to voice your opinion in the comment section below at the very end of this article.
Free to play Big-Budget Games
The first category we’ll be talking about is big-budget games, games produced by big studios and have a high quality and production value. These usually command a high price but let’s see what we can do about it.
If you love exploring and adventuring through vast expanses, building up your character from the ground up and lose yourself into a sprawling world, then Massively Multiplayer Online games (MMOs) might be for you. Once upon a time, they used to be pay to play but things have changed considerably. Nowadays, you can access and play for free most if not all of the major MMOs on the market and enjoy yourself in their world for hours on end without spending a single penny.
Here is a selection of the best ones in our opinion. Let’s see your options, shall we?
- Final Fantasy IV (PC, Mac, PS4, Xbox) and World of Warcraft (PC, Mac) – arguably the best and most successful MMOs on the planet, these games are currently played by millions of players and constantly being updated and duly cared for by their respective developers. Although they are technically not free, both, in fact, need a recurring subscription to play, they offer a very generous trial scheme that allows you to start the games right away and explore their mechanics, classes and general look and feel.
Trust us, they can be played and enjoyed for free for tens if not hundreds of hours before shelling a single dollar on them.
With WOW there’s an actual possibility to play for free, forever, in fact, with enough in-game gold it is possible to purchase game time and keep playing without paying for the monthly subscription.
- Guild Wars 2 (PC, Mac) – a massive game that could not be left out of this list, this MMORPG is a wonderous experience and touted as one of the best out there. It still looks incredible in 2020 and it is completely free to play in almost its entirety. You can get lost in its magnificent world and play it for hundreds of hours!
- Path of Exile (PC, PS4, Xbox) – this ‘diabloesque’ isometric adventure while not technically an MMO presents elements of a shared world and cooperative play. It’s an absolutely outstanding action RPG and boasts so much free to play content (and so much more to come on the horizon) to keep you busy pretty much forever. Still going super strong after 7 years since its launch now would be the perfect time to get into as the developers are preparing a big update to the game engine and functionalities to come towards the end of 2020.
Save money on gaming with Battle Royale
If you are into competitive gameplay, shorter playing sessions, high adrenaline multiplayer matches then these following FREE games might be right up your alley.
- Fortnite (PC, Mac, PS4, Xbox, iOS, Android) – this battle royale masterpiece has been introduced in 2017 by Epic Games and immediately shot to world dominance due to a clever combination of third-person shooting and building mechanics. Boasting more than 20 million players ducking it out to no end, Fortnite is completely free to play, explore and master for hours and hours on end. Try not to get addicted though!!
- Apex Legends (PC, PS4, Xbox) – published in 2019 without any prior marketing or hype, this little battle royale gem blends crisp first-person shooting with awesome environments and traversal mechanics. It has been an instant success among players who have flocked to the servers to enjoy this highly polished free to play experience.
- Call of Duty Warzone (PC, PS4, Xbox) – based on the extremely successful Call Of Duty franchise, this newborn battle royale, published just on the 10th of March 2020 has garnered 50 million of players in just a few weeks thanks to its innovative mechanics and rock-solid presentation. Free to play to your heart content.
Progression and loot hoarders
If you are more into a cooperative experience or so-called PvE (Player vs Environment) experience rather than endlessly facing other humans, don’t worry, there are free, excellent games for you too.
These titles differ fundamentally from MMORPGs because they focus more on action/progression with a group of friends or human allies vs an endless stream of AI mobs through hand-crafted missions. The goal of the game? Endlessly grind for better gear which allows challenging more and more difficult content. Simple and yet effective fun.
- Dauntless (PC, PS4, Xbox, Switch) – what you think about the prospect of adventuring through mysterious lands and becoming a seasoned and invincible hunter of mythical beasts (aka a monster hunter)? This multiplayer, cooperative game lets you fulfill this fantasy at no cost, boasts colorful, stylized graphic and solid mechanics with the potential of keeping you glued to your screens for months.
- Destiny 2 (PC, PS4, Xbox, Stadia) – an absolute boon for fans of science fiction, this cooperative shooter/looter will see you exploring its vast multiplayer-shared world fighting your way through increasingly tougher enemy encounters and hoarding a gargantuan amount of loot. Free to play to its core, it can keep you occupied for hours on end and it’s a perfect escape during this economic downturn.
- Warframe (PC, PS4, Xbox, Switch)- launched in 2013, this completely free-to-play science-fiction cooperative third-person shooter, blends a gorgeous and unique presentation with excellent parkour-inspired shooting and exploring mechanics creating a compelling package that boasts hundreds of hours of content. Revamped and enriched several times during the years it has become a behemoth in the free to play space and with no barrier to entry, its world is a must-try.
Vehicle mayem free to play games
For the final section of this category, we couldn’t forego this subset of games letting you duking it out in all sorts of funky vehicles, no need to worry about petrol cost or vehicle maintenance here!
- War Thunder (PC, PS4, Mac, Linux, Xbox) – War Thunder is likely the most comprehensive free-to-play, cross-platform, MMO military game dedicated to aviation, armored vehicles, and naval craft from World War II and the Cold War. It’s a little grindy as it pushes you to purchase premium vehicles, but if you are looking for a well-themed World War vehicle completely free to play this one is to try out.
- World of Warships (PC, Mac, PS4, Xbox, Android) – If you love naval combat and an accurate historic setting this free to play, epic, combat simulator is for you. You can take the helm one of over 300 historic vessels and outfit your fleet with flags, camouflage, modifications, talented commanders, and more! Again, being free to play, it is heavily biased toward slowing down your progression if you are a non-paying customer but there’s plenty of fun to be had capsizing and sinking other people vessels while voyeuristically peering at yours.
- World of Tanks (PC, Mac, PS4, Xbox) – this is a multiplayer online game, featuring mid-20th century (1930s–1960s) era combat vehicles. It is completely free-to-play, but you also have the option of paying a fee for use of “premium” features. The focus is on player vs. player gameplay with each player controlling an armored vehicle chosen among 300.
This game has been around for a long time now and it deserves much praise for its commitment to balancing premium vs free content. If you are a fun of armored ground vehicles, this is for you.
- Crossout (PC, PS4, Xbox)- This little gem adds a unique spin to the vehicle mayhem, tried and true formula, the fact you can plan and build your own destruction machines. Set in a post-apocalyptic, almost Mad Max kind of wasteland, the main draw of the game (besides smashing your opponents to smithereens, is to become a mad engineer and come out with effective designs for your ideal war machine. Are you the agile and speedy scout or the heavily armored behemoth on the battlefield? It’s completely up to you! People have sunk hundreds of hours into this title and for good reasons, freedom to create. Expect a bit of grinding, particularly in the beginning.
MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) Games
If you want to save money on gaming, you can’t get a better deal than getting into MOBA games. The first was created as a mod to the popular Blizzard game Warcraft 3 but since then these games have taken a life of their own, shocking the industry to the core and forging their own unique niche. Over time, they have conquered the hearts of gamers all over the world.
These team-based, multiplayer and very competitive experiences are based on a completely fair and free to play model where you pay only for cosmetic items and the convenience of accessing your favorite characters at will. Besides these aspects, they are fully free to play and unburdened by annoying microtransactions or inconveniences that may be common in other free to play models. As of 2020 three games dominate the scene even though there are many more out there struggling to conquer a piece of the pie.
- League of Legends (Pc, Mac) – The uncontested champion and arguably the most successful MOBA out there when it comes to the sheer number of concomitant monthly players (100 million), this game is beloved by many and for good reasons. Easy to pick up and play, extremely polished and constantly improving it has certainly contributed to propelling e-sport to worldwide attention. Hard to master like all MOBAs it can keep you entertained for hours and hours during this pandemic.
- DOTA 2 (PC, Mac, Linux) – the second contender, DOTA2 is a beautifully crafted game, arguably with a more sophisticated look and feel than League of Legends and with a more serious all-round presentation. Played by millions every month (although not as many as LoL) it’s an infinitely complex game that will take you literally years to master and fully understand. Plus it’s constantly changing and evolving to offer a better gaming experience than its competitors. Completely free to play via Steam, go check it out.
- Heroes of the Storm (Pc, Mac) – In third place and, arguably, struggling a bit to keep pace with the other two, Blizzard’s own rendition of this genre-defining gaming experience tries to inject innovation into the familiar blueprint. If you are looking for a solid MOBA experience with several experimental design choices and beautifully seated in the familiar esthetic of the Blizzard ecosystem, this might be the game for you.
Collectible Card Games
Playing CCGs or Collectible Card Games has been always considered an expensive hobby. A few years back building an effective deck with Magic the gathering, the unchallenged king of the genre, whilst fun, it certainly was a very expensive exercise. Nowadays it’s not the case anymore and thanks to the rising popularity of the free to play model, several gorgeous CCGs are available to play online completely free of charge for hours on end and against an endless stream of willing opponents.
It is true that to be really competitive in many of these games, you have to spend real money on digital purchases of packs and cards but each of the games on the list can be played and enjoyed, really, without spending anything.
- Hearthstone (PC, Mac, iOS, Android) – Blizzard’s own CCG has taken the industry by storm and practically set the standard of quality and practices for a successful online free to play CCG. With its ease of play, intuitive design and gorgeous graphics and animations you really can not look past this stellar game. Even if you decide not to spend any money on it, between its several game modes you could keep playing for thousands of hours and enjoy every minute of it.
- Magic the Gathering Arena (PC, Mac)– After innumerable attempts at creating the perfect digital experience that encapsulates the beauty and complexity of the game of Magic the Gathering, finally, Wizards of the Coast have come up with a gorgeous free to play version of their beloved masterpiece. Filled to the brim with attention to details and a bolstered by a solid selection of free starting decks, this might be the ultimate digital version of the grandfather of CCGs.
- KARDS, The World War II Card Game (PC Early Access)- With so many free to play CCGs out there it’s very difficult to select the best ones but we have decided to settle to an up-and-coming one with a more realistic setting that has stunned us with a brilliant presentation and unparalleled ease of access as it draws closely from hearthstone’ s design ideas. It combines traditional CCG gameplay with innovative mechanics inspired by classic strategy games and real battlefield tactics. Take command and challenge other players in grand-scale warfare on the ground, air, or seas. Fun, thematic, intuitive, gorgeous.
- Card Hunter (PC, Mac) – To end this list with something completely different, I highly encourage you to try out this little gem, particularly if you are a fan of traditional dungeon crawling tabletop experience. The game is a fresh new card gaming spin on classic tabletop RPGs. Battle your way through a massive campaign solo or with friends and compete with other players in ranked play and tournaments. there are hours upon hours of tactical fun to be had here while scratching your card collector itch!
Free to play online browser games (not just!)
If you belong to the casual crowd (nothing wrong with it, mind you) and do not want to have to deal with big installs on your PC, downtime, or complicated game progression or simply seek a more relaxed and in-short-bursts gaming experience, here is a list of website where you can access hundreds of free, lovely little and big games to your heart content.
- Kongregate.com and Armor Games – arguably two of the biggest websites online offering a huge selection of indie browser games to play for hours upon hours completely free. And we are not talking necessarily games that are shoddily made and last a few minutes. Some of the games on the platforms are refined little gems that can be played for hours and are little masterworks in their own right. These sites have become a melting pot of new ideas and dev experimentation as well, so if you are after something crazy or totally innovative they are a way to go!
- BigFish Games – they have been in the business for years and they are at the top of their game (excuse me the pun) offering a vast selection of adventure, time-management, puzzle games, and many more genres. Their production quality has gotten better and better over the years and whilst they offer premium content there’s plenty on their digital platform to try and enjoy completely free of charge.
- Facebook Games – the Mecca of social gaming online, Facebook games span a vast array of genres and quality but they are all tied into the social experience of the Facebook platform making it the perfect choice for casual fun with Facebook friends. Titles such as Candy crush, or Cooking Adventures are played by millions every month, just do not spam invites and you’ll be happy gamer doing social distancing right 🙂
Online game repositories and retro gaming
What about playing retro gaming? Do you miss the good old times going to your local arcade and spending insane amounts of coins on game sessions that would last you mere minutes? Or maybe you’d really love to play again some of the old classics on some of the most beloved vintage consoles like SNS or Game Cube!
Well, this and much more is today possible from the comfort of your home and at the astounding cost of nothing. Just head over to the links down below and start browsing hundreds if not thousands of free to play games from the old times!
- Internet Archive – the site is a non-profit digital library offering free universal access to books, movies, music and games, as well as billions of archived web pages. Don’t expect stellar performance, all the games basically run into emulators in your browser, but some of them are perfectly playable and absolutely a joy to discover and re-discover!
- Playclassic.games – the site offers a selection of classic games such us MS-Dos, Genesis, SNES, NES, and NeoGeo. Games are played in browser and new games are added to the site constantly.
- PlayRetroGames – you’ll be greeted by a thematic and colorful interface and offering emulated games from a plethora of different systems such as the Atari7800, Nintendo, Sega, NeoGeo, and Playstation to name a few. The interface is solid and the games tend to work fine, mostly. A solid choice for lovers of free retro gaming online.
Games offered free of charges by Publishers
Video game publishers and developers have been swift to respond to the COVID19 crisis and in the last few weeks have released many AAA games free of charge or at a very reduced price, to help people keeping up with social isolation directives.
There has never been a time where excellent titles could be played for free or acquired at an incredibly reduced cost. Let’s see your options here.
- Epic Game Store – love it or hate, the store created by the developers of Fortnite has been garnering positive momentum in the last several months mainly due to an almost incredible marketing campaign featuring a 2 week-cycle giving away promotion. In fact, every two weeks or so, there are a couple of new games up for grabs completely free of charge and to keep indefinitely. We are talking about boutique indie titles that are, mostly, excellent games all round.
- Humble Bundle – While this innovative digital game storefront offers free games to download in its store on special occasions, the real reason to consider it are the bundles. They publish new bundles of videogames to be had at a fraction of the price you’d have to spend normally and you can decide how much goes to them and to charity. A no brainer for the gamer on a budget.
- Steam – if you are remotely interested in gaming as a hobby you know about Steam and its foothold in the industry as a behemoth of digital game distribution. On Steam, you can buy games, of course, but you can access hundreds of titles that are completely free to play. So, if you are looking for free to play games to try, you should definitely head to their free to play section and see how deep the rabbit hole goes.
The Steam Store is also where most publishers will advertise any giveaway or free game time you could take advantage of. So check it out frequently.
- Twitch – if you have an Amazon Prime subscription active, then you should be aware that there are other perks linked to it. In particular, as an Amazon Prime member, you can access a selection of excellent free games every month via the twitch platform. You just need to link your Prime account to your Twitch account and access your premium content every month. Also, the games are yours to keep forever.
- UPlay.com – Ubisoft has been very generous during this pandemic situation and has given away some fantastic free titles (such as Rayman Legends) via its proprietary platform UPlay.com. If you do not have an account, you should create one immediately to check their limited offers frequently or you could head here to check for their offers and trials.
To finish this guide, I’d like to touch on how to save money on gaming using subscription services. This is a little bit of a controversial topic for several reasons but the option is out there and becoming more compelling by the month.
Yes, this section is not going to be free 100% but given the price of current AAA games and the game libraries offered by these services, what you are going to pay is pretty much as low as you can get to play some of the titles on offer.
There are drawbacks with subscription services, the main being that you do not own the games on the platform, you just have access to them as long as you are a paying subscriber. I reckon though is an acceptable compromise. The advantages though are several and you pay a minuscule access fee to play many AAA and excellent indie games on your favorite platform or even on the go.
There are two types of service models, streaming and download&play. With streaming, you are not bound to a platform but the games are streamed to whichever screen you choose, however, this can sometimes introduce lag and visual artifacts.
With the download&play models, you actually download the games on your system which makes the experience seamless but you do need to have decent hardware to run some of the games.
- Apple Arcade (Mac/iPad/iPhone | download) – if you are into the Apple ecosystem and fan of casual, quality gaming, Apple offering is supersolid. With around 5$ a month and a free trial period, you get access to a growing library of 100+ curated, gorgeous indie games developed specifically for the platform. Free of microtransactions and annoying ads these games are what mobile gaming should really be like.
- Playstation Now (PS4, PC | streaming) – with the astonishing price of only 9.99$ per month and a mouth-watering library of more than 800 games selected from all the different PS systems this gets to be the most solid offering on the market when it comes to streaming games. You can stream directly to your PS4 or your PC and with games of the caliber of Spiderman or Control, this service could keep you hooked for months before you run out of options.
- Xbox Pass (Xbox and PC | download) – with the pass you get access to download more than 100 different games for Xbox and PC. Recently went into the beta for the PC as well and pushing it at an incredible introductory price of 1$. With a growing library of more than 100 titles that are a selection of AAA and indie, this could be for many a hard offer to pass.
Wrapping up how to save money on gaming
With this massive, almost 4000 words guide on how to save money on gaming, we have been exploring a great amount of options available to you, to help you save a little bit of cash while still anjoying this amazing hobby during this difficult time.
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Also, do you have any additional idea to save money on gaming? Feel free to add your contribution in the comment section below!