There are sufficient free games available for the budget gamer, many of which we’ve already reviewed on MakeUseOf, but it’s not the only alternative.
Sometimes, developers choose to re-release their games as freeware, or sometimes they simply neglect to support their creations and let the support dwindle away. Whatever the reason, a lot of commercial games – which, admittedly, often work with a bigger team on a bigger budget – become free over time.
Today we’ll take a look at the best sites to download old PC games for free. These will include (abandonware) DOS games, but also newer releases that are thrown to the masses by publishers in a good mood.
Abandonia is an index of abandonware, “dedicated to classic DOS games”. Abandonware titles are games (or software) with expired copyright, or games which are no longer supported by the publisher.
The site was founded in 1999, when the concept of abandonware was merely two years old. After a few inactive years, it was and has continued to blossom, with new ‘abandoned’ games added nearly every day. At the time of writing, the Abandonia database hosts 1,063 downloadable games and counts a total of more than 100.000 members.
Most games get a thorough review, screenshots, an editor rating as well as a user rating. You can browse and download old pc games by name, year, rating and category. As the game’s focused on DOS games, you won’t find any of the ‘newer’ abandonware games here, but the vast DOS archive should satisfy most of your gaming needs — at least for a while.
Another DOS focused site – the name gives it away – is DOS Museum. Their goal is to preserve old DOS games and make sure they won’t be lost over time. Through one of their other initiatives, they try to encourage other copyright into making their work available, “either for sale or as freeware”.
With over 1,600 resources (although this includes various patches and save-games), DOS Museum offers an even wider array of games. Through an easy, graphical interface, you can browse the games by name, rating, date or popularity. Although you won’t find excessive reviews like on Abandonware, basic information (usually in two or three sentences) is provided.
One of the best sites to look for an ex-commercial video game is Wikipedia. That’s right – on one of their pages, they keep a pretty up-to-date list of abandonware (loose interpretation) titles.
The list shows less games than these other sites, but from a wider array. You’ll find games from 1988 to 2008, all of them with a short descripton, most of them worth a try. If you think there’s a game ‘missing’ from the list that should be there, you can add it yourself – after all, that’s what wikis are for.
Another site that takes on a wider array of (also non-DOS) games is Remain In Play. This site refuses to take in abandonware and games that were free from the start. They only focus on commercial games that were deliberately released as freeware.
Even though site navigation is not optimal, they host plenty of great games – both new and old. If your search is superfluous, you might want to consider their ‘top 10 games’ in the sidebar, for it is the only way of sorting titles by rating. Otherwise, you can search their database by name, data (type), genre, or OS.
I hope you’ve found some great new sites today and will continue to discover cool free games to waste your precious time. If you’ve got any other “abandonware” recommendations, or have anything else to add in that direction, feel free to take advantage of the comments section below.