The Covid-19 pandemic’s lockdown and lingering effectsplus the sudden drop in price of powerful PC graphics cards this year, led to an unexpected renaissance in computer gaming.
The argument against PC gaming often boils down to: It’s cheaper and easier to deal with a video game console than to set up a powerful gaming rig. But many console jockeys paying full price for new games may not be aware of a simple PC gaming fact: You can get lots and lots of the best PC games of recent years for free, no strings attached, and mitigate your system cost.
While Xbox and PlayStation stores offer free games each month to subscribers, you have to pay a fee to access and keep them. On the PC side of things, you can regularly access and keep free games from outfits including Epic Game Store, GOG.com, Steam and even Amazonif you have a Prime subscription.
Building out your PC game library requires patience and persistence. For instance, Epic offers two or three free games per week, but only for a limited time. Once that time expires, the games are no longer free, but if you grab them while they’re available, they’re yours to keep forever. (Or whatever passes for “forever” in the era of digital licensing.) You just have to remember to keep coming back to grab games you want during that window, set up a free account, and have their game launcher app installed.
It should follow that games given away for nothing should be the subpar dregs of the industry. But that hasn’t been the case with games on some of these services. In my Epic Games library alone, I’ve accumulated 160 titles, most of them freebies. Among them: Control, Alien: Isolation, Bioshock Infinite: The Complete Edition, Borderlands 3, Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration, NBA 2K21, Inside, Star Wars: Squadrons, Sid Meier’s Civilization VI, SUPERHOT, Just Cause 4and XCOM 2.
That’s enough high-quality gaming to keep me busy for years to come; and yes, I’m aware that I’ll probably never have time to play them all.
GOG.com’s giveaways are usually posted for a limited time on their homepage and get added to your library. You don’t need to download and install an app launcher to grab them. Some free games GOG has offered included Fallout: New Vegas Ultimate Edition, Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor Game of the Year Edition, Flashback, Shantae and the Pirate’s Curseand the classic Harlan Ellison game I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream.
Similarly, Amazon Prime Gaming has this year allowed Prime subscribers to grab and keep games such as Football Manager 2022, Starcraft: Remastered, Maniac Mansion, Far Cry 4and Madden NFL 22. Some of those giveaways spit out a code you must redeem on game services like the EA app or Ubisoft Store, where those titles might also be offered free for a limited time. Amazon also offers Prime subscribers some games that can be played for free on its Luna streaming servicesuch as Dusk and Joggernautsas well as codes to unlock skins and other content for Apex Legends, Deathloop, Robloxand other popular games.