Another year brought another slew of hits to the free-to-play game market, and we here at MMOBomb want to showcase the best of the best! The games on this list are the editors’ picks for the most successful F2P games of 2013, whether measured in players, profits, or just overall buzz and excitement. If your favorite didn’t make the list, well, cry moar noob!

To qualify for this list, a free-to-play game must have been made available to the general public in 2013. That counts not only brand-new releases, but games that had a widely available beta or pay-to-play MMOs that converted to a F2P model. So you’ll have to wait until next year to see EverQuest Next Landmark. We think it’s got a pretty strong shot of making the list.

Dota 2

MOBA fans looking for a top-flight alternative to League of Legends finally got their wish when Valve formally launched Dota 2 in July after a two-year beta testing period. Touted as a more mature and hardcore title than LoL, Dota 2 is the most-played game on Steam by a wide margin, with half a million-plus players during peak hours, compared to around 70,000 for the #2 title.

In the “Year of the MOBA,” Dota 2’s clearly got the edge over the rest of 2013’s new releases. Not only has Valve been consistently adding new content for hardcore players, they’ve focused on assisting new ones too. An intuitive new player map helps new players grasp core mechanics, while Valve has added extensive collectable customization options for returning players. Valve has even made it super easy for veteran players to coach newbies in-game without having to play alongside them. Can Dota 2 carry that momentum into 2014 and beyond – and perhaps challenge Riot’s dominance in the e-sports field? Only time will tell.

Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft

As if conquering the MMO, RTS, and RPG categories wasn’t enough, Blizzard took aim at the collectible card game market this year, announcing Hearthstone and making the game available through a wide-open beta test. Early returns are positive, and the game seems to offer a solid experience comparable to Magic: The Gathering. In 2014, look for Blizzard to expand the gameplay with more and bigger tournaments as they strive to make Hearthstone a major player in the online CCG space.

Infinite Crisis

Dota 2 wasn’t the only big new player in MOBAs in 2013. Turbine unleashed Infinite Crisis in beta form this year, melding the MOBA formula with the heroes and villains of the DC Universe to create a compelling, action-packed new game. Competitive play and cash tournaments are already underway, and Twitch integration will help spread the game to the masses even more rapidly.

Marvel Heroes

While lacking the depth of its more mature counterparts, Marvel Heroes continues to chug along nicely since its June launch. Gazillion addresses balance issues and provides new content and new heroes on a regular basis. The tedium typically associated with an ARPG is perhaps exacerbated a bit, considering the game’s relative simplicity, but Gazillion isn’t really aiming for Diablo fans. It’s a solid, casual game made more for superhero fans than for the hardcore clicking crowd.

Neverwinter

While it may not have done anything revolutionary, Perfect World Entertainment’s Neverwinter hit all the right notes with Dungeons & Dragons fans starved for adventure in the fabled Forgotten Realms. A few early mishaps notwithstanding, the MMORPG looks to have a long shelf life, as fans have flocked to the Foundry content creator, crafting their own adventures to supplement the dev team’s storyline.

Path of Exile

No “out of nowhere” success story of 2013 would be complete without a mention of Grinding Gear Games’ Path of Exile. The ARPG won a legion of fans during beta and launched properly in October. It was considered by many the true successor to the most iconic title in the genre, rather than the underwhelming Diablo III.

Seven classes, different gameplay modes, and a gargantuan skill tree, reminiscent of Final Fantasy X’s Sphere Grid, makes sure that players will always find new ways to play. As if the game itself wasn’t good enough, the game is unabashedly free-to-play, offering very little to pry dollars from gamers’ wallets – a general boon to players, but mildly perplexing to players wanting to support the game.

Rift

Rift isn’t a new title, but Trion Worlds saw new life injected into the two-year-old MMO when it converted the game to free-to-play in May. While it does offer all-but-top-tier gear for sale – a sticking point for some – most of the game is offered for free, instantly placing Rift near the top of the F2P MMORPG food chain. Couple that with regular updates (including an upcoming water expansion) and you’ve got yourselves a F2P MMO winner.

War Thunder

If you thought only one company could make a good WWII-era air-combat game, think again. Gaijin Entertainment surprised everyone with War Thunder, and, while the game could use a little more polish, it’s well on its way to establishing itself as a top-flight (heh) destination for novice aviators and double aces alike, both on PC and PS4. If Gaijin can pull off its ground and naval battle systems with similar aplomb, it could be huge.

Warframe

Who could have guessed that people would be drawn to cybernetic space ninjas? Besides everyone, that is? Developer Digital Extremes took the not-too-chancy chance and crafted a game that’s long on action if a tad grindy. Fans aren’t complaining, though; the hack-and-slash shooter has garnered a legion of dedicated fans. Our favorite comment? The guy who said he’s “just getting into the game” after 500 hours.

85 COMMENTS

  1. In that list i just have to mention that that “Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft” was just a Blizzard fan that you are and “Infinite Crisis” i really don’t think it has enough time to get in that list. If you are going to make a real list of criteria, just remove that “Blizzardly” fan game that are in beta, only in the last 3 or 4 months was really played and the other still beta moba game is the the same reason. A real sensible list would be the “Dota 2” that deserves the top 3 i would say. Maybe you should put the “TERA Rising” consider for many the best free MMORPG after and replace the other one for “Prime World” that was really a played moba differently from the normal that called the attention of people and even for some time there was a lot of streamings of this game.

    MMOBOMB, this was just and advise and next time give a really criteria of a real list, not for fan or last part of year in games really played since the year started in 1st January 2013 or anything else for call people attention. Cheers and keep doing your good job as always expect here lol.

  2. Marvel Heroes. Not P2W, but Pay 2 Enjoy.
    Warframe. Jesus the grinding in that game, monotonous enemies, only a few tile sets. The art team is the *Only* thing people are playing for, at this point. That and mindlessly killing everything with their ultimate which they can spam 24/7.
    Rift and Neverwinter are extremely P2W, I remember Neverwinter takes about 30 ingame days of straight grind for a bag. A BAG!
    Can’t say much about Warthunder, but I’d rather say that World Of Tanks is definitely more popular then this.

    The only game worth noting here is Path of Exile. Good devs, amazing customization, good gameplay, not P2W, it’s everything Diablo 3 should have been, with the addition it’s free!

  3. What about Tera? I’m not really a fan but if Rift hit this list there’s no way Tera should be excluded as it’s drawn a pretty massive amount of dedicated fans. Not sure on the exact numbers but I never would have expected Rift to pass it up even though I prefer Rift my self.

    • Go to tera facebook fanpage e look about stats of game: a lot (a lot) of people crying about bad support/patches/dead game/. This game just have Cash shop updates.

  4. Pretty awful list, but that’s honestly to be expected.

    RIFT went F2P in 2013 because its been dead since 6 months after launch. It’s just a last, sad attempt to get back up. How it made the list just shows either how weak the list is, or how weak 2013 was in general.

    Infinite Crisis only has any popularity because it uses superheroes. It has no real gameplay to hold it up. It’s a horribly imbalanced mess of a game, with no real outstanding features.

  5. What about Hawken and Firefall? Those are both at least in Open Beta now, right? I suppose that Firefall is still undergoing some major changes, but that and Hawken are fairly original and enjoyable games for me.

    • Firefall was dead on arrival. It’s just a barren wasteland that is currently awaiting being shut down with nary a whisper to oppose the decision.

      I could be wrong but Hawken is a 2012 title isn’t it? too lazy to check. It feels that old anyway, I remember playing it ages ago.

      • Actually, the Hawken dev team is scheduling it to launch officially in Q1 of this year. Seems it’s been in open beta for a year and closed beta for about 6 months before that. The’ve changed things up a bit and are still tweaking. I likes it.

        As for Firefall…I’ll see what happens when they get further along in the revamp. It’s never been dead, but the population ebbs and flows. Too little real direction in the development process until recently.

  6. I agree with this list for the most part. The one thing I disagree with is how good PoE is. I left D3 and played PoE for a while and returned to D3 later. I found Path of Exile to be a cheaply made and dated knockoff of what D2 LoD was. The graphics were only slightly better. The story is atrocious to non-existant and the playerbase is already overrun with idiots that all they do all day is talk about other games BESIDES PoE. Honestly, as disappointing as D3 was it is still 10x better then PoE. People forget some of the issues with PoE is the same thing they complained about in D3 such as:

    Random generated stats
    Random legendary drops (meaning you couldn’t farm a specific boss for an item like D2)
    Lag and errors(this also happened a lot with PoE’s launch)

    Not to mention even though I got frustrated I was never “too worried” because D2 sucked until LoD also. Anyone who was around remembers the forums before LoD, it was absolutely insane, even worse then D3’s launch. Heck they even shut the dang forums down for a week to stop a guy spam botting it 24/7.

  7. I think that can accept only half of these games as a top games of 2013 (Warframe, Hearthstone, Rift, Neverwinter and Dota 2), the others are in my opinion too much boring/lame/iritating for me.

  8. I’ve played about all of these games, with the exception of warthunder.
    they are all pretty decent.
    warframe was awesome at first till I felt that it got a bit unnecessarily monster hunterish(love mh series) with the excessive grinding for orokin cores that barely spawned.
    Dota2, pretty great I dropped it because my friends play league more.
    path of exile, another great game(that skill tree is frigging massive I think that how you subclass)
    rift, felt like defiance mashed up with a dash of WoW. Multitude of classes though, which is a plus.
    marvel heroes, great Diablo inspired game (still recommend path of exile unless you want to play a diablo-style game with marvel characters) my time with deadpool and rocket raccoon were great.
    I would go thru all of them but my tab is gonna die.
    these games are great idek which is the best koff*neverwinter*koff
    bout I dont play any of them anymore, I play pso2jp and blade and soul China.
    I was eager for those games THIS YEAR but Sega b.s’ ncsoft is busy with Wildstar(which will bring me back to American mmos)

  9. Wait, wasnt RIFT an older launch as well ? Any ways, 2013 was hard year. Mot as much activity as others and titles are soso. Seemed more of a year of small updates, overhauls and deletions. I end this year with a hard drive containing: Defiance, warframe and thats it. I installed and played all f2p listed here andid to high lvl… All removed and replaced with a SNES and PS1 emulators and playing classic rpg Roms…. 2013-2014 is grass roots classics time. Sadly not even box purchase single player games for PC are shining this year…. Metacritic has games kike passport, a 16 bit looking, bore fest as top 5 PC game. Wbone and piss station take the game cake. Your move PC. The hardware out does the software and piss poor companies holding your gaming potential back

  10. haha .. ur probably had been reported and got low priority countless time cuz ur noob so thats y u re-install and at last you give up … yeh good gaming life …. loser

      • Indeed, those types of “gamers” are the reason the game is not as famous (Compared to “LOL” which already has such a community also toxic), since the community is against new players.
        You can only play Dota if you put mute all of your team.

      • toxic lol i really hate that word… that all ppl cry about your toxic .. but i wouldnt be toxic if u was doing somthing rite… new player gg play ai not rank

  11. warframe would be AMAZING if it didn’t feel like you were playing the same exact map over and over and over and over and over and over again..

      • considering the rate at which they put out new content, I wouldn’t be surprised if in a few more months they’d have several new planets even. The current amount of things to do keep me more then occupied without the feeling of repetition and with the adition of friends to play with only adds to the entertainment value.

  12. I my self hate that dota2 not because its a bad game but because it’s stolen from blizzard.
    its a great game and i play it (but LOL is the best :D) but just for now till Heroes of Storm comes in and change the tides.
    and thank you for the list mmobomb

    • sorry i wrote so much xD
      Bliz and valve have worked things out, this last event in dota replaced one of the “blizz” characters Skeleton King (from diablo) and replaced it with their own hero, Wraith King and plan to do the same thing with a few others in time to come. The reason it was ‘stolen’ from blizzard was because there was such a demand for a new Dota but bilzzard wasn’t willing to step up, so valve being kind to the masses put it in production. Keeping some of the elements that made dota dota meant bringing original characters back in which would mean those characters would be blizzards style.

      As for LoL, its a great game dont get me wrong (League or Dota is up to you). This is just my opinion so dont go crazy guys.
      League = Simple moba with gimmicky heros but great for beginners to the moba scene, Each Hero that comes out just has a new gimmick attached that attracts sales, not to mention each release is usually always OP for a while which again is designed to attract sales. LoL’s Competitive scene has dropped off, with not nearly as many Viewers to Playerbase of the game in comparison to Dota2. Dota2 had about 35,000 more viewers. Think about it like this Dota2 currently has 1.5 mil players and LoL has (last i knew) 25mil. With such a smaller playerbase and to have a larger viewer count is ridiculous. Only thing i can think of that Lol has over dota2 is the 20min surrender mark…

      Dota = Harder moba, more punishing, more competitive. In dota, you can deny enemy farm, towers, and sometimes even kills. Dying, you give the enemy YOUR GOLD and your respawn timer grows each time. Heroes are free from the start and you earn ‘skins’ through equipment drops and trading. Just recently a hero came out that made me think of dota because of how gimmicky it is, Legion Commander who is broken right now. Its also easier to make a comeback in dota2 through smart plays, while in LoL its near impossible most of the time.

    • You are more than welcome to have a different opinion on games you enjoyed vs. what we found enjoyable. You can’t please everyone. Still, Dota 2 has a huge following (myself included), offers content for inexperienced players and experienced, plus it receives consistent updates with no P2W aspects. Pretty enticing offer if you ask me.

  13. I’d have to go with Blade&Soul 2.0, i know the game is in chinese and all but it is easy to get into. Best of 2013 and when an NA or European version comes out in 2014 it will get the best 2014 game as well. I dont see any f2p mmorpgs out there right now that can compete with it.

  14. Fair enough, good work spunk.
    Let us expect good tidings out of 2014 ^^)v
    I drink to that.

    I guess in 2013 the only game i really liked was Path of Exile, a truly f2p quality game like that is second to none. I hope others will follow poe’s example of f2p model as well.

      • Hearthstone was suppose to be in Open Beta when this posted, but it got delayed till early January. Still, everyone who applied up until now has gotten a key (they said it themselves), so the game really is available to most who wanted to get in and actually tried to do so. No fanboyism, we just feel Hearthstone is really enjoyable to play just like all the rest of the games on the list.

        • yeah, pretty interested how I never got a beta key either even though I applied and couldn’t get in till the Open beta hit. We both know you aren’t actually stupid enough to believe that a company saying something makes it true, so why on earth did you actually include that in your post?

    • Path of Exile > Star Wars: The Old Republic > Age of Wushu > Age of Conan: Unchained

      All are decent F2P MMO’s that don’t require high specs.

  15. Not sure about this (paid post) top free game was…
    I follow several gaming websites, and i can say that is i have never heard or do positive notes for some of these games described.

    WAR THUNDER>What?It is a game that at no time of the year was “expected”, said as popular, or did success. (Never saw the game between the tops twitch tv / stream) so…

    Neverwinter and Rift>
    Had good launch as F2P, now both are “dead” and described as P2W games. (Very few viewers in stream / twitch) Numerous critics in forum / facebook

    Path Exile >Diablo 3 (frustrated) fanboys, have a decent playerbase.

    Warframe>Indie. Sci-fi Fanboys, not at all “popular”.

    The only games I see as really popular and successful in 2013, although I do not play both and not like:
    Dota 2 and Hearthstone who excel in amount of players, spectators on Twitch TV and good reviews on websites, forums etc. youtube.

    Several other titles of 2013 were forgotten, but I believe it will not only beyond the view of the site, if not the business ($ $ $)

    • Marvel heroes and infinite crisis >2 types of game for fans of Dc/Marvel. Infinite crisis was absolutely copy of another sucefull moba, Marvel heroes its good,however it has a limited set of model for selection of characters and an absolutely repetitive mechanics ( Diablo style).
      Both are not very successful, but Marvel heroes was absolutely the most popular.

    • If we were judging these games based on their twitch numbers we would have just called it “MMObomb’s top twitch.tv games”. These games are what we (not you) consider solid titles which were released in 2013. This means we found them to stand out among the new F2P crowd this year. If you feel there were other titles that were F2P that came out this year and were more deserving of attention, please feel free to discuss them in the comments. Not everyone has to find every game on the list appealing.

      • I appreciate the response Spunky!
        I’m critical and usually have a vision behind (perhaps wrongly) of the gaming market and how advertising is made. About my personal experience on twitch is really my opinion, not a set number of player base(Sorry about that)
        Ps: I come to mmobomb everyday and follow your work from another website, I had a negative impression of how it was “manipulated” and that brought me to it :P!
        Again, thanks for the reply and continue being transparent!

    • first thing first.

      Warthunder yea it may not be,what called as successful but yes its a hyped game currently.

      Neverwinter had some issues early when it was launched,exploits and all but yea they really working hard now and overcame most of the problem.I have played in early stages of Neverwinter when it was launch and cant find p2w though.

      Rift Dead?p2w? you might be kidding man.Their subscribers might be somewhat low but its not dead.And hell its not p2w game.The most powerful gears cannot bought with real money.Secondly its a skill game,one can defeat a higher gear player with pure skills.

      Path of Exile is only for D3 frustrated fanbase,actually they are one of the 1st true-f2p game to be introduced in mmorpgs otherwise only korean/japenese p2w games.And I came to know that their Asia distribution is with Garena now.Expected its rise by huge Percentage.

      All the contents written in article are 100% legit and I dont find anything… “paid”.

    • What you’re saying is that popularity defines playerbase, and you’re correct about that. However, you must not’ve done your, or enough, research on playerbases. That was easy to tell once you threw the word “fanboy” into your speech.
      I’ve played both Neverwinter and Rift. I couldn’t stand Rift. Got boring quick. BUT, I noticed a fairly large amount of players just at the starting location. Neverwinter is also fairly popular. While I also can’t stand Neverwinter, it has a respectable amount of players online at all times. Not really dead, not really P2W. Streaming and critics have no impact on popularity.

      War Thunder is far more popular than you think. I’ve yet to find a game I can’t connect to because of empty servers, and the reviews are actually good.

      I won’t comment on Path of Exile because I’ve never played it.

      No need to dictate that Sci-fi fanboys make a game unpopular, though. It makes your entire review null and biased. Warframe has very high popularity, which is boosted even more by being Playstation 4’s frontpage shop title. I will point out that I am a very active player and founder, and I will also point out that the popularity is absolutely NOT because of the game being a bit grindy. However, it is very much so “grindy.” It’s still in beta, but it’s doing very well for beta.

    • Warframe> “not at all popular”? Then how could this game get top10 most playable in Steam last September? and not to mention there many no-steam user who play the game.

  16. Nice to see a decent number of new F2P games distinguish themselves from the dungheap this year. Maybe those pecker-heads in suits at the publishing companies are starting to realize the Korean/Zynga P2W business models aren’t the most ideal anymore.

  17. how can you not put Dragon’s Prophet. dota 2 is not even 2013 game.. it started way earlier..if you’re gonna include a game which have been out for like more than 2 years now then why not include TERA. its quiet good, the only problem people would see really is it is boring to play because of its HUGE land and quest are far. but in reality, isnt it kind of real life like questing? gotta earn it XD

    • Because Dragon’s Prophet had a lot of weird F2P restrictions (not being able to stable more than two dragons being one of them) not to mention the gameplay was fairly sub-par, and Dota 2 is a game of 2013. It was officially released this year and has been updated extensively since it was first introduced in closed beta.

    • Dragon’s Prophet kinda died down, the same thing happened to Age of Wulin, they started of strong made a lot of noise but when people got to play them they weren’t what they seemed for whatever reason, whether it was for repetitive or restrictive game play, DOTA is still a big name, not that those games don’t have anyone playing, they just didn’t deliver. And yes as it was previously stated DOTA 2 was released this year, althought it had been in beta for a very long time.

      Don’t get me wrong, I’m not even into DOTA personally I didn’t like it, I prefer LoL. Also things like this are always a matter of opinion.

  18. Will put it bluntly , if there were such diffrence as 500 000 to 70 000 for dota , the interested and streaming and viewing was going to be so much up for the matter . There might be boom on release week or something , but people need to be stupid to believe such things . Doubting the peak for LoL if we go for peak is 70 000 when you wait for 20 000 que to pass for minute/s on one of all servers .
    I’m not denying interest and all in dota and i’m not against anyone interest , just i like facts to be facts and this seem like lies to me , or they overestimate dota or underestimate lol . Or mayeb its a single LoL server and there is not only one , idk . Dota 2 might grow and is or get bigger then LoL , but doubting it at this stage and these numbers seem rediculous compared to reality.

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