Digital distributors frequently offer blockbuster PC games for pennies on the dollar, but playing such titles completely free of charge is generally only possible if you're willing to acquire them by unscrupulous means. GamersGate hopes to change that with its new service (PDF), which will allow PC and Mac gamers to experience a chunk of the company's collection without loosening their purse strings.
Simply called "FreeGames," the new platform will rely on advertisements to generate cash. In exchange for free playtime, you'll have to watch a "short" ad when a game launches. We also assume that you might be exposed to ads while browsing for games and perhaps even while downloading or installing them, but this is purely speculation and the company's announcement doesn't mention this.
Naturally, there will be some restrictions involved. For instance, the base service will only allow you to have five games installed at once. GamersGate notes that you'll be able to add more games, but this will presumably be locked behind a paywall and the company hasn't explained this yet. Considering you'll need an Internet connection for the ads, it's safe to assume there will be some degree of DRM.
Along with earning some extra dough off the ads, GamersGate CEO Theodore Bergquist notes that the free-to-play platform will allow developers to expand their audience. "The new service offers the best of both worlds for both gamers and publishers," said Bergquist. Not only will users be enticed to try games for free, many of them will purchase the full version to avoid the ads and clear their list of installed games.
Based on GamersGate's countdown, it seems FreeGames is scheduled to launch on September 1. Folks eager to try the service ahead of time can currently sign up for the beta, which will kick off in a week or so. It's unclear what games will be available during the beta and at launch, but the company expects to offer a "large portion" of its 3,000+ titles, which it claims is the biggest catalog available for download.