As you've probably noticed by now, the App Store ecosystem is loaded with ways to get free games. Whether you're involved in some elaborate referral code scheme or are simply downloading a game that a developer paid (potentially lots) of money to be promoted as free, quality is something that is rarely considered. We aim to change all that. Today, we're rolling out a new program we're calling TouchArcade Free Play.

We're following a few guidelines for this project, which will all likely evolve over time. First off, and arguably most importantly, we're only going to be featuring games that were well reviewed by TouchArcade, and we aren't receiving any payment for featuring them. The selection process is purely based on our editorial staff and the generous cooperation of the developers. We are also going try to find quality games that have never been free before. This isn't a promotion that's going to be scheduled on a daily or weekly basis- It's meant to be something special, something to get excited over, and something to look forward to. Additionally, they are all going to be real games, as they were originally meant to be played- Not games that are promoted as free as part of a stealth update implementing loads of IAP and in essence turning it into a free to play game in the process.

Essentially, when a new TouchArcade Free Play game goes up, it's our way of saying, "This game is great, everyone with an iOS device should have it, and now you can for a limited time without paying a cent."

All you need to do is keep an eye on TouchArcade for new Free Play titles, then download and enjoy them. If you like the games, help out the developer by leaving an iTunes review, telling a friend, participating in the forum thread and/or checking out the rest of their iTunes game library. That's it. There's no catch.

Stay tuned for the weeks and months ahead for all sorts of awesome free games courtesy of TouchArcade.


Our first Free Play title is Aralon: Sword and Shadow HD [$4.99], read more about this incredible open world RPG here. To stay on top of future TouchArcade Free Play titles, bookmark http://toucharcade.com/freeplay and download the TouchArcade app [Free] to get push notifications of when they go live!

  • http://twitter.com/VA1N Scott

    Sounds good! Looking forward to seeing some new games I can pick up.

    Just one question - is this going to be a new app (the TA Free Play) or just a featured post on the already existing app/site.

  • metalcasket

    Oh man...while this is all sorts of amazing, get ready for the endless onslaught of "Bastion? $4.99? Naw mang...I'll wait for it to go free with TouchArcade Free Play!!!11!!~! lolol" douchebaggery. Don't you dare, people...don't you dare. >_>

    • http://twitter.com/zigah111 Žiga Hajduković

      This should by the "free-app-a-day" done right, when TouchArcade does it!

      Would be really cool if you guys add some good exposure of the games AFTER they went free!

  • http://www.facebook.com/kim0ub Kim Bayart

    that's nice but i actually feel guilty playing a good game for free :D if it s good i will buy it anyway :)

    • http://www.facebook.com/billy.green.9828 Billy Green

      Developers involved with TA Free Play should add a donation feature to their website. Then if people like the game they can donate directly to the developers.

      • ndre

        Or one could simply consider their other/future games.

    • Jerutix

      Don't feel guilty! Just consider buying another app by the developer if you like this game. Promos like this can be really good for developers if it shows people the quality of their work and makes them long term customers. For example, Minigore (the hotly debated game) was free a year and a half ago. I loved it so much that I bought IAP later, then bought two of their other games. I would probably never have given them any money otherwise, because I thought I didn't like Dual Stick Shooters before.

      In other words, download the app!

    • http://twitter.com/A_DeSilva Andrew DeSilva

      Leave a 5 star review and check out some of their other games. Those reviews help the devs more than you may think!

    • http://rekzkarz.com/ REkzkaRZ

      Simple way to avoid your guilt -- note the game, then pay for it the next day. I will easily go guilt-free, tho. (No one's forcing the Dev's to go free, are they? This is (the real definition of) fan service!!!)

  • moonwax

    Sounds great. It will be interesting to see if TA can get any AAA titles exclusively free or if it will just be highlighting the best free games that are publicly available.

    Bring on the games!

  • Jeffrey Steiger

    Awesome!

  • JossX1

    Look good but can I except games like modern combat 4 or 3 ? or Horn ?

    • http://rekzkarz.com/ REkzkaRZ

      You can except 'em.
      Doubt you can expect 'em
      (esp Horn since there's a Horn Lite)

  • moonwax

    First TA Free Play title looks to be Aralon: Sword and Shadow HD. Not a bad start.

  • Tim Cant

    I won't play shit now unless the dev personally sends me 69p and puts my face in the game

    • dariusjr98

      Shut up.

      • Tim Cant

        I will NOT shut up! Put my face in a game

      • http://twitter.com/Rirath Rirath

        Well, *I* thought it was funny.

  • sakara214ever

    Aralon Sword and Shadow is the first free game by Toucarcade freeplay. But. It has inaps up to 99.99$. Never played the game are these iaps necessary? Cause there is no way in earth iam paying that much money to play a game. Anyways thanks for the great update and great news Toucharcade. Always a big fan.

    • http://www.facebook.com/JonDavidMorris Jonathan Morris

      In no way necessary at all. Only for the Cheater mcCheaty Cheats out there who don't like actually playing through video games.

      • makitango

        In the old days, cheats were just cheats. Now they are IAPs and most of the time, games are balanced around that. ;(

      • http://rekzkarz.com/ REkzkaRZ

        Whoa, easy on the name calling buddy. (J/K)

  • jindofox

    I sure hope that each and every review in this feature will contain a detailed description of "the catch" in each free title. There have been so many greedy in-app-purchase cash grabs among free games that I have learned to just leave them along and pay to play better games. I know that there are plenty of exceptions and I trust you guys to help us make that call.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tim-Lord-Gek-Jordan/1559737263 Tim Lord Gek Jordan

      Exactly what I was thinking! A game containing IAPs in itself is nothing untoward, but if clearly a game based on a currency model with a majority of its purchases requiring an IAP or a YEAR STRAIGHT OF SOLID GRINDING, it would be nice to know.

    • http://rekzkarz.com/ REkzkaRZ

      Are you guys talking about "Scifi Heroes", or what?
      That game might've been fun, but IAP killed it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/JonDavidMorris Jonathan Morris

    Amazing, fantastic thing. My brain is on overload, and the only cure is more TouchArcade cowbell.

  • ndre

    Nice! Just a thought... If a game is good and throws in a few (unnecessary) IAPs to monetize a little of its new popularity due to the promotion, I wouldn't rule it out.

  • jptsetung

    Thank you toucharacade. As a developer and as a player, I *really* *really* *really* *really* *really* *really* like this move.

  • http://twitter.com/TomBombadil25 Andrast

    Awesome! Thanks TA! You guys always do a good job of notifying us when good games go free. Have you thought about adding a separate push notification to your app for just Free Play announcements? That would be really great.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000018577803 Scrab Frag

    Sounds great, even better if you can focus on developers that try to do things right with Universal Apps with no adverts and most importantly no IAP...

  • http://twitter.com/Rirath Rirath

    Well, awesome. Thank you.

  • curtisrshideler

    Great idea! Looking forward to more. Thanks guys.

  • digitalphil

    Thank you TA and Crescent moon!!!!!! When's Ravensword 2 coming out!

    Posted from Touch Arcade app.

  • Karzay

    Seems like an odd decision to preach that people should pay a decent price for a game, then turn around and promote games going free, essentially encouraging them to go free, but whatever. Supporting both developers and players is a fine line to walk.

    • http://twitter.com/pvflats Paul F

      From what I understand (as the article briefly mentions) the "free app" websites charge developers a significant chunk of change to be featured as their free game. It seems like TA is doing both developers and players a solid by letting a developer get a well-reviewed game featured without having to pay any money upfront. Plus, for the developer, this audience is probably slightly less skeevy than the free app a day audience.

      My first thoughts were also pretty skeptical, but I think Eli et al. are doing a fantastic job of walking the line.

      • Karzay

        How much is this helping, really? There's mainly two reasons an app goes free, it's either on it's last leg or it's used to promote future games by the studio. What are the statistics for how many games become successful after going free?

        I think instead of encouraging great games to go free, TA should do a better job of promoting their "5 star" games. At the moment, all they have is a tag link buried somewhere in their crazy double sidebar and an occasional post promoting the best games of the month.

        Wouldn't it be better to either create a page dedicated to 5 star games in the navigation bar or a spot under the site banner promoting random 5 star games?

        I just wonder how much is this is helping and how much is this just to create more content for their blog? TA is slowly becoming CNN of game app reviews. They seem to becoming more concerned with providing content for their site than the the quality of the information they are providing.

        I could be wrong, but I see a trend forming. They could be smarter about promoting games.

      • http://rekzkarz.com/ REkzkaRZ

        While you're saying "encouraging games to go free" is probably inaccurate. If a small dev drops their price for 1 day to free, this would be called PROMOTION at zero cost to them OTHER than lost revenue from whatever downloads go out.
        If the freeloaders (as one might call them) post good reviews or recommend the game on FB or whatever, the devs have just paid $0 to boost their community of supporters & get positive community.
        If you think how much $ goes out in ad promotion -- making ads that so many of us don't really want to see -- it's hard to see this as a loser.
        This is a WIN WIN!
        (And I'm all for *never* seeing ads again!)

      • Karzay

        That's certainly a possibility, but can it really be called "free promotion" if they are paying for it with loss revenue? How much do we really respect freeloader's opinions and pay attention to what they like to promote on FB?

        How much does going free help? I have yet to read any stats that favorably support this marketing technique or read an article about how going free for a few days made a game a huge success. This is a desperate, last ditch effort to generate cash.

        I just think there are better ways to promote a game and TA shouldn't encourage loss of revenue and cater to the players who are only looking to spend next to nothing for a great game. If a positive reviews on TA didn't work the first time, how much more will this really help?

        After this article, I really don't want to hear TA make fun of their readership being cheap and complaining about prices on their podcast. They are encouraging it.

  • http://twitter.com/VULTR3 Mike

    I like it. Sounds like a legit system of free games, unlike all the other fappaday apps you see out there.

  • efforting

    Instead of becoming the solution, toucharcade is just aiding the race to the bottom on pricing. Developers of quality games shouldn't feel pressured by the number one mobile gaming site to undercut themselves. If anything you should be promoting the push up not down. Tiered pricing and he death of IAP should be the goal.
    How about instead of free, having the developer raise their prices for a day to what toucharcade actually thinks the game is worth and on your recommendation I'll buy it. 
    If free the IAP should include an option to support developer without changing the game dynamics.

    • http://rekzkarz.com/ REkzkaRZ

      Not sure for certain (I'm not a Dev), but seems like with digital distribution + small indie games, the price point isn't horrible *IF* they can move a lot of copies of their product.
      So this could be a win/win --> free day improves chart position, great games get exposure & move more units, dev's can make more or enhance, etc.
      While I see your point on "race to the bottom" when you look at $150 MS Office and $600 to $1200 Adobe CS (version whatever / package/bundles whatever) and $2k for an AVID & so on, or just looking at $60 games for boxes ...
      BUT
      That business model blows for indie devs AND game system makers -- they both want quicker game dev turn-around, less packaging (most boxes add little to value but a lot to price), and *more better games*. And the digital distribution model drops the price point b/c it removes middle tier markups.
      Perhaps we can take it back to supply & demand --> when demand is high AND supply is high, the price will drop. But with the older model, wasn't it interesting that the price 'hung' at $60 for new games? Why? Because the model was insulated from supply/demand by artificial limitation.
      (And now back to my 'hot button' topic -- pricing which doesn't reflect value leads to copying, which some propagandistically call piracy. But reasonable pricing inevitably discourages copying -- is it REALLY worth 5-10 hrs of cracking sofware for a $1 or $2 app?)
      'nuff said.

  • Ponycakes

    You guys consistently earn the place of "Best Source for Everything iOS Gaming Related."

    Thank you.

  • Gamer_Kev

    Great idea. I'll be keeping an eye out for them. I've recently deleted most of the 'free games' apps from my iPad due to running into too many Freemium scams (mind you, I'm not saying all freemium titles are scams) and they were starting to seem superfluous. Glad to see a free app alert that intends to avoid that kind of thing.

  • tj price

    Hey Guys Thanks this is Awesome!

    You should work on making Junk Jack (2.99) by Pixbits free for a day!
    I'm really into minecraft and a similar 2d game like this looks pretty neat and it's never gone free yet.
    Gotta love TouchArcade!

    • efforting

      You like those types of games.
      It's a great game.
      It's $3.
      What's your problem?
      You can't afford $3?!
      Really!?
      You want developers to work for free?
      Have you no shame? Get a job and you will appreciate what things are worth.

      • http://rekzkarz.com/ REkzkaRZ

        How can they have an iOS device w/o having some $$$ income? Gift maybe?
        "Get a job" is a weak-sauce insult in a soft economy. Why don't you hire tj price? HA!
        "Have you no shame" isn't quite as bad, except that you ripped on a person that was putting their vote in for a game for TA to promote in this new 'TA free play' idea.

        So you're probably equally deserving of an insult, but more creative, say ... 'you are assembled from weak-sauce'.

        What's wrong with voting for a $1 or $2 game if it's really good & TA comunity would *JUMP* on it?

        For that matter, I suggest DUNGEONRAID, a freakin' amazing game (which I bought) and no one will ever be upset if they get that game for free OR pay $3 for it. It's *awesome*.

  • armilla

    Thanks TA for implementing this program! I'm really looking forward to it.

  • Ariectus

    Any new TAFreeplay stuff happening or is that done with? Just wondering =]

  • Free Games

    Thank you so much. Really loved the game.

    http://www.freeappsstore.in