Diablo: Immortal was recently released as the first free-to-play Diablo game to an audience who simply did not want the game. Gamers had concerns that free-to-play really meant pay-to-win, and these suspicions were confirmed when one Youtuber, Bellular News, figured out it would cost $110,000 to fully upgrade one character.
Now, with another popular Blizzard game, Overwatch, set to go free-to-play with Overwatch 2, gamers are worried that a similar fate will befall the popular first-person shooter. However, going free-to-play doesn't necessarily mark a game for death as there are many beloved games that thrive after making the change.SCREENRANT VIDEO OF THE DAY
10 Counter-strike: Global Offensive
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive was released in 2012 to eagerly awaiting fans, as the franchise was already incredibly popular. It became ever more popular, however, when it transitioned to free-to-play in 2018.
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This move was likely made by Valve in order to grow the game's esports community and lead to an increase in both viewers and potential professional players. The transition worked wonders for CS: GO's player base too, as it is still the most played game on Steam.
9 Team Fortress 2
Arguably the grandfather of all great free-to-play games, Team Fortress 2 is an online first-person shooter that sees gamers battle each other as various unique classes. Released in 2007 as a premium game, Team Fortress 2 was already popular but this was nothing compared to the player base it amassed when it went free-to-play in 2011.
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The entire game is now accessible at no cost to the player apart from entirely optional and non-essential microtransactions, making for a game that feels too good to be free. The free-to-play model was an incredible success for the game as it is still one of the most popular games on Steam over a decade later.
8 PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds
PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds (or PUBG) was the game that made battle royale games what they are today. Released in 2017, the game popularized the battle royale genre but its price tag meant that free-to-play battle royales like Fortnite quickly superseded its popularity.
However, the game finally went free-to-play earlier this year whilst still maintaining the quality and regular updates that were a part of the paid version. It seems like a good move for PUBG, too, as it is now one of the most popular games on Steam.
7 Destiny 2
Destiny 2 already had a fiercely dedicated player base after it launched in 2017, but Bungie must have felt this wasn't enough to flesh out the world of their MMO because the game became free to play in 2019.
Whilst most of the game's expansions were locked behind a paywall, gamers could still play through a lot of Destiny 2 content including raids, the main story, and various PVP game modes. This makes downloading the game an easy decision as it still provides players with some of the best MMO gameplay seen in recent years at no cost.
Despite being immensely popular, gamers might not be aware that Fortnite quietly launched as a paid co-op survival game in 2017. This early-access version of the game saw players construct forts and traps in order to survive against waves of zombies in a game mode called "Save the World."
After the success of the battle royale game PUBG, however, the game's developers quickly added a free-to-play battle royale game mode that would quickly overtake "Save the World" as a mainstay of Fortnite. The choice to go free-to-play and focus on the battle royale genre was clearly a smart one as Fortnite is now one of the most popular games of all time with multiple seasons, events, and brand collaborations.
5 Star Wars: The Old Republic
Star Wars: The Old Republic went the way most new MMOs go in that it launched to a great deal of popularity and excitement but ultimately lost a lot of its player base over a year or so. In order to combat this, the game added a free-to-play option alongside its existing monthly subscription model.
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This upped the game's player base immensely, allowing a multitude of gamers to explore the Star Wars universe in a genuinely great MMO for free. The Old Republic lets the player forge their own story as a Jedi, Sith, bounty hunter, or pretty much any other Star Wars archetype and is an essential experience for Star Wars fans. However, the free version of the game does come with a lot of limitations, meaning players will need to pay if they want to experience the full extent of the game.
4 Rocket League
Rocket League was already immensely popular for the five years between its launch date in 2015 and its transition to free-to-play in 2020. After this transition, however, its popularity truly soared.
The free version of Rocket League lets players play every bit of content the old game had to offer with the addition of new cross-platform capabilities. The game does feature completely optional paid customization options such as the ability to choose different types of cars and goal effects but these are the only paid elements of the game. As such, this really is an essential game for any gamer as it is endlessly fun and free on all modern platforms.
3 Starcraft 2
The real-time strategy game StarCraft II launched in 2010 to much anticipation from fans of the first game. It was extremely well received but, due to the game's steep learning curve, it has always seemed daunting for players that are new to the genre.
As such, transitioning to free-to-play may have been the best choice Blizzard could have made as it allowed players that are new to the real-time strategy genre to try the game at zero cost. Today, thanks to its free-to-play status, the game is still widely popular and receives content updates and patches despite being over a decade old.
2 Fall Guys
Fall Guys grew immensely popular in 2020 when it became the go-to game for streamers, often beating out games like Fortnite and Among Us. Unfortunately, the relatively simple gameplay meant that Fall Guys started to lose its popularity over time. This could have been a problem, as the game needs to fill 60-player matches regularly in order to be played properly.
This is likely why the game went free-to-play in June, as the move combated their declining player base and saw it grow from 10,214,450 monthly players to 17,058,805, according to ActivePlayer.io. Much like other free-to-play games on the Epic Launcher, Fall Guys has all of the great content from the paid game with the option of cosmetic purchases like costumes, making this game an obvious choice for groups of friends.
1 Halo: Infinite
Halo Infinite marked a first in the history of the Halo franchise when it was released with an entirely free-to-play multiplayer portion. This means that players can experience classic Halo PVP combat without paying a penny.
However, due to the free-to-play nature of the game, Halo Infinite uses somewhat tedious daily and weekly challenges as a means of having players earn XP and progress, including the option to pay for further challenges to progress at a faster rate. This has some gamers wishing that the game never went free-to-play as they much prefer the progression system seen in previous Halo titles. Despite this, the gameplay itself is ridiculously fun and console/PC owners would be amiss not to take advantage of this free title.