Never pay to game again: 5 great free online games

With the wealth of excellent free games online, there's scarcely the need to pay for a game ever again. Here are five of the best, for free.

Gillian Wong/AP/File
With the wealth of free games available to play online, Hamm argues that you can easily avoid paying to play computer or video games ever again.

I’ve been an electronic gamer most of my life. I was playing games on my older brother’s Atari when I was four. I mastered Super Mario Brothers when I was nine. I’ve owned at least one video game console from every console generation.

Yet, today, I spend more time playing free games than anything else.

The simple reason for that is that there are so many excellent free games out there that a person can play on their computer that I scarcely feel the need to pay for a game.

In order to prepare this post, I kept a list of all of the free games I’ve played on my computer over the last two months. Here’s some of that list, just so you can get a great sampling of the free computer games available.

League of Legends
 League of Legends is a fast-paced competitive online game that mixes fast-paced game play and careful planning in an interesting mix. In the game, you play as a champion who battles other champions in online matches. The gameplay is really straightforward – mostly, you’re competing on a large map (that’s extremely reminiscent of Warcraft III) where you move your character around with the mouse and order it into combat against the enemy. As you battle, your character grows stronger, learning new abilities, and it also picks up gold, which you can use to buy better weapons and armor within the match. Usually, you play in groups, where two teams of five players compete against each other. The game also includes a really smart matchmaking system which pairs you against people of a similar skill and experience level as you.

Desktop Tower Defense
 Desktop Tower Defense is a very simple game in which you place towers within a small rectangle while little critters run across the screen. The towers you place shoot the critters and, with each critter taken out, you earn a bit of gold. However, each wave of critters is a bit stronger than the next, so you have to use your gold to either upgrade your current towers or place new ones.

 MotherLoad is a game not unlike the classic video game Dig Dug. In this game, you’re a miner that’s landed on an alien planet and your job is to dig deep into the ground for valuable ore and jewels. Of course, you need to return to the surface regularly to re-fuel and sell your goods, and if you can’t make it… you get the idea.

 I love playing the card game bridge, but I don’t really have any opponents in my area. Thus, I play online, and this is my favorite place to play. However, if you go here and don’t know how to play, you’ll be in trouble. I suggest learning using the American Contract Bridge League’s learning software, which is also free.

The Kingdom of Loathing
 The Kingdom of Loathing is a free comical RPG (think games like Final Fantasy, but with humor and stick figures). It’s completely free, can be played in your browser, and has loads of things to do. It’s fairly hard to describe; thankfully, they offer a pretty clear description of the game.

On top of these, there are a ton of games to play for free on social media sites such as Facebook and Google+. I confess to having not explored these much, but I do know there are many, many options available, both for casual gamers and for in-depth gamers, too.

The thing to remember is that many of these games finance themselves either through advertisements, donations, or micropurchases (where you spend a dollar or two to buy additional items). Be very careful with the micropurchases. Often, there’s plenty of games to play without diving into them.

Regardless, if you enjoy playing games, there are a lot of great games out there to play without spending your hard-earned money.

This post is part of a yearlong series called “365 Ways to Live Cheap (Revisited),” in which I’m revisiting the entries from my book “365 Ways to Live Cheap,” which is available at Amazon and at bookstores everywhere.

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