Free-to-Play Games: The College Gamer’s Heroes


Ben Scheppmann, Staff Writer

Everyone has their own ways of relaxing after a long day in class with the seemingly endless stream of coursework. Some people will work out, others will watch something on TV or online, some will sleep, and then there are others who will play video games. Time permitting, many college students like to relax by playing games like Madden NFL, NBA 2K18, or maybe Call of Duty. All of these games may seem to be entirely different from one another right? One is a football game, the other basketball, and then the other a shooter game. They are connected, however, by similar pricing. All these games today cost upwards of $30, and new, they all cost $60. For a college student who likes the relaxation of playing games, video game costs can add up quickly if they regularly pick up new ones. Yet there is an island that offers refuge in this sea of expensive games; an island of free-to-play ones.  

As it says in the name, free-to-play games are just that, free. You don’t have to pay anything for them, you just download them and play away; however, 99% of them will include options for microtransactions (options to spend real money for in-game items), but these are not required to play. These games are attractive since they cost nothing and you can play them online in many cases with friends. Some examples are games like World of Warships, Paladins, Heroes & Generals, and more recently, Fortnite: Battle Royal.  

Fortnite is a great example of a free-to-play game as it is similar to a purchase game called Player Unknown Battlegrounds. Player Unknown Battlegrounds costs $30 online and has more realistic graphics and different mechanics than Fortnite: Battle Royal. Both games have similar premises: you drop into a large map and collect weapons to eliminate players as the map slowly shrinks, forcing all players into one another. Eventually there is one person (or team) left standing which will win. Player Unknown Battlegrounds came first, then Fortnite: Battle Royal, which led many to consider it a cheap copy that steals some of the fame and attention away from Player Unknown Battlegrounds. Still, for someone who wants to play with their friends online or who are just looking for a cheap fun game, Fortnite: Battle Royal is the better option. It has the same premise, similar mechanics (to an extent), and offers team play. This is just one example of what a free-to-play game has to offer, as there are many others. Free-to-play is also a great way to get into gaming as most can run on normal computers. This is a great way to spend nothing but time and still have fun and even play with friends.  

Another benefit of free-to-play games is that they frequently offer microtransactions which can allow players to support the game developer, obtain game cosmetic items, or buy items to help in the game. By having the options of microtransactions, free-to-play gamers have an opening to do something more than play basic games. These optional upgrades are a point of contention among gamers, however, as some feel they allow for a “pay to win” structure. This boils down to the ability to purchase weapons, skills, characters, and other upgrades that will then provide benefits to the players that bought them, leaving others at a disadvantage. Still, many expensive purchase games also have microtransactions within them and could have the same outcome. 

For those in college who like to game but don’t have tons of cash to throw at new releases, free-to-play is the best option. Overall, these games are a great opportunity for anyone, as anyone can download and enjoy them without paying a penny.