In the last few years, the global gaming industry has changed greatly. VR was expected to soar but has instead hit multiple roadblocks. Meanwhile, eSports leagues and teams are now one of the hottest topics in digital entertainment. Along the way, gaming developers took an unexpected turn by releasing free-to-play titles.
From PC to console to mobile devices, more new gaming releases are being billed as ‘free’. While it might seem like a tactic designed to bring on more players, it’s also a business move. Free-to-play games become profitable if played on a large enough scale—and nothing attracts newcomers like a ‘FREE’ stamp.
Despite some kickback related to microtransactions, the trend of free-to-play titles is likely here to stay. Today, titles like League of Legends and Fortnite, some of the largest and most popular eSports, remain free for PC. This is great news for gamers of all stripes, as many developers have found a way to deliver on quality production despite creating free games. Even so, not all platforms will produce memorable gameplay, graphics, and mechanics.
And, moving ahead, it seems only the most successful free-to-play platforms will remain popular and, therefore, profitable. Lucky for gamers, there are plenty of options to choose from. Looking to dive into some of 2023’s best free options? Keep reading for the best free-to-play platforms that are available right now via browser, console, and/or mobile device.
Poker remains one of the most popular games in the global iGaming industry. Since the early 2000s, more and more groups have launched virtual poker sites for remote players—but some do it better than others. GlobalPoker is one of the latest companies to offer an innovative platform that lets gamers play poker for free.
With over 250,000 players in the US and a series of guides for getting started, both newcomers and seasoned players have gravitated toward the site. The platform also has a unique Sweeps Coins system, which helps it stand out from the crowd when it comes to tournament offerings.
Like poker in iGaming, racing titles are one of the biggest genres within sports simulations. Some might even argue platforms like iRacing produced some of the largest and most profitable eSports competitions. Hondune Games places a new twist on this standard with Code Racer, for Android devices.
In Code Racer, gamers steer their vehicles by using basic programming commands. While it might sound like standard gamification for education, Code Racer is suitable for programming novices. It lets gamers define how their car turns, stops, accelerates, and more.
Call of Duty Warzone
When Infinity Ward released COD Warzone in March 2020, they took a chance on a new format. The first-person shooter was launched in a free, multiplayer online setting—and it paid off. Within one month, the platform had over 100 million active global players.
Since then, COD Warzone has become a leader in massively multiplayer online (MMO) FPS games, which have since helped frame and launch battle royale eSports competitions. Unbelievably, Warzone is absolutely free to play via PC.
Apple & Android
Coming from developer miHoYo, Genshin Impact has been one of the most influential free-to-play mobile games released in recent years. The game stands out for its creative RPG format and anime-style open-world concept. There’s magic, elemental wielding, character-switching, and more.
Two years after its release, there are now over 50 million monthly players. Gamers compete across vast worlds, which call back to other classics like Zelda. The emphasis here isn’t just on creative challenges, but also on vibrant settings that will capture the attention. Looking for hours of dynamic fun? Genshin Impact won’t disappoint.
Once again, this racing simulation for Android devices takes a critical new look at the popular sector. The project, from Dan Vogt, stands out for its near-perfect mobile-first gameplay. The touch controls are lauded as some of the most accurate in finger-to-screen gaming.
Behind it all is a unique and riveting storyline: a little triangle racer must navigate a computer system that slowly fails as AI ‘Mother’ becomes less and less rational. DATA WING is a fresh take from 15-year gaming veteran Dan Vogt, which has garnered a total of 4.8 stars for almost 340,000 reviews in the Google Play Store.
When it comes to PC games, titles like COD and Halo have taken the lion’s share of attention as free-to-play platforms. However, developer Midwinter Entertainment released a free-to-play action shooter that takes multiplayer titles to a new level. The action shooter lets gamers compete in a three-person multiplayer format.
Many gamers have praised Scavengers for its unique world, weapons, and abilities. The setting adds another dimension of survival to a standard battleground setup, as gamers must navigate a frost-bitten world where characters can freeze to death only inches from a fire. In other words, it’s a new (more strategic) take on shooter titles.
At first glance, Brawlhalla might not look like the typical Ubisoft production. In fact, Ubisoft’s studio, Blue Mammoth Games, released the title back in 2014. It was one of the first experimental pushes into a free-to-play MMO PC title—and it’s paid off.
The project is reminiscent of Super Smash Bros. Gamers have over 50 characters to choose from before entering the battle royale arena, where they have to knock out the competition. Each player has unique abilities, which means there’s always something new to try out. Though not quite as popular as other titles on this list, there are over 50 million active monthly users.
Browser & Console
Similar to Brawlhalla and Scavengers, Destiny 2 puts a new twist on classic free PC titles. While the original wasn’t free, developer Bungie opted into the free-to-play world with its 2017 Destiny 2 release—which included Xbox and PlayStation consoles.
Developers infused action-first dynamism into the MMO project, which includes multiple events and activities that gamers must navigate. The result is a world that feels alive, capable of capturing someone’s attention for hours. Sick of open-world concepts? Destiny 2 delivers on a single evolving world that you can join anytime.