Commercial Games Released as Freeware

Over the years game publishers such as Electronic Arts, Bethesda Softworks, id Software and others have released popular titles from their back catalogs as free PC game downloads. There are a number of incentives for game publishers to release free PC games; some motives for this include building anticipation for the upcoming release, release of anniversary editions or the simple fact that a game may have run its course in terms of revenue and is released for free as a good faith gesture. Whatever the reason these free PC games give gamers a chance to download and play some great classic games.

These free PC games are games that were at one time commercially released to retailers for their initial launch but have since been released as freeware games. The list does not include games which have been released as free to play or massively multiplayer online free games which may be free to play for a time but include some sort of monetary commitment to getting full gameplay.

01
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Full Spectrum Warrior

Full Spectrum Warrior
Full Spectrum Warrior. © THQ

Original Release Date: Nov 18, 2004
Freeware Release Year: 2008
Genre: Real Time Tactics
Theme: Modern Military
Publisher: THQ

Full Spectrum Warrior is a squad-based shooter in which players control two squads of soldiers issuing commands and orders to complete mission objectives. The game is played, or rather shown, from a third person shooter perspective but players do not actually control any of the soldiers in either squad. Full gameplay is performed from a tactical view in which players issue orders such as to provide covering fire, hold a position and more.One of the primary methods for completing an objective is for one team to provide cover or suppressing fire for the other team, and with each team switching off as they move towards the goal.

Full Spectrum Warrior was released as a free PC game in 2008 and is ad-sponsored by the United States Army and can be downloaded from a number of sites.

02
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MechWarrior 4: Mercenaries

MechWarrior 4: Mercenaries
MechWarrior 4: Mercenaries. © Microsoft

Original Release Date: Nov 7, 2002
Freeware Release Year: 2010
Genre: Vehicle Simulation
Theme: Sci-Fi, Mech Warrior
Publisher: Microsoft

MechWarrior 4: Mercenaries is a vehicle simulation game in which players control mech warriors based on the FASA BattleTech MechWarrior games. It was originally released as a stand-alone expansion pack to MechWarrior 4: Vengeance in 2002. The game is set in the Inner Sphere region of the BattleTech universe during a Civil War. Players take on the role of a mercenary BattleMech pilot completing missions that star away from the conflict, but as the game progresses mission become more and more tied to the Civil War.

The game was released as freeware by Microsoft / MekTek back in 2010, but it has since been removed from the MekTek site. While the game is no longer available from the MekTek site, it is available from third party and community supported sites such as moddb.com which can be found through any google search

03
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Command & Conquer Red Alert

Command & Conquer: Red Alert
Command & Conquer: Red Alert. © Electronic Arts

Original Release Date: Oct 31, 1996
Freeware Release Year: 2008
Genre: Real Time Strategy
Theme: Sci-Fi
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Game Series: Command & Conquer

Command & Conquer: Red Alert is the first game in the Red Alert sub-series of Command & Conquer games. The story is based on an alternate history where the Soviet Union has invaded Eastern Europe forcing the remaining nations of Europe to form the Allies and start a war against the Soviet invasion. Command & Conquer Red Alert is one of the Top Real Time Strategy games that has been released for the PC and it introduced a number of new innovative features to the genre.

The game was initially released for Windows 95/MS-DOS and was released as freeware in August of 2008 to coincide with the release of Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 and the 13 anniversary of Command & Conquer. While EA no longer offers the game for download it allowed third party sites to host and distribute the game and add-ons for free.

04
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Tribes 2

Tribes 2
Tribes 2. © Sierra

Original Release Date: Mar 30, 2001
Freeware Release Year: 2004
Genre: First Person Shooter
Theme: Sci-Fi
Publisher: Sierra
Game Series: Tribes

Tribes 2 is a sci-fi first-person shooter set in a universe known as Earthsiege, where players take on the role of a soldier from one of five tribes. While the game includes a brief single player tutorial, Tribes 2 is primarily a multiplayer online game designed for matches of up to 128 players per match. The game offers gameplay from either the first or third person perspective depending on player preference. The multiplayer game includes a number of game modes commonly found in other multiplayer shooters such as capture the flag and deathmatch.

Tribes 2 was released as freeware download in 2004 but the servers required for online play were shut down in 2008. A fan community patch was created shortly after and released in early 2009 restoring multiplayer functionality. The patch and the full Tribes 2 game are both available for free download from Tribesnext.com. The site also contains a community forum and FAQ guide.

05
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Command & Conquer Tiberian Sun

Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun
Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun. © Electronic Arts

Original Release Date: Aug 27, 1999
Freeware Release Year: 2010
Genre: Real Time Strategy
Theme: Sci-Fi
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Game Series: Command & Conquer

Command & Conquer Tiberian Sun is the sequel to the original Command & Conquer game. The game is set after the events of Command & Conquer, Kane and the Brotherhood of Nod have returned and are more powerful than before thanks to a new Tiberium-based technology. The game contains two single player campaigns each with different choices and optional missions which can alter the difficulty but the final result is not changed. The two campaigns do have different outcomes based on the in-game character that is followed. Command & Conquer Tiberian Sun also features an expansion pack called Firestorm which included additional single player and multiplayer modes.

In 2010, Electronic Arts released both Command & Conquer Tiberian Sun and the Firestorm expansion as freeware. As with other titles that have been released as freeware, Electronic Arts is no longer hosting the game downloads, however, the free game download for Tiberian Sun can be found on a number of third party sites

06
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Hidden & Dangerous

Hidden & Dangerous
Hidden & Dangerous. ©Take Two Interactive

Original Release Date: Jul 29, 1999
Freeware Release Year: 2003
Genre: First Person Shooter
Theme: World War II
Publisher: Take Two Interactive
Game Series: Hidden & Dangerous

Hidden & Dangerous is a World War II first-person shooter where players control an eight-man British SAS squad through a series of missions behind enemy lines. Players will control the SAS team from either a first-person point of view or more tactical third-person perspective. It is up to the players to select the soldiers, weapons, and equipment based on the mission needs and objectives. Players will give orders and toggle through different soldiers giving them the ability to control those that may be closest to the action.

Hidden & Dangerous was released as freeware under the name Hidden & Dangerous Deluxe as a promotion for Hidden & Dangerous 2. It includes both the main game and the one expansion pack that was released, Hidden & Dangerous: The Devil's Bridge. Download sites can be found through simple Google search.

07
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The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall

The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall
The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall. © Bethesda Softworks

Original Release Date: Aug 31, 1996
Freeware Release Year: 2009
Genre: Action RPG
Theme: Fantasy
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Game Series: The Elder Scrolls

The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall is a fantasy-based action role-playing game that was released in 1996 and is the sequel to The Elder Scrolls: Arena. Players are sent on a mission by the Emperor to the city of Daggerfall to free a ghost of a past king and to investigate a letter that was sent to Daggerfall but went missing. The game is an open-ended style game in which the players can complete objectives and quests in any order. The decisions that players make during the game can have an impact on the game's ending which has a total of six different endings. The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall contains standard RPG like features such as experiencing to increase skills and abilities, magic spells, a wide array of arms and equipment and much more.

The Elder Scrolls II Daggerfall was released as freeware in 2009 by Bethesda Softworks to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the release of The Elder Scrolls: Arena, the first game in The Elder Scrolls series.

08
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Beneath a Steel Sky

Beneath a Steel Sky
Beneath a Steel Sky. © Revolution

Original Release Date: March 1994
Freeware Release Year: 2003
Genre: Adventure, Point & Click
Theme: Sci-Fi, Cyberpunk
Publisher: Virgin Interactive Beneath a Steel Sky is a sci-fi/cyberpunk theme, point-and-click adventure game set in a bleak future where players take on the role of a man who is kidnapped from his tribe by armed men who are controlled by a master computer know as LINC. Players eventually learn more about LINC and the corrupt society and begin to look for ways to defeat the super computer. When the game was released in 1994 it received positive reviews and a cult following, it is now considered to be an all-time classic PC game.

Beneath a Steel Sky was released as freeware by Revolution Software in 2003 and continues to be available. It initially required the installation of ScummVM emulator in order to play but now is available for download from GOG.com and is compatible with modern operating systems. More details on Beneath a Steel Sky and download links can be found on the game page.

09
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Command & Conquer

Command & Conquer
Command & Conquer. © Electronic Arts

Original Release Date: August 1995
Freeware Release Year: 2007
Genre: Real Time Strategy
Theme: Sci-Fi
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Game Series Command & Conquer

The original Command & Conquer game released back in 1995 is a groundbreaking PC game in the real-time strategy genre. The game was developed by Westwood Studios, who had also developed Dune II which is thought of by many as the first modern real-time strategy game.It enhanced and introduced many gameplay concepts to the genre and was from that golden age of Real Time Strategy games of the mid to late 1990s. The game tells the story of an alternate history where two global powers are at war with each faction fighting for the precious resource known as Tiberium. It also started the best-selling Command & Conquer series which includes more than 20 titles including full games and expansion packs and three sub-series.

To commemorate the 12 anniversary of the Command & Conquer series, Electronic Arts released Command & Conquer Gold edition as freeware which is still available for download.

10
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SimCity

SimCity
SimCity. © Electronic Arts

Original Release Date: February 1989
Freeware Release Year: 2008
Genre: Simulation
Theme: City Sim
Publisher: Electronic Arts Game Series: SimCity

SimCity is a city-building sim game originally developed for the Amiga and Macintosh systems in 1989 and the subsequently released for the PC later that same year. It is one of the all-time classic PC games, players can star the game with a blank slate and perform all aspects of city building and management or they can jump into an existing city and complete an objective based scenario. The game included ten individual scenarios in the original release. In addition to the three computer systems mentioned above, SimCity has been ported to nearly every major computer platform over the past 20_ years, including Atari ST, Mac OS, Unix, and many more including browser-based versions.

The source code for the game was released into freeware/open license in 2008 under the original working title of Micropolis, which can be downloaded for free from numerous sites.