You probably don’t need any further encouragement to play video games at the moment. If you live in a part of the world that’s currently covered by a full or partial lockdown – which accounts for most of the planet – there really isn’t much to do other than play video games to pass the time in the evenings. If you can’t do your normal job at the moment either, it might be the only thing you have to do all day. In recognition of this fact, several video game companies are coming together to launch a ‘Stay At Home And Play’ movement.
Although the movement doesn’t have any individual spearhead or an official leader, the hashtag has been used by a number of companies in an attempt to communicate to players – especially younger players – that they should stick to their video games instead of going outside and disregarding safety advice. The World Health Organization is concerned that young people are more likely to break curfews and lockdown conditions than their parents or grandparents, and it’s hoped that by encouraging them to play video games (which will be a first for many of them!), they might be content to pick up a controller rather than being tempted to open the front door and see what’s beyond it.
Some of the bigger companies have gone a step further than just encouraging people to stay home – they’re offering players incentives to do so. One of those companies is Square Enix, who are known to millions as the custodians and developers of the ‘Tomb Raider’ series of video games. At the time of writing, if you’re stuck for something to do and you’ve always fancied giving the more recent ‘Tomb Raider’ games a try, you’ll never get a better chance to do so. The 2013 version of ‘Tomb Raider’ – the first one to be made for current-gen consoles and the game that started the path that led to ‘Shadow of the Tomb Raider’ – can be downloaded free of charge from Steam.
If one ‘Tomb Raider’ game isn’t enough for you, then how about two? The slightly more cartoonish ‘Lara Croft And The Temple of Osiris’ is also available free of charge, and offers online play for those who’d rather enjoy a co-operative tomb raiding session than a solo one. This game was a big influence on the hugely popular ‘Lara Croft: Temples and Tombs’ attraction that became a big hit at online slots websites recently. There are a couple more ‘Tomb Raider’ and Lara Croft-themed PayPal casino available at most major websites if such things appeal to you. They’re unlikely to meet the WHO’s approval when it comes to keeping young people at home, though. The online slots can only be accessed and played by adults. The other two titles we’ve mentioned are available to everybody – and you can’t get a better deal than being able to pick the games up free of charge!
While what Square Enix is doing is commendable, we shouldn’t single them out for praise. Other companies are getting in on the act and offering extensive rewards for players – including the company responsible for one of the biggest gaming franchises in history both on and offline. Blizzard has announced that for as long as quarantine, social distancing, and lockdown conditions persist, double experience points will be available for anybody playing ‘World of Warcraft’ games. If you’ve been trying to level up your characters for a while, but you’ve been put off by the thought of a long, hard slog to do so, you’ve just been handed a shortcut. If it’s been a while since you’ve logged in to ‘World of Warcraft,’ why not take this opportunity to do so and find out what you might have been missing out on? The ‘buff’ is labeled in-game as ‘Winds of Wisdom,’ and will remain valid until at least April 20th.
The Epic Games store has also been making selected titles available for free recently. The situation is constantly under review, but at the time you’re reading this, you should find that you can currently download and play ‘Headsnatchers,’ ‘Watch Dogs,’ Deiland,’ and ‘Drawful 2’ free of charge. It’s likely that all of the companies involved will be watching participation and popularity figures closely to inform their decisions of whether to make any more titles available for free in the coming weeks – so if the thought of getting free games to play while you’re bored appeals to you, make sure you’re downloading the games even if you only go on to play them a couple of times! That being said, if you get a free copy of 2013’s ‘Tomb Raider’ and manage to walk away from it after only a couple of games without becoming addicted, you’re doing a lot better than us.
We’ll likely see more of this in the days and weeks to come. Microsoft has recently decided to make some ‘educational’ versions of ‘Minecraft’ available to young players after schools around the world closed down. The games even come with home lesson plans. None of the larger development studios will want to look out of touch, and so if there’s mass engagement with the sudden surge of freeware that’s been created by rival companies, we’ll almost certainly see some other well-known titles released into the wild very soon. The commercial value of games released more than five years ago is, for the main part, very low. Nobody wants to buy those old games anymore. The value of the free publicity that comes with being recognized for giving games away, though, is very high. Not only is providing entertainment for free a kind thing to do, but it’s also a smart thing to do for any company seeking free and favorable advertising.
Nobody knows how long the current situation might carry on for. Hopefully, it won’t be as long as some people fear it might be. In the meantime, take your mind off it by taking advantage of this spate of generosity from video game production companies. It may never come around again!