As midterms finish up and with finals looming on the horizon, it’s your last chance to procrastinate. Many college students are hooked on video games, but most games aren’t friendly to a student budget. With the recession, however, the market is changing, and there are hundreds of high quality games available free of charge.
With an incredible amount of money driving North America’s huge video market, the industry has pushed forward many technologies that would otherwise have advanced slowly. The market for high-end graphics cards and processors, for example, is motivated almost entirely by gamers looking to build the most powerful PCs just for gaming. But over the past couple of years, an increase in piracy as well as the recession have hit the industry and motivated a number of developers and publishers to release free-to-play games.
A free-to-play game is entirely free and legal to download and play. To compensate for this, almost all free-to-play games have some in-game features that require money to activate. Much like test-driving a car, the developers hope to get players hooked on the game, motivating them to spend more than just e-coins and internet bandwidth.
Most free-to-play games are online, in which the player logs in to play against others around the world. These games usually have a ranking system whereby players can earn experience and in-game currency. The currency is used to buy new items that enhance game play in some way, such as weapons, gear, maps, interface enhancements, and so on. During normal play the player earns enough money to only buy a few items. The game also offers additional gold and some premium items for a real-life money price. As well as buying items, most games allow the player to gamble for items. Through the clever use of low-odds in the gambling system, poor exchange rates, and an online payment scheme in which it’s easy to forget how much money is being spent, the player can easily end up spending hundreds of dollars trying to win a particular item. However, a careful player can easily play the same games without spending any money.
There are hundreds of well-designed free-to-play games available today, all competing with one another. Some of the most popular free-to-play games are:
Racing: Drift City (an RPG in the form of a car-racing game); Project Powder, a snowboard-racing game with great graphics; and TrackMania, which has a vast number of racetracks to choose from.
Role-playing: Ace Online, a flight simulator; Dungeons & Dragons Online, the computer creation of the fabled board game; and Runes of Magic, which is similar to the best- selling – and expensive – World of Warcraft.
Shooters: Alliance of Valiant Arms, which has stunning graphics; Crossfire, which bears a striking resemblance to the enormously successful Counter Strike; and Quake Live, which allows you to play the classic Quake game inside of your web browser.
Sports: The Hunter, a very realistic hunting simulator; Freestyle Street Basketball; and Pangya, a golfing game.