Are free Online Games really Free?

You are probably wandering how can some online games be free, and you are right to do so. Online games, that provide you with free play, usually make money in two ways. One is advertising, from sponsors that pay for traffic sent to their sites, and also pay a commission from their sales to the gaming site. The premium membership is the other common way. These special memberships are paid for by members that want to have advantages in game over the other players – these can range from getting more money/resources instantly or in time (per turn for example), for getting rare or unique items, or even getting specific titles (like donor, or sponsor). Premium memberships can be of different types depending on the times you donate (once or monthly) or on the price you pay (low donation – low benefits, high donation – high benefits). The owners of the gaming site can provide even more bonuses for higher paying players to encourage users to donate more.

There are games, that try to keep a balance between paid and unpaid players, which provide items per points (that you can buy for real cash), but also provide items for game cash (that you can earn in game for free) but have a level requirement to motivate players of all types to play the game.

Browser games are the best example from the online genre as they rely on both ads and memberships. On the one side you have ads all over the site while you are playing, on the other hand you have paid membership that can either provide you with a small in game bonus, and no adds, if you pay a weekly or monthly fee, or provide a big bonus in game, but still keep the ads. Some of the most common bonuses for browser games are advantages regarding turns, like recovering more action points per turn.

The games on social sites, usually involve a lot of activity and a lot of interacting and involvement of friends and family as well, as they require different things like neighbors or items that can only be sent by friends, and while they are entirely free, they too provide the option of buying credit for you to gain some advantages to increase your development.

As for the online games that rely only on ads, we can exemplify here the games for single player or multiplayer from various “free games sites”, that don’t charge anything for playing and don’t offer any advantages either (flash or java games are the most common) but the sites they are posted on are full of ads (especially banners).

So in conclusion, online games are free, and while some can be played as such, others provide unfair advantages to players that pay for them.

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