This Week's Waste of Time
Am I running out of free browser games yet?
By James Renovitch, 6:43PM, Thu. Aug. 16, 2012
Somebody asked me recently if it's harder or easier to find free browser games than it was when I started this column a few years ago. Of course there are still scads of free games scattered throughout the Web there do seem to be fewer interesting titles than before. But luckily for you, I found one for you to play during your down time.
It seemed only a few years ago that indie developers would put their games online for free, and, if they got some blog buzz, they would port the game to a mobile device for a few dollars a piece and recoup some if not all of their investment. At the time the App Store had yet to be flooded with free and 99 cent games, so you could submit a game to Apple and assume that there weren't already tons of games like it. Local developer Adam Saltsman did this with his online games Canabalt and Gravity Hook that rightfully got a lot of buzz for their simplicity and addictiveness when they first appeared as Flash games. Both games' one-button controls were perfect for the iPhone and went on to sell enough copies in the App Store to keep Saltsman more than afloat until his next project was complete.
More recently Vlambeer created Radical Fishing and posted it online. The game was a silly take on the pastime in which the player caught lots of exotic fish, tossed them into the sky, and blew them away with a shotgun. The Vlambeer team was in the process of updated the game's looks and mechanics when another developer stole their idea and posted Ninja Fishing to the App Store before Vlambeer could get their title up. You can read more about Vlambeer's appearance at Fantastic Arcade where they talked about these issues here. Needless to say, the whole experience made many developers more hesitant to put their games out there for free lest someone with looser morals clone their idea for profit.
Going the opposite way is Tom Sennett, whose game Deepak Fights Robots was released for PCs a few months back with a low price and got some blog traction that has naturally slipped a bit since. That's the way the fickle Internet works. Possibly as a way to get players interested in his game, Sennett made the game free to play a few days ago. The free version is not quite as robust as the earlier game, but Deepak Fights Robots' low-fi charm and surprising platforming acumen still shines through.