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Friday, December 1, 2023

How many free Epic Store games have you actually played?

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Epic Games is generating a lot of news lately, mainly due to the ongoing court battle against Apple. And, as a side-effect of that trial, a slew of documents that have recently been revealed shedding a bit more light on how the company operates.

For instance, we learned that Epic spent over $11 million on free games in the first nine months of giveaways. The document showed how much Epic paid developers to secure their games as freebies, along with how many new Epic Game Store accounts were created to claim those games. Pretty interesting stuff.

I know a lot of people claim Epic Games Store’s free games, including many of us here at PC Gamer. But how many of us actually play those games, instead of just logging in to nab them and then completely forgetting about them? I asked our writers if they were actually playing the free games or just banking them for some distant rainy day. You can tell us your own free game habits in the comments below.

Jarred Walton: I’ve claimed pretty much all of them, and even created separate accounts for my kids last year and started claiming the games for them as well. Some day, I’ll give them those accounts as a present and win the Best Dad Ever award. Maybe.

As for playing the games, I’ve probably tried at least five, maybe ten percent of them. I’m a sucker for a good Rogue-lite, and spent plenty of time with Darkest Dungeon. Was For the King one of the freebies as well? I played that for at least 15-20 hours. Mostly, though, I just like to watch my collection of Epic Store games continue to grow.

Jacob Ridley: I’m definitely in the five/ten percent bracket when it comes to playing my Epic Games collection, but I’ve also had a friend suggest a game to me for us to play and found out I already own it on Epic. That alone makes the semi-regular boot worth it.

Wes Fenlon: It looks like I’ve claimed something like 90 free games on the Epic Store, but the only ones I’ve played I actually owned on Steam, too. I just grabbed them because, well, why not? So… kind of 0% played. The biggest get for me was Grand Theft Auto 5, which came with a whole bunch of free stuff I could claim on my existing account. That actually spurred me to get into GTA Online in a big way. 

Dave James: I think GTA 5 is the only one of the free Epic Store games I’ve redeemed, and only because I somehow bricked my Steam version trying to install different Reshade mods to thrash the RTX 3090, and no manner of wipes and reinstalls would bring it back to life. And I totally would have played the hell out of it on Epic because I’ve been hate-gaming GTA Online throughout lockdown in the UK with a couple of buddies. 

We laugh, we cry, we rage at the frustrating flakiness and wasted potential that GTA Online represents. And we also get a kick out of punching each other in the face and blowing up each other’s shiny new cars as we hide from the braying GTA trolls in our hacked-together private sessions.

But I haven’t actually booted up the Epic version because when I did a complete reinstall of my system my normal Steam version now works a treat. Well, works as well as the still somehow incredibly slow-loading (even on a fricking NVMe SSD) PoS game ever does.

Tyler Wilde: All redeeming and no playing makes Jack a dull boy. (I haven’t played any of them.)

Jody Macgregor: I am a free games hound, cannot help myself. I claim all of them, and play a bunch. The most surprising was Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate, which I’d heard mixed things about. It turned out to be a glorious daft action movie full of hypercockney banter that I finished in a reasonable 20 hours. Now it’s one of my favorites in the series.

Probably forgetting a few, I tried Rebel Galaxy, Inside, Hyper Light Drifter, Everything, Sludge Life, What Remains of Edith Finch, and the DLC for Arkham Knight. Oh, and I finally gave Star Wars: Battlefront 2 a shake, which means now I don’t trust anyone who says it became good actually once they pulled back the loot box stuff—the old Pandemic Battlefront games were better in every way.

PS: Can we give Jarred some kind of father of the year award?

Morgan Park: Looks like I’ve claimed 54 free games and played exactly 8 of them. I have enough restraint to not claim a freebie that I know I’ll never play, but even so, I’m surprised my I’ve launched so few. I have easily the most hours in my free copy of GTAV (got back into GTA Online last year) and Assassin’s Creed Syndicate. I’ve tried out other indies like Sludge Life, A Short Hike, and Mutant Year Zero, but I didn’t finish anything. Pretty sad that I couldn’t even wrap up the two-hour platformer about a gliding penguin! To be fair, I’ve played a lot of those 54 games elsewhere before. I guess I like the idea of having a backup license in case every Valve server burns down someday.

Andy Chalk: I’m like Jody – wave a free game in my face and I’m going to grab it, doesn’t matter what it is or whether I already own it on a different storefront. 

Playing them is an entirely different matter, though. I’ve horsed around a bit with a few Epic freebies that I’ve been curious about, like Aer: Memories of Old or The Long Dark, but the vast majority of them go untouched. Some I’ve already played, most I don’t particularly care about, and either way, who’s got time for a new game every week?

Gonna keep claiming ’em though. Free shit, baby!

Chris: It’s the worst of both worlds for me. Too forgetful to even login to grab most of free games, and too forgetful to remember I’ve even claimed them when I do. I don’t think I’ve played any of the free games, though I did install Mudrunner (just haven’t tried it yet) and I will, someday, find a weekend to blow shit up in Just Cause 4.

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