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One area that suffers greatly from the lame-factor are free games. Whether you’re talking online games or downloading full version PC games, nine times out of ten you end up with a game that has sound and graphics that look like something out of the 1980s, created for Atari or Commodore 64. If I wanted to play old games, I’d download vintage games like Simon previously suggested.
Over the holiday weekend, I started getting an inkling for a low-key game that would help me unwind, only require a few minutes to learn, and would be entertaining enough so that it would hold my attention. Since I’ve noticed that free downloadable games are usually the ones that are of much higher quality, I struck out in search of that genre. I am happy to say that I struck gold when I discovered Free Ride Games.
All Free Games, All The Time
The first thing I noticed when I arrived at Free Ride Games is that the games are described as “full-version premium PC games.” Game genres here include hidden object games, matching games and time management games. If you’re not really sure what you’re looking for, just click on “All Games” or “New Games” and you’ll see just how much Free Ride Games has to offer.
Just glancing through the titles on the main page – including popular games, new games and editor’s picks – it becomes apparent that this isn’t just some online game site like Miniclip or Pogo. Here, when you click “Play for free“, you actually download a full version of the game. They aren’t quite the level of high-end premium games you’d buy for retail at the game store, but they are not some cheesy flash game with pathetic graphics either.
To describe the level of “premium” you get with these free downloads, I would say that they are the sort of games you’d find at the game store on the “bargain” rack at maybe a quarter or half of the full-fledged PC games like Sims or Starcraft. In fact, we once paid ten bucks for a full version of Diner Dash a few years ago, and after a quick search I found it available as a free download on Free Ride Games.
In fact, not only was the original available, but so was every sequel to the game since then. Impressed, I knew there had to be a catch somewhere. You don’t get anything for free these days, unless it’s open source or it’s only a partially functioning game demo.
After playing around a bit, I realized how and why Free Ride Games offers premium games for free – they generate revenue through ad sales. The “install” is actually an installation of the Free Ride Games “container” app itself. This container handles all downloads and organizes all of your downloaded games in one place. When you first install it, you’ll have to remember to uninstall the toolbar and home page settings – unless you want them of course.
The player runs in your Windows toolbar, and shows up as the Free Ride Games “F” logo. This is how you’ll access all of the games that you’ve downloaded. Whenever you download another game (either at the website or through the application), a pop-up will appear that lets you play the game instantly.
Right click on the icon, and you’ll see the features available with the games manager application. To quickly access your downloaded games, just select “My Games.”
The “My Games” display opens up the player itself, and displays all of your downloaded games as large thumbnails. Below, you’ll also see additional suggestions of other games you might like. To play any of the games you’ve downloaded, just click the “Play” button.
Once the game opens, you’ll see why these fully functional games are available for free. Large banner ads are displayed on two full sides of the game window. However, they actually aren’t very distracting. They are a small price to pay for the ability to play these games at absolutely no cost!
There are a lot of really cool games to choose from – I spent at least two hours just sifting through these free downloads and trying them out. Here, I’m playing Mind’s Eye, an adventure/mystery game. As you can see, the ads may be formatted at a different place on the screen for different games, but typically they are on two sides, and fairly unobtrusive.
There’s also an embedded Free Ride Games bar where you can quickly search the web while you’re playing a game, or interact with other players through the Free Ride Games chat system (it uses the Meebo chat engine).
For the gamer that enjoys a fairly non-intensive, yet high quality PC game every now and then, you really can’t beat these free game downloads. Overall, most have the look and feel of many of the Facebook games that are so popular today – and there are really so many choices that there’s very likely something for everyone.
Give Free Ride Games a try and let us know what you think! Do you mind the ads in exchange for the ability to download full version PC games? What other sites out there also offer free premium game downloads? Share your insights in the comments section below.