Below you’ll find several ways to get computer games for free. Not the browser-based or freemium games that use pay-to-win and pay-to-play models, but complete copies of high-quality games at no cost.
The free game may be a few years old, but they’re still loads of fun. Sometimes when the latest installment of a series is coming out you can find the previous games for free – perhaps they’re given away to entice gamers to explore the game’s universe and tempt them to buy the latest release. Sometimes games are given away by fellow gamers just because, or by developers trying to attract new gamers. If you’re looking for free ways to get brand-new games, you also can look into the options for trading games and retailers’ rewards programs.
Game Client Giveaways
Steam and EA’s Origin game store clients offer thousands of games for sale, but they also often free games for users. On Origin, you can download a completely free On the House game. Today’s offering is Command & Conquer Tiberium Alliances, and the next title is Medal of Honor: Pacific Assault. You can also get free access to demos and betas or check out a new game for a few days at no cost.
Steam offers free-to-play games. However, you may have to make in-game purchases if you want to excel at the game or play without interruption. Within the free-to-play section there are a few that are entirely free – here’s a list on Reddit that shows the game’s genre and only includes games that 100-percent free and don’t offer in-game purchases.
Occasionally you can also find limited-time giveaways of full games on Steam. Like Origin, Steam also offers free sneak peaks of games, with completely free access for just a few days.
Several sites host raffles or giveaways for Steam games. Some of the raffle sites are reportedly scams and no one ever wins. Others are legitimate, but when hundreds or thousands of people enter your chances can be slim. Still, there’s a chance you can win and entering may take only a few minutes, so there’s little downside.
Here are a few of the giveaway or raffle sites that may be worthwhile.
- SteamGifts – Connect your Steam account to SteamGifts and you’ll automatically start earning points. Use the points to enter giveaways and hope you’re the randomly chosen win. There’s no payment or extra work involved. Games giveaways come from other community members who may have extra copies as a result of buying bundles, or just want to give back and share the joy of gaming with others.
- PlayBlink – As with SteamGifts, you connect your Steam account to PlayBlink and slowly accumulate points that you can use to enter giveaways. PlayBlink hosts three types of giveaways. Either the winner is chosen at random, entrants play a mini-game and the person who does the best wins, or a mix of the two (doing better increases chances of winning, but doesn’t guarantee it.
- GameMiner – Again, connect your Steam account and you’ll get coal periodically. Use the coal to enter giveaways and the site randomly chooses a winner. You can also buy or earn gold, which you need to enter some of the raffles. You can also giveaway games to get bonus coals and gold, and earn As you level up, the number of coal you get each hour increases. Some giveaways also require a minimum level.
On some giveaway sites you’ll need to complete a series of actions to get entered into a raffle. The actions are how the sites make money. For example, you may need to complete surveys (the site gets paid when you do), follow the site’s social media pages or sign up for their newsletter (so they can contact you again), or in some cases, you can buy raffle tickets. These sites may also be legitimate, but aren’t as fun or easy to use as the three listed above.
Pay What You Want Bundles
Some websites offer a bundle of games for free or let you pay what you want and offer incentives if you pay more.
Humble Bundle is one of the most popular bundle-sites to use this model, and it often offers good games and fun add-ons. Technically you need to pay at least one cent for some games or packs, and sometimes you’ll have to pay at least $1 if you want the games’ Steam keys. There’s also a tier system and if you pay more than the average amount people have paid so far you’ll get additional content. Sometimes there’s a higher tier as well with additional games or content if you pay at least a certain amount. When you make a purchase, you can choose how your money is split between the game developers, a charity, and Humble Bundle.
Game Bundle uses a similar tiered system and gives 10 percent of its net profits to a charity. Indie Gala and Groupees offer packages, many with a pay-what-you-want option that starts at $1. On the latter, you unlock additional games by paying more and get a free bonus if the site reaches its sales goal. Bundle Stars is an alternative that features inexpensive bundles with a fixed price, and sends an occasional free game to its email subscribers.
Retailers like GameStop, Amazon, and Best Buy may give you store credit or cash if you trade in a game. You can also sell games on Craigslist or eBay. But, if there’s a new game you want, you might be better off trading directly with another gamer.
The trading marketplaces work in several ways. Leaptrade lets you either trade a game to another person and get Leaptrade credit or trade it directly for another game. In either case, you’ll ship the game directly to the other person – and pay the shipping fees. You can list your game library as available, and Leaptrade automatically prices the games based on the current selling price at other retailers.
99Gamers doesn’t offer the direct game-for-game trades, but other than that it’s similar to Leaptrade. You list your game library, pay for shipping and get credit when someone buys your game, then spend that credit to get a game listed by someone else.
GameTZ is less formal than the other two trading marketplaces listed here. It’s more of a forum where gamers connect and make offers to trade games. You can list your games, browse others, and create a want list and get notified when a match appears. When you join, you’ll be assigned a mentor who can show you the ropes, and there’s a chat system so you can connect directly with other traders.
Avid gamers may consider enrolling in stores’ membership programs where they can earn points and redeem them for gift certificates to buy games. This isn’t an entirely free way to get a game as you’ll need to buy other products or trade in games to get points, but if you’re an avid gamer that shops at these stores anyway it makes sense to join.
The My Best Buy Gamers Club is free to join and rewards you with points when you buy games, consoles, accessories, and when you trade in games. The Unlocked membership cost $30 for two years and gives you bonus trade-in credit, 20-percent off new games, and a few other extras.
GameStops’s PowerUp Rewards program gives members points when they buy, sell, or trade games, consoles, and accessories. Basic membership is free. There’s also a Pro membership that cost $14.99 a year and comes with benefits like a Game Informer magazine subscription, bonus points for trade-ins and purchases, and extra credit for trade-ins. You can redeem points for gift certificates, physical prizes, digital products, and select items from ThinkGeek.com. Points expire after one year of inactivity.
Free Indie and Older Games
There are many completely free games older and indie games. Even if you aren’t familiar with the titles, you may find something you enjoy. Browse this list of games from the ‘80s or 90’s that are now free to play. GOG.com offer DRM-free games, and has over 1,400 titles that are completely free.
Forums and Blogs to Watch
Rather than checking each site on your own each day, stay abreast of game deals by checking several popular blogs and forums. Although a few sites only highlighting free offers, you’ll often see a mix of free and cheap games. Consider following the r/FreeGames and r/GameDeals subreddits, and the Who’s Gaming Now blog.