12 Familiar Franchises You Didn't Realize Went Free-to-play
Free-to-play may not be the total future of the video game industry, but it is absolutely a crucial part of it. From brand new brands to – as this list oulines – established franchises with a fanbase already in place, so many games have adopted the model that it's hard to keep up. These are some of the franchises you’re very likely familiar with that you may not have known had free-to-play offshoots.
Released yesterday, F.E.A.R. Online offers a companion story to F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin. It pulls the game’s multiplayer mode aside for a standalone free-to-play multiplayer shooter, but you will also find a cooperative story mode, as well. You can play the game here.
Announced and released during E3 2013 exclusively for PlayStation 3, Tekken Revolution has 29 playable fighters (eight available right out of the gate) and lots of customization. It must have been pretty successful, because Bandai Namco has fully embraced the model for more of its franchises.
Ace Combat Infinity
Released this summer exclusively for PlayStation 3, Ace Combat Infinity differs slightly from other entries on this list with its focus on story. It’s basically a full entry into the Ace Combat storyline, offering lots of single-player content.
Soulcalibur: Lost Swords
Lost Swords, another Bandai Namco PlayStation 3 exclusive, stumbled out of the gate resulting in a delay following its release – which may just be a first. In the game, players can collect or purchase material to augment and create weapons.
Ghost Recon Phantoms
Another title that saw full release this summer, Phantoms offers the familiar, team-focused multiplayer of past Ghost Recon titles with the choice to play as either an Assault, Support, or Recon class. You can upgrade and level up your weapons, or you can buy into the upgrades with real money if you choose. You can play the game by heading here.
Released in 2009, Heroes was an early experiment in the free-to-play shooter genre. Battlefield typically prides itself on its realistic visuals, but Heroes took a cue from Team Fortress 2 for a more cartoonish art direction, which allows the game to be played even on systems without a lot of horsepower. Battlefield Heroes has been going strong for about five years, and you can play the game by heading here.
Head to page two for more familiar franchises that went free-to-play, including an entirely separate Battlefield game.
If realistic Battlefield is more your style, another, entirely separate free-to-play Battlefield experience is available, cleverly subtitled Play4Free. Released in 2011 and built using Battlefield 2’s engine, Play4Free offers typical class-based shooting with micro-transactions. To play the other free Battlefield that isn't Heroes, head here.
Steel Diver: Sub Wars
Steel Diver is far from being a Nintendo classic, but it’s likely the closest the company will ever get to developing something resembling a military shooter. Released in February, it is one of Nintendo’s first free-to-play experiments and features micro-transactions that allow you to customize your submarine. You can find out more here.
Originally released as a browser-based game in 2010, the game has since upgraded to the downloadable variety. The game is most similar to Quake III Arena, and its monetization is subscription-based allowing players to manage their own servers to a certain degree. To play the game, head here.
Counter-Strike Nexon: Zombies
Released just a few weeks ago, Zombies adds, you guessed it...zombies to the Counter-Strike formula. Players combat zombies and each other, can become infected can become zombies themselves, and can also craft new weapons. Considering Left 4 Dead began its life as a Counter-Strike mod, it’s as though the infection has come full circle with Valve’s ever-popular shooter. To play the game, head here.
Neverwinter released last year and is one of the few titles on this list that isn’t a shooter. It offers cooperative play reminiscent of BioWare’s classic Neverwinter Nights games, complete with a in-depth story and a multitude of classes. The paid aspects relate to purchasing new items for your character. You can play the game by heading here.
Tribes was a huge success in the early days of online multiplayer shooting and had a tremendous influence on games like Halo. It disappeared into obscurity for many years, but re-emerged in 2012 with a free-to-play model and new mechanics. To play the latest Tribes game, head here. For our review of Tribes: Ascend head here.