It (literally) pays to know all the crafty ways you can save money without sacrificing your power user cred
As much as we love ogling top-of-the-line PC hardware and fantasizing about price-be-damned rigs, we also love, love, love to stretch a dollar. Does that make us cheapskates? You betcha, if that’s what you want to call someone who doesn’t pay a premium when he or she doesn’t have to. Sign us up! In fact, where computing is concerned, knowing all the various angles to save a buck—a buck that can then be put toward new and better gear, mind you—is as much a part of being a power user as knowing how to flash a BIOS or overclock RAM. If you’re currently spending top dollar on your PC activities, it’s time you got schooled in the fine art of penny-pinching. From free software alternatives, to the best deals on all forms of digital entertainment, to hardware-buying tips, to our blueprint for a $600 PC, this year’s Cheapskate’s Guide can save you thousands of dollars and make you a more savvy consumer in the process.
Note: This article appeared in the October 2012 issue of the magazine.
The head of EA's Origin may take issue with Steam selling games at a steep discount -- *cough* hypocritically *cough* -- but judging by a statement from his boss, he may not have to worry about being undercut at retail forever. No, David DeMartini isn't getting fired; EA COO Peter Moore just thinks that basically all games will be free to play in the next five to 10 years.
With all the launch-day DLC, upgradeable options, premium packs and "microtransactions" permeating games these days, sometimes it feels like the $60 you plunk down for a new game is just the down payment. Do microtransactions hurt less if the game is free to play to being with? Crytek's betting on just that; the company plans to go the Tribes: Ascend route and focus solely on F2P titles sometime in the future, after its current slate of big box games -- like Crysis 3 -- are finished and shipped.
IF THEY HAVE first-person shooters in martial arts Valhalla, we’re pretty sure Tribes: Ascend is the one Bruce Lee plays. First and foremost, it’s a game about movement. In a split second, you have to judge where your jetpack-propelled, lightning-quick opponent is, where they’re going to be, and what you should do about it. You have to instinctively go with the flow, all the while never missing a beat. You must, well, be as water. Water with a jetpack. As a result, Tribes simply feels wonderful—not to mention unlike anything else on the market. Sure, it’s basically a shinier Tribes 2, but you won’t hear any dismayed cries of “Shazbot” coming from us.
What worked in previous Tribes games is in top form here. Footing it from place to place is—as you’d expect in a game subtitled “Ascend”—suicidal, so forward motion is all about deftly mixing aerial acrobatics and inertia-based “skiing.” In short, your jetpack can only play little-engine-that-could-defy-physics for a few seconds, at which point gravity rudely yanks you into free fall. Combined with Tribes’ trademark hilly terrain, however, that velocity can be transformed into your best friend instead of transforming you into paste. Simply hold the space bar to ski—typically at speeds in excess of 100 mph—in whatever direction you were headed. Shouting “wheeeeee” while going down ultra-steep inclines is optional, but encouraged.
If none of the titles we mentioned in our free to play game roundup tickles your fancy, you’re clearly a picky gamer – there’s 25 totally free titles to choose from, after all. But let’s say that you’re less of a freeloading Team Fortress 2 kinda gamer and more of, say, a freeloading DC Universe Online kinda gamer. You’re out of luck right now, because DC Universe Online is only available to paying customers. That’s changing soon, though – Sony’s introducing a free, if somewhat hobbled, subscription option on November 1st.
One of the biggest trends in gaming over the last half-decade has been the rise of the free to play (F2P) online business model. You might have heard it called “freemium,” or the pejorative “pay to win,” but whatever you call it, it’s here to stay.
You may not have heard of all the free to play games coming out recently (they don’t tend to have the same marketing budget as your Battlefields and Call of Dutys) but you should probably be paying a little more attention. Sure, some of them are a little shallow, or unfair to non-paying customers, but there are F2P games in every genre, and a lot of them are top notch.
So why pay to play? Read on for our list of 30 top-notch free online games. For each game, we'll tell you what you get for free and what costs money, so you never get surprised.