THE Covid-19 pandemic’s lockdown and lingering effects, plus 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 Amazon, if 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 grabbed 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
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 4, and 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 include Fallout: New Vegas Ultimate Edition, Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor Game of the Year Edition, Flashback, Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse, and the classic Harlan Ellison game I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream.