Taking a Crack at The Free-to-Play Hall of Fame

Jason Winter
By Jason Winter, News Editor


It's that time of year in the sporting world where the talk turns to honoring the best of the best. If you follow Major League Baseball at all, you're probably aware of the recent Hall of Fame voting results, and the NFL is also gearing up for the enshrinement of a new class soon.

I thought it would be fun to try and come up with my own version, the Free-to-Play Gaming Hall of Fame. Like the real halls, my rules for enshrinement will be mostly arbitrary and opinionated. And although the whole enterprise is not to be taken nearly as seriously as its sporting counterparts, I expect plenty of debate and labeling of myself as an idiot for my picks.

(No, this isn't some attempt to create an actual award or virtual monument. It's just an exercise that popped into my head. Please, no speeches. I'm begging you.)

So what makes a game worthy of my F2P Hall? The only real rule I have is that its free-to-play nature has to be an integral part of its history or success. That's why a game like EverQuest – while certainly a worthy candidate in any kind of gaming hall of fame – doesn't make the cut. I'd say that most people, when they think of EverQuest, don't think of its current F2P nature as a major reason for its place in history.

Other than the nebulous notion of “worthiness,” I'm also going to say – at least for my Hall of Fame – that a game has to have been around for a while to be enshrined. How long is “a while”? Good question. Again, refer back to the part about being arbitrary, but that's why a games like Path of Exile, Dota 2, and Hearthstone won't be found on the list. Maybe in 2016.

Finally, I'm going to limit myself to five inductees, which seems like a nice, round number and is keeping in line with other Halls of Fame that limit the number of people voters can select (10 for MLB) or the number that can be inducted (four to eight for the NFL).

With all that in mind, here are my selections:


Team Fortress 2

Launched: 2007

F2P since: 2011

Billed as “the most fun you can have online,” Team Fortress 2 was a solid success even before going free-to-play. Once it made the switch in 2011, it sold more hats than a French boutique and monthly revenue was a dozen times higher than it had been before the switch. It's still seen as the gold standard of free-to-play games, with nary a complaint about pay-to-win.


League of Legends

Launched (F2P): 2009

With over 70 million registered players, and about half that active on a monthly basis, League of Legends is an easy addition to any F2P Hall of Fame endeavor. It's the game that put e-sports on the map and is largely responsible for the modern MOBA craze – not to mention the term “MOBA” itself. Those are good or bad points, depending on your point of view, but there's no question that League is deserving of the highest recognition.


World of Tanks

Launched (F2P): 2011

Like League of Legends, World of Tanks makes the list for its massive player base (75 million registerd users) and high-level competitive play. And, like the early MOBAs, it's spawned numerous other “tank battle” games. If those aren't enough to ensure one's place in history, I'm not sure what is.


Dungeons & Dragons Online

Launched: 2006

F2P since: 2009

In terms of active player base and financial success, DDO is quite a bit smaller than the other games on this list, but its historical significance and impact on the Western F2P market can't be overlooked. Turbine took a big risk when it converted the struggling MMORPG to F2P in 2009, and its success inspired countless other games to take that F2P plunge, either at launch or later in their life cycles.



Launched (F2P): 2001

It ain't pretty, and it's often scorned for its huge botting population, but more accounts have been created in Runescape than in any other MMO, World of Warcraft included. It was accessible right from the start, being both free-to-play and browser-based before either were cool (and for many folks, they still aren't), and it's still going strong after 14 years.

So that's my five-member Free-to-Play Hall of Fame class. What's yours?

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About the Author

Jason Winter
Jason Winter, News Editor

Jason Winter is a veteran gaming journalist, he brings a wide range of experience to MMOBomb, including two years with Beckett Media where he served as the editor of the leading gaming magazine Massive Online Gamer. He has also written professionally for several gaming websites.

More Stories by Jason Winter

Discussion (38)

Mogar 6 years ago
Agree with the list in terms of how long they've been out too. That being said I hope that the next Hall of Fame article you do includes Warframe. That is a game that has evolved so much since CBT/Release and continues to improve with no real pay-to-win.

c0mmon 9 years ago
QuakeLive must be added to this list

As well as RTCW:ET

lordNoX24 9 years ago
only 2 games come to mind, they are truly free with no pay to win what so ever and they're not fucking mobas: Aion and Lineage 2 from NCsoft. If i ever get into a new MMORPG game it will be another NCsoft game cause all the other companies only know how to make crap games with crap pay-to-win systems (Archeage lol, what a joke) and all other truly free games are mobas.... I've played almost every single mmo, moba, massive multiplayer fps whatever game out there and still can't find a more enjoyable and fun game than Lineage 2 was. The Pvp/Pk system was perfect. You kill a guy you get karma, someone kills you and you drop your gear, no safe zones outside towns. And no item binding bullshit. Also the ability to make a private store anywhere you sit down. Now i'm waiting for Lineage 3: Eternal which will no doubt be better than 90% of the crap that's on the market today.

kazz 9 years ago
I see too much dota fans. Just to you know, the dota creators left dota do create LoL, thats why LoL is what it is today. For example I could even mounted a company, buy some rights over dota and make the dota 2 instead. Just because there is a dota 2 game it doesn't mean he is the father of the moba and must be the best. There is dota players saying dota 2 is not the same as the 1st. Definitely Dota 2 is a good game, but as Jason Winter said, this is a personal list and he focus on games that went out some time ago like he said.

lol 9 years ago
Lol all at this dota fanboys.

Player 1 9 years ago
what about of SIMTE, it sure take some time to grind gods without being premium but its a very fun and enjoyable game

ezekiel 9 years ago
to the author.. now you brought all the fanboys here to a nonstop argument of which is better

Android 9 years ago
WHAT A CRAP LIST :Dm world of crap is pay to win, dungeons and dragons is fake free to play with locked characters and content, leage is one map repetetive crap, team fortress is the same just different genre, runecrap is fake free to play also and was pay to play, there i9s only true free to play games, first two but these games suck

zakena 9 years ago
what a joke this list feels like the author just listed his favorites without doing proper research.
there is a bunch of better f2ps Tf2 yes i agree but the rest is just utter crap.

Jooq 9 years ago
Personal opinion as always :)
- War Thunder
I don't know...I just love these games, even with SWTOR f2p stupid restrictions :)

Echoless 9 years ago
So you got LoL on the list, but not Dota... And you claim dota2 isn't old enough which I can digest, but really no dota? LoL basically copied dota and without dota, lol wouldn't even exist. Oh well, LoL is famous I guess.

Pennlion 9 years ago
Runes of Magic should certainly make the list, first big F2P game and still going. By you own rules DDO is disqualifed. Maple Story, Perfect World, and even Dungeon Fighter Online also deserve a place.

Todoran 9 years ago
I wouldn’t touch em with a 100-foot barge pole except TF2.

bigweel 9 years ago
have to say... Dungeon and dragons online isnt really F2P since you have to buy expansions after a certain point

View 1 reply
Grims Bane 9 years ago
My list honestly would be as follows

- Runescape, mainly because this mmo has seen its ups and downs but truly has kept itself unique throughout the years and is one of the longest standing mmo's out there to date that is still going.

- EQ

- LoL

- Tera

- Aion

View 1 reply
Freshundead 9 years ago
good list, though I would also add EQ for its staying power.

Razer 9 years ago
TF2 is the only one on the list that I'd ever recommend to anyone. The other four? Wouldn't touch 'em with a 10-foot barge pole.

View 2 replies
what a joke 9 years ago
Not dota 2? What a joke.

View 3 replies

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