Jul 08

The Evolution of Free Online Games

The Beginning of Games

In the early 2000′s “Flash Based” free games ruled the roost by broadcasting the cheesy little gamelets like penguin slides and stick golf (okay, okay, considered cheesy now, but epic then) to those who were hungry for a quick game experience with no strings attached. Easy to produce, flash based games could

Evolution of Free Online Games

How far we have come since the 1981 Mario to the 2008 version.

be pumped out by the thousands with little to no startup costs. With such minimal requirements, it was easy for the individual programmer to sit down over a weekend and create a complete collection of games that even the most mild mannered of baboons could zombify to. And believe me, back then, I did.

But like most areas of the gaming industry, even flash games started to quarrel like two one-legged men in a butt kicking contest and so the average consumer jumped from game to game looking for a better or more graphically challenging form of entertainment. With opportunity knocking on the door, in stepped the behemoth we all know and love: Facebook.

In Enters the Evil Presence of Facebook Gaming

While Facebook was introduced to the masses in 2004, it wasn’t until 2009 that they entered the foray of gaming. With titles like Barn Buddy and Happy Farm, players grew crops, watered their plants, and even pulled weeds. Too bad my mom couldn’t have convinced me these types of chores were fun. But it wasn’t until Zynga’s FarmVille hit town that the Facebook gaming industry took off. And like a plague sweeping through the crops, Zynga crushed the competition, not by using greater graphics (far from it actually) but by creating the most unholiest of tactics; the invasion of our news feeds. Ever see “Julie just found a Gopher in FarmVille?” or some other status like that? Well with such things invading our feeds, it can only be expected that us curious nellies would investigate what the heck Julie was doing with a gopher on facebook. Realizing that the people of the Facebook world were hungry for this type of product, gaming companies poured time and energy into creating the “next” Farmville and now our invite feed is chock full of requests from friends. Not complaining because…well…its still a free game right?
But just like the flash world, facebook too has become saturated in what can be called an obese industry. Also, just like the flash games, facebook games are also limited in the amount of sophistication they can use. Ever tied to the whimsical decisions of their master, facebook, the online gaming industry needed a new platform to drive sales. Why not go back to the original intent of online gaming and self host?

Modern Online Gaming as We Know It

No longer bound by the facebook shackles, small companies were able to develop well conceived games there were more open to change and included better graphics than that of facebook games. No longer did the little guy have to follow the law of Facebook and could therefore create the true game that they had intended. However, like all large groups of minnows attract larger fish, so to did the big gaming behemoths. Seeing the success that small game companies were having with their self-hosted online gaming, behemoths like EA and Westwood jumped onboard. Within no time games like Star Wars: The Old Republic, Command and Conquer Tiberium Alliance, and Wartune started showing up giving players big name opportunities with large budgets and endless gaming opportunity.

So with self hosting online games taking major steam, where will free online gaming opportunities go next? Write your comments below and let us know what you think.

Jul 06

No Such Thing as a Free Game?

Oh, so you say this is a free game?

Is there such a thing as a free game?

Nowadays we gamers constantly find “free game” opportunities that, if you are like me, seem too good to be true. Why would game companies like EA or Gamesoft even consider giving us a “free game experience” when we have already proven to them that we are capable of throwing oodles of cash at them for their other platform based projects? Have they lost their financial minds or is there an ulterior motive?

In most cases, online games can actually be free. You sign up with just your email address and the next thing you know, you are knee deep in ogre guts and pixy dust. However there are two strategies that game companies mainly use so as to feed their starving programmers and designers, cause remember even EA has to feed their programmers some stale bread…..sometimes.

The first is in the sales of “extras.” Ever played a game that offers extra game cash, jewels, better weapons, etc for the cost of real cash? For example in Clash of Clans you can pay to receive gems that can speed up production, or suffice for missing cash. In most cases this is very profitable because lets face it, we gamers are impatient and want to wield that mighty butt kicking axe and reek havoc and so $5 dollars later you become the biggest bad boy on the block. While I have never paid for the extras (after all I am the master free game ninja), talking on forums and in game play I have found that a major majority of players do go this route. Lucrative, but it is you choice whether or not to keep the game free.

The second strategy lies in commercials, and advertisements. Ever see a video or ad pop up before you start playing? This is because companies that want to sell to people like you, know that video games hold the key in getting your attention. Therefore, the game itself stands as an effective means to promote other products targeted at our market.

So as you can see, these free online games are actually free to play. You may have the opportunity to heighten your game experience by purchasing upgrades or may have to sit through a commercial but lets face it, its a small price to pay for such entertaining games at your disposal.