Earlier this week, Blizzard made StarCraft and StarCraft: Brood War available as free downloads on its official website. This is far from the first time a popular commercial game went the freeware route after a long, successful run.
Below are seven commercial games that you can also play for free.
The original SimCity debuted on Amiga and Macintosh computers in February 1989, selling one million copies by 1992. Beyond its critical acclaim as a city-building simulation game, it also earned awards and recognition for its success as an educational program. In 2008, Electronic Arts donated the source code to the One Laptop Per Child Program, which opened it up for free redistribution. Because EA still owned the trademark for the name SimCity, its free version was renamed Micropolis — Will Wright’s original working title for the first SimCity. Check out the source code here.
The game in the ongoing Elder Scrolls saga, the DOS-based Arena first debuted in 1994. Arena was known and even criticized for its starting difficulty, but there was no doubting the immense influence it had on the future of computer RPGs. To celebrate the 10th anniversary of The Elder Scrolls series in 2004, Bethesda Softworks released a free, downloadable version of the classic CRPG. You can still grab it off the official Elder Scrolls website.
The first of what would eventually become one of the most popular real-time strategy franchises of all time, the original Command & Conquer went free in 2010 celebration of its 15th anniversary.
The second Command & Conquer game and the first in the Red Alert series, Command & Conquer: Red Alert is set in a parallel universe where Albert Einstein — using time travel — prevents Hitler from rising to power in Nazi Germany. The new timeline allows the Soviet Union to expand its rule across Asia and Europe. In 2008, 10 years after acquiring developer Westwood Studios in 1998, Electronic Arts made Command & Conquer: Red Alert available as a free download to promote the announcement of Red Alert 3. While the official promotion is long done, EA allowed third-parties to continue its free distribution.
Bethesda released The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall in 1996, two years after Arena. The sequel introduced several features that would come to be staples in later Elder Scrolls games: buying houses, transforming into werewolves or vampires, and interacting with a huge network of guilds and warring political factions that made up the greater lore of the kingdom, to name a few. In celebration of the 15th anniversary of The Elder Scrolls series, Bethesda made Daggerfall available as a free download on its official website in 2009.
Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun is set 30 years after the events of the first Command & Conquer. It sees the resurgence of the cult-like organization Brotherhood of Nod and its leader Kane, presumed dead following the First Tiberium War. In 2010, Electronic Arts made both Tiberian Sun and its expansion pack Firestorm available as free downloads.
The online multiplayer shooter Tribes 2 did a lot of awesome things for its time. Without a class-based system, it demanded individual players have an understanding of their unique roles on the team. It also featured 64v64 skirmishes across a number of vast levels. Despite being well-received at the time, it earned more of a dedicated cult following. Hi-Rez Studios made it available as freeware in 2015.
Chloi Rad is an Associate Editor for IGN. Follow her on Twitter at @_chloi.