The most popular free to play games

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Different from other economic sectors that have been heavily affected by the pandemic, the gaming industry had an surprising growth during the year of 2020. In the midst of that, releasing free to play games has become a strategy for many developers to attract more players and boost sales.

Previously seen as one of the traits of an unhealthy lifestyle. Yet, gaming was actually recommended by  nobody other than the World Health Organization as a healthy social pastime during the pandemic .

Thanks to the need for social isolation, the gaming industry is growing a lot more than predicticted. And, even after the vaccination has started worldwide, there is no sign of slowing down after the pandemic.

It’s no wonder that gaming became the most lucrative entertainment industry. In August of 2020, we had estimated 3.1 billion gamers in the world – that’s almost 40% of the entire population of the planet!

Said that, it’s also important to note that Latin America is one of the areas where we expect the fastest growth in 2021 – 10.3% more when compared to 2019 figures.

Yes, those are big numbers. In spite of that, most of the Industry revenue is actually coming from games that you can play for free. But how does that work?

What are free to play games?

“Whoever said there’s no such thing as free lunch clearly didn’t work in SaaS.” Andew Gazdecki

Nowadays at least 75% of softwares companies offer a free trial. Said that, in the gaming industry it couldn’t be any different.

Traditionally, you had to actually buy a video game before playing it. However, today this is not true anymore for many of the most popular games available in the market

The Difference Between F2P and P2P.

The term Free to Play (also known as Freemium, F2P and FtP) is used to describe games where most of their content can be accessed for free.

They are different from game demos (where you can play the game until a certain point, then later you have to buy the premium version if you want to continue playing) because you can play the full game. Yet, you still have the opportunity to boost your experience by purchasing new maps, skins, weapons, etc.

On the other hand, we have the pay to play (also known as P2P or PTP), that you need to make a payment before playing them.

For a long time the term “free” has been associated with games of less quality or with a frustrating experience. But, with the increase of competition, free to play games started offering an increasing advantage for the gaming companies.

Simply because more people are likely to try them and, if they like it, spread the word and attract new players.

Because of that, developers have been striving to deliver a better and more engaging experience in freemium games. As a consequence, not only some of the hottest titles in the industry are available to be played for free.

Not only that, but actually more than 85% of the total revenue of the industry comes from free-to-play games.

Keep reading to get to learn about the most popular free to play games and how they make money.

What are the most popular free to play games available?

Remember when they said the best things in life are free of charge?

Brought as a solution to both fight piracy and attract more players through word of mouth, some free to play games have become a worldwide phenomena. Get to know some of the most popular ones:

Garena Free Fire

Free Play Game for Mobile, available on both Android and IOS

Free Fire wasn’t only the most downloaded mobile game of 2020, it also reached the record number of 100 million daily users in August of 2020. It is also standing out in the latin-american market as the highest grossing game in the region.

Free fire is a battle royale game. Which means, for the layman, that it’s a mix of last-man standing gameplay and survival strategies.

You start the game with no weapons or any kind of equipment, on an island with up to 50 players. You have to be fast to find medical equipment and other items to be able to defeat the other players.

In this game, your ultimate goal is to defeat all other players and be the last one standing.

Each match lasts around 20 minutes. But the fun game play wasn’t the only feature that made Free Fire so popular worldwide. Thanks to it’s simple graphics and gameplay, it is a game that most mobile devices will be able to run, even the simplest ones.

According to the CEO and founder of the brazilian gaming news portal Mais Esports, “Free Fire democratized esports”. The reason for this, according to him, it’s tha Free Fires low system requirements makes it possible for people who don’t have a lot of money to buy expensive gaming platforms to play.

Thanks to that, it’s not a coincidence that the most popular videos about FreeFire are made by latin american and asian YouTubers.


Available on Windows, OS, Mobile, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S

Who wouldn’t like to try for free one of the favorite games of the rappers Drake and Travis Scott?

The mobile version of Fortnite had over 78 million downloads in the first year of its release.

Said that, it is not difficult to understand the reasons that make Fortnite a cultural phenomena with hundreds of millions of players worldwide.

Available for most gaming platforms, the game can be played in three different modes:

  • Fortnite Battle Royale: with up to 100 players per match. In fortnite, you have the option of playing alone, in a duo or in a squad. The final objective of every match is to be the last player or team remaining.
  • Fortnite Creative: it’s a sandbox style game where players can customize private islands and share them with up to 15 other players. There, you have freedom to create your own game, including battle arenas and other types of challenges.
  • Fortnite – Save the world: After a sudden storm causes 98% of the population of the world to disappear, up to 4 players have to collaborate in various missions to protect the survivors from the storm and zombie-like creatures.

While Battle Royale and Creative are free to play, save the world is a Pay to play. The two first modes can be fully enjoyed for free, but, if you feel you need to add an extra to your game, you have the option of purchasing V-BUCKS, the in-game currency, and use it to buy customized items.

Dota 2

Free to Play Game Available on Windows, OS and Linux

With 11 million active monthly users, in April of 2021 Dota 2 had a peak of 705,534 players playing at the same time.

It was criticized by many for being a complex game, but it didn’t stop the multiplayer online battle fantasy game to become one of the most popular games on the steam platform.

Dota 2 is a game in which each player has to choose one character (also known as “hero”) that has a set of abilities to either help their allies or harm their enemies. After one of 119 heroes is taken, other players can’t select it in the same match.

In each match, the players are divided into two teams of 5 players each. Each team has a central structure called the “Ancient”, which they have to defend while they try to destroy the other team’s one. The game ends when either one of the Ancients are destroyed or one

The popularity of the game resulted in the creation of an annual championship. Last year’s tournament was cancelled due to the pandemic, but it will return in August 2021 with a $40 million prize tool for the winner.

League of Legends

Free to Play Game Available on Windows and OS

League of Legends was released in 2009 and it already counted with 11 million players by the end of 2011.

Despite losing a little bit of their player count around 2028, during the pandemic they made a major comeback reaching 2021 with a total of 115 million monthly users.

Despite looking similar to Dota 2 at first, since both include a team of 5 struggling to destroy the opposition’s base – called “the Nexus” in LoL, both have very different gameplays.

Different from Dota 2, you can’t kill your own allies. LoL also counts with runes, masteries and summoner spells that help your character to gain extra status and improve their abilities.

League of Legends also has a limited number of 16 free champions to choose from. Which may seem a disadvantage at first for some, it may be useful in game to specialize in one kind of character and to learn how their skills aid the team.

Thanks to the fun gameplay and team dynamics, League of Legends is seen as one of the most popular games of the world. It is also one of the most streamed games, with over 149 million hours of stream watched on Twitch in March 2021.

Call of Duty: Warzone

Available on PC, Mobile, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S

Released in March 2020 as a free-to-play part of the P2P Modern Warfare, it already surpassed the number of 100 million different players only one year after its release.

COD Warzone came not only as a very strong competitor for other battle royale titles, critics are calling it the game that changed Call of Duty forever – for the better.

It is no wonder that Warzone was first received with skepticism by the public. Even after the release of Call of Duty Mobile (which is a success in itself), nobody would think that Activision would dive so deep in the free to play universe as to release a F2P title of its biggest franchise.

Despite that, the game conquered the public and reached a record number of six million players in only 3 days. Meanwhile, the competitor Fortnite took 2 weeks to reach the same numbers.

Activision’s strategy isn’t only to generate revenue through microtransactions of extra in-game features. Call of Duty Warzone also helps to attract more players to the franchise and keep them engaged with the frequent updates to come.

The game also impressed more senior fans of COD, who described Warfare as a game that connected the dots of what seemed to be completely isolated annual games.


Available on Windows

One of the top 10 games on the streaming platform Twitch, Valorant already had impressive numbers of players per day (over 3 million!) during its beta testing phase.

Valorant is a game set in a near-future dystopia where you get to play as one of the 15 “agents”, each of them based in a different culture of the world (from Sweden and Russia, to Brazil and Morocco). You will be part of a 5 players team and your team will be set as either a “defender” or “attacker”.

The attacker’s goal is to plant and detonate a “spike” (or bomb) in either two or three plant sites in the map. Meanwhile, the defender team’s goal is to protect the plant site and eliminate the other team.

The game also finishes if one of the teams completely eliminates the other.

In recent months, Riot Games haven’t released any official numbers about the amount of users playing Valorant, which made some people think the game was dying in popularity.

Yet, according to the data we have from stream and other third-party websites, it is still one of the most streamed games of the world.

How do Free to Play games make money?

If you can have a great gaming experience for free, why would you pay for it?

Recently the video game company Ubisoft announced that it’s next launch,  The Division: Heartland will be free to play. Not only that, they intend to focus on more high-end free-to-play games, but they will still keep releasing their triple-A titles.

But why would a company that has so much success with the traditional sales model change?

Yes, there are the so-called “whales”, how we call the players who spend a huge amount of money monthly on their favorite games. What people don’t realize it’s that there is a lot more in the Free to Play Games business model than getting millions of players and hoping they will buy something.

Gaming isn’t only the most lucrative entertainment industry, it is also the most competitive. Because of that, game developers need to be ready to make quick changes and adapt to survive.

It is important to note that non-paying players are still able to bring on some revenue. To understand the impact that free to play games have in the industry, you have to start seeing them as part of a broad campaign to increase brand awareness.

Having said that, have you ever wondered why most free to play games are also multiplayer?

Free to Play Games Invite new Players

Ubisoft’s CEO  Frederick Duguet said that the free-to-play games are a form of growing their audience “by widening our brand at the top of the funnel” .

In other words, they intend to use their free content to bring on more people to play their games. When people have a great gaming experience, they are more likely to invite more people into playing the game.

Let’s also take Activision as an example. As we’ve seen in this article, Call of Duty is a huge franchise. Yet, Activision still released a free to play title of the franchise.

Even in cases of huge game franchises, there could be someone who would like playing COD, but they feel discouraged by the fee they have to pay before even trying.

In this case, the fact that there is a free to play title available creates a better environment for him to try the game and get to know the storyline. This not only creates opportunities to make offers in-game, but it also may result in them feeling more encouraged to buy the pay-to-play games of the same franchise.

Free to Play is a form to fight Piracy

Privacy is a huge problem when it comes to computer games, compared to other gaming platforms. Since it offers a better and safer experience than the one they would have by playing pirate games, making Free to Play games available is a very efficient strategy to fight against piracy.

It also makes the gaming more demoratic by allowing someone who wouldn’t otherwise be able to pay for a game to play. More than only that, it creates the opportunity to turn him into a paying client by making offers of features that, even though are cheaper than a full game, still have the power of improving his gaming experience above others.

Creating a VIP experience on F2P

Yes, free to play creates a more democratic experience. But it still doesn’t mean that all players are the same.

One of the main advantages of free to play games is that, despite not setting a minimum amount players have to pay in order to enjoy the game, it also doesn’t set a maximum amount.

Which means that, while in traditional P2P a player would spend a certain amount to have full access to the game, there is no limit of how much a big fan of a free to play game could spend.

The idea is to offer constant value and updates to the gamers. In this case, the amount of money to be earned shouldn’t depend solely on how you can make their gameplay better – but make their life more fun as a whole.

The upsell possibilities in F2P are immense. Most purchases made in game are microtransactions of in-game currency used to buy new features such as cosmetic changes to their character, new weapons, enhanced skills or even VIP maps. Yet, adding to that, there is the possibility of creating exclusive live events for paying gamers.

It is important to note that the gaming companies aren’t the only ones making money with free to play games. Many players have turned to things such as streaming and selling customized skins as a source of income.

That being said, the secret isn’t as much into forcing the client into buying new features as it is to create a culture around the game.

How to make my payments safe?

It is true that free to play games turned the gaming experience more fun and affordable at the same time. Nowadays, getting new features to improve the gaming experience is a lot cheaper than buying the traditional DLC’s.

May it be on official game servers or on third-party marketplaces, the best part of it is that the players may also get their share.

The more creative ones will be happy to spend some time creating new custom skins and even new maps. On the other hand, if you aren’t that good with graphic design but are able to communicate in a fun way and engage the public, you should give streaming a try.

Regardless of what you choose to buy or sell, it is important that you always choose a safe payment method to maintain your data safe from scammers.

What is Latam Gateway?

Latam Gateway is a company with experts with over 15 years of experience in game monetization. With us, you will have the possibility of both making fast and safe payments that will allow you to enjoy your game with tranquility.

We offer complete payment solutions for Brazil, Mexico, Chile, Argentina, Peru, and Colombia. Among our services:

  • Express debit and deposit payments with confirmation within 15 minutes
  • Chargeback-proof credit card payments – meaning you won’t have any surprise in your credit card bill
  • Fast and effective customer service in portuguese, english and spanish
  • Legal assistance to sell in Brazil

Contact us right now and get to know how we can help you to monetize your game or digital business in the best way.

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