Gaming 101: Free PC games

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Whether it's a limited-function addon for Myspace and Facebook, freeware by an indie developer, or a F2P MMORPG, free games have been on the rise, sometimes commanding an audience that dwarfs the playerbase of traditional, subscription-based MMORPGs and commercially-released video games.

Inside Social Games recently posted an article showing the top 25 Facebook addons for August 2009. Zynga, the developer whose games occupy three of the five top spots, has a playerbase that exceeds World of Warcraft's subscriber base for every individual title. In fact, WoW would currently place at #7 were it a Facebook addon.

The MMO genre itself is dominated by a number of free-to-play titles that support themself by item shops and has produced F2P titles that are nearly as well-known as subscription-based titles like Everquest and Lineage. Silkroad Online, for example, has been dominating gaming headlines recently for its continued war against botting and a recent major update. Others, like Atlantica Online, are noted for their original style, boasting features that are unique within the MMO genre.

Then there are entirely-free games that range from the professionally-developed America's Army 3 to old-school, simple freeware like Battle for Wesnoth. As this is already the minority group among free games, finding that rare gem that leaves you wondering how the major developers skipped over it can be quite a task. Often, the best work is done among modding communities, like the one built around Neverwinter Nights.

While the high-end graphics of commercial gaming aren't a frequent find among free titles, variety and playability are and with experiments like Guild Wars and Free Realms becoming more common, developed by professional teams, the mainstream industry has realized it. NCsoft and Sony are only pioneers, the first of many mainstream companies that will attempt to seize hold of the free-gaming community.

Bye Alexian Nox



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