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Trends in Gaming: Steam and Free to Play Games


In light of the recent issues in the economy, many game companies have paired up with the online game distributor, Steam, in order to get their games to a wider audience. While this has worked very well, there are some games that took this even a step further and went from subscription services to free to play. While not all the games that are on the Free to Play list in Steam were once subscription services, generally speaking they did at least cost anywhere from 14.99USD to 60.00USD, depending on the game. This has made both profits and player base soar. The companies are keeping themselves afloat by offering downloadable content (DLC) for a price that will allow you to customize your game play. Let’s take a look at the top 5 Free to play games on Steam.

Team Fortress 2

This is currently (as of November 2011) the most popular free to play game on Steam. A first person shooter game that has many different modes in which it can be played, offers the player a great array of choices. The game mode that is chosen is what dictates how the game will be played. There are several modes including:

  • – Capture the flag
  • – King of the Hill
  • – Medieval Mode
  • – Teamed Death Match

Throughout the game, there are two teams that a player can choose to play on RED (Reliable Excavation & Demolition) and BLU (Builders League United). The theme of the game is that between the two mega-corporations, they control over every government in the known world and, of course, they are not happy with their small part and want what the other team has. The player’s goal then is to battle the other team in various modes of gameplay to win over the parts of government that the opposite team has control of and rule the world.

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DC Universe Online

This was one of those subscription-based games that went to free to play less than a year later. Released in January 2011, by November 1st 2011 it was free to play through Steam. The basis behind this game is that the player chooses to be either a villain or a hero and has a mentor from the DC comic universe. The starting area depends on the character chosen, but the player works through the areas one by one advancing the endgame material and working cooperatively with others to complete quests, earn more skills and get better equipment.

There are three different types of accounts available:

  • – Free
  • – Premium
  • – Legendary

The differences come to how much money you have spent on the game itself. Those with Free memberships have not spent anything. Those who hold premium memberships have paid at least 5.00 into the game. Those with Legendary status are continuing subscription members. The differences between the levels are actually quite large. Free to play members are limited in how many text messages they can send in game as well as being unable to have access to game expansions without purchasing them. They have less auction spaces and their banks and amount of in game currency they are allowed to have is very low.

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Those who choose the premium membership by spending at least 5.00 in game have access to bonus options and more character space as well as more bank slots. They are also allowed to join player leagues and use voice chat with other players.

Those who actually pay the 14.99 a month for the game get all of their upgrades for free and max out all of the available options. They will not have to purchase any of the upgrades when they come out for the game nor will they have to worry about not having enough in game currency as they are able to have as much as they can earn.

So however you choose to go with DCUO, you have control over what you spend and how much access you have. Not everyone is going to want the full access as they are just not often able to play enough to make it worthwhile.

Iron Grip: Marauders

Iron Grip Marauders Free Game

New comer to the Steam universe, this 2D battle strategy browser game turned 3D. There are 2 phases to the game: the strategic portion where players make their plans for research and building as well as wealth management and then the battle stage where players go against one another to capture the others’ territories and exploit them.

While this game was released as an independent game, supposedly free of the Iron Grip timeline, it has become over the last few months quite tied in with it, taking the game into different directions than was planned.

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While a relatively new game to the Steam network, it was released with this very goal in mind and it jealously guards it position as 3rd in the list.

Rusty Hearts

Rusty Hearts Free Game

This is a Gothic-inspired game with lots of fantasy thrown in. This is a world of vampires, elves and sorcery with an excellently engaging anime cartoon style. As your characters race around taking quests from various NPC’s (non-player characters), they gain experience and skills so that in time they can go on to fight the bosses of the dungeons. It is there in the dungeons that the player earns the most in the way of loot, equipment and in game currency which is used to buy upgrades. The goal of the game is to become your own unique hero within the game storyline.

Puzzle Pirates

Puzzle Pirates Free Game

Here is the one and only puzzle game to make our top five list. This game offers you cooperative game play and the ability to make your own puzzles as well. It allows you to do actions against your fellow players, by completing a puzzle. How well you do on that puzzle says how well you do in the action you were trying to take. There is a fast paced chat engine that goes along with it, making sure that you won’t lose the social aspect of game playing. So, go ahead and give it a try…you can puzzle your way through it!

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