‘Free+’ Seems More Honest Than ‘Free-to-Play’

‘Free+’ Seems More Honest Than ‘Free-to-Play’

People who are fans of words that mean what they’re supposed to mean are probably not fans of the rhetorical loophole exploited by the term “free-to-play”.

Many of the most popular games on PCs, smartphones and tablets are “free-to-play”, or “free 2 play”, as the phrase is often spelled in order to free it further from the responsibility of meaning what it says. These games, mostly, are free to start playing, after which you’ll either have to pay to advance or just wait a while to go further. Most players, the makers of “free-to-play” games say, don’t pay. Those that do pay a lot.

I think the term stinks.


Thank goodness, then, for Gameloft, a company that is often slammed for snatching other people’s ideas. I think they may have just come up with a superb idea of their own. They have just announced the release of an iOS game they’re calling: Brothers In Arms: Global Front. Free+.


What does “Free+” mean? I asked a Gameloft rep who confirmed that, yes, it’s another way to describe “free-to-play” games or “freemium” games. Brothers in Arms: Global Front. Free+ is indeed free to download. And it does cost money to speed through the game. The official description on iTunes says so:

Earn Dog Tags and XP as you play that can be used to unlock loads of extra features and gear to customise your soldier, or purchase Medals to unlock them faster. It’s up to you.

As you can see from that description Free+ is not a new concept. It’s just a new term. I think it is a better term, a superior one to “free-to-play”. That little + signals that there’s a catch. You might read it and thing: “This game ain’t free. It’s free, plus…” You’ll wonder what that plus means and so at least you’ll know something’s up. The + sign even resembles an asterisk, just a little. How could you not know there’s a catch.


Let us praise “Free+”. Let us embrace that advance toward truth in marketing. Let us salute Gameloft for this innovation in gaming grammar, which they’re also using on one of their racing games. (And if they grabbed this idea from someone else, too, I’m sorry.)


  • There is three different types of free to play methods that seem to be in the marketplace at the moment

    There is the league of legends style where you may progress slower but no actual gameplay is restricted. Cosmetic items cost but are not essential to progress

    Then there is the farmville/smurfs sort of thing where you can do a certain amount of things but once you run out of action points you can’t do anything until you get more (time or money)

    The third is the one I dislike the most and think is really the misleading term. Where you can play a certain amount of the game but until you pay money you can’t get further than that. Spiral knights is an example where you actually can’t get advanced weaponry unless you pay to but extra energy pod things.

  • The best Free-To-Play methodology is the guild wars 2 method.

    free to continue playing the game, but microtransations for more customisability.

    i like the idea that my purchases can make me feel closer to the game, but not directly affect the way or pace of my playing it.

  • Nope, they’re still snatching other people’s ideas. The app store already indicates free games with purchasable content as “+Free”, the plus being the indicator of purchasable in-game content. Gameloft just put it in the title as well.

    Personally, I find “Freemium” to be more indicative of a free to start game with costs associated with some aspect of it.

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