Looking Back on the Evolution of Free Gaming

 As a form of entertainment, video games are utterly unique. A large part of this is due to how reliant they are on the world of technology, and how the different facets of the technological world cooperate and evolve. Free gaming is one such element of this evolution, as a fundamental cornerstone that has seen significant changes over gaming's lifespan.

 With that in mind, we want to look at the different models which free games have adopted, to see where we currently stand, and what steps have been taken to reach this point.

Drawing Hits to Games and Websites

One of the earliest forms of free gaming came in the form of gaming demos. Rather than offering a full unlocked experience, these demos typically offered limited versions of the full titles. The idea here is that the demo would be enough to entice players to play the full version, while not giving players so much that they felt they had experienced all that a game had to offer.

Back in the age of DOS gaming, this was often seen with the release of what was termed Shareware. Made famous by the likes of Doom and Quake, this would be the first full episode of a three or four episode game, which the developers encouraged players to share freely between their friends.

In the modern age, the tack has shifted slightly to drawing attention to websites rather than individual games. These can come in the form of demos, though they can also take the style of full games.

In terms of modern online demos, perhaps none are as representative as those from the world of online casinos. Offering hundreds of casino games covering a wide range of different themes and genres, for the likes of slots, these add a free play option to show players exactly what they're in for. The only real difference here is that non-demo play comes with the possibility for payouts.

Other non-gambling alternatives, such as Kongregate and Newgrounds, support themselves through a more old-fashioned generation of advertising traffic. The range of games on these websites tend to be quicker and easier to get into than major downloadable efforts, and this makes them a perfect fit for more active users, ensuring a consistent userbase.

Freeware

For downloadable full free games launched today, the most common examples come from the world of freeware indie releases. Developed by single users or small teams, these are often made, not to generate a profit directly, but rather to give the developers a step into the doors of a major AAA developer or publisher.
 
While these can be found on PC, most commonly, this form of gaming has shifted its attention to mobile. Here, games like Alto's Odyssey and It's a Space Thing offer an on-the-go alternative to full-priced apps and other funding systems, while still pulling in significant numbers.

Abandonware

The final form of free gaming we want to discuss is that of the unofficial world of Abandonware. As the name suggests, these are games that have been abandoned, usually through the host developers/publishers going out of business.

When these rights drop, nobody profits from the games, and thus they become available for free online. Understandably, this mostly occurs to older games from older companies, leading to the situation we have today where thousands of older and classic games are freely available.

This includes the likes of King’s Quest, The Incredible Machine, Another World, and Prince of Persia, just to name a few.

The only real issue here is that most of these games won’t play well on modern devices, necessitating the use of emulators like DOSBOX and a few tricks, such as adapting the files to ensure they're playable.

Of course, going over the full history of free gaming would not be possible in anything other than a full-length novel. That said, the above examples point out the biggest and most influential free games in both a historical and contemporary gaming context.

If you’re looking for free games to play, then you’ll never be left wanting. The only problem is choosing where to start.
 
 
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