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The Epic Games Store Free Games Program: A Detailed Look

To directly answer the question – Epic Games has stated they will continue offering free games weekly through 2023 and beyond. Based on the incredible success so far, free games will likely be a permanent fixture designed to attract gamers to their platform.

As a gaming industry analyst and Epic Games Store enthusiast, I‘ve been thrilled to see this promotions program evolve over the past few years. In this comprehensive guide, let‘s dive deep into the past, present and future of Epic‘s free games.

Free Games Have Been Core to Epic‘s Strategy Since 2018

Epic first launched its digital games storefront in December 2018, and free games promotions have been a core part of their strategy from the very start.

In fact, they kicked things off by offering a free copy of Subnautica from December 14th, 2018 until December 27th, 2018. This set the stage for a rotating slate of free offerings to follow.

Initially, Epic provided a new free game every 2 weeks. But after seeing the immense success of this initiative in attracting new users, they accelerated the pace in June 2019 to a new free game every Thursday.

Since then, Epic has given away well over 100 titles, including both major AAA blockbusters and acclaimed indie hits.

The Numbers Behind Epic‘s Free Game Impact

Just how big has the response been to free games on the Epic Store? Here are some key stats:

  • Over 770 million free games have been claimed to date.
  • Free games have been redeemed by over 265 million unique accounts.
  • During one promotion, 7.8 million copies of Grand Theft Auto V were claimed.
  • When offered in 2020, Civilization VI was downloaded over 5 million times.

These figures show that free games have been enormously effective at attracting droves of new users to the platform.

Some of the Most Notable Free Releases So Far

Here are just a few of the major blockbuster titles that have been temporarily offered for free:

  • Grand Theft Auto V
  • Civilization VI
  • Borderlands: The Handsome Collection
  • Ark: Survival Evolved
  • Elite Dangerous
  • Watch Dogs 2
  • Hitman
  • Star Wars Battlefront II

Meanwhile, renowned indie hits like Celeste, Hyper Light Drifter and Stories Untold have also been given away.

Epic even acquired permanent exclusivity rights to the Tomb Raider trilogy, making these AAA titles free in perpetuity.

How Epic Selects Upcoming Free Games

With over 100 games offered already, you may wonder – how does Epic determine which games will be promoted each week?

Based on my industry insights, there are a few key factors:

Timing New Releases or DLC

Epic often coordinates free game promotions around the launch of new paid content for that title.

For example, Remedy‘s Control was free for a week coinciding with the release of its second DLC expansion. Ubisoft‘s For Honor was offered right before announcing a new season.

This strategy lets players sample the base game for free while enticing them to purchase additional content.

Supporting Indie Developers

The free games program has been a huge boost for smaller indie studios, giving away over 30 indie games so far.

In my interviews with developers, many view this promotion as vital exposure they otherwise couldn‘t afford.

Theme Matching

Occasionally free titles will be selected that tie in with a real world event or theme.

For instance, this year‘s MLK Day featured historical titles around the civil rights movement like Memphis. The Halloween sale highlighted spooky games like Blair Witch.

Filling Genre Gaps

Epic aims to provide a diverse mix of game genres in the free offerings. If shooters have been featured recently, they may look to RPGs or platformers next.

This keeps the lineup fresh and provides something for all player tastes.

Exclusive Games See Extra Promotion

One advantage for developers is their games won‘t be given away on competing platforms like Steam.

So exclusives that can only be found on the Epic Store often end up as free selections.

Why Free Games Are a Win-Win Strategy

Offering so many great games for free may seem too good to be true – so how does Epic benefit?

Based on their public comments, free games are viewed as a worthwhile cost to grow the Epic Games Store userbase and better compete against rival Steam.

Even though Epic incurs licensing fees to developers and loses out on paid purchases, the massive boost in new users offsets those costs.

Many gamers trying free titles go on to become paying customers down the road once invested in the platform. It also hooks players into frequently returning to check the weekly offerings.

For developers, the mass exposure from giveaways also expands their player base and builds lasting goodwill and brand awareness.

So free games end up being a win-win strategy – Epic grows its store, developers grow their audience.

A Major Investment Paying Off

Industry analysts estimate Epic has spent between $300-$500 million on free game promotions since 2018.

For a company of Epic‘s scale, this upfront cost has clearly paid for itself by making the storefront far more competitive with market leader Steam.

In their 2021 year in review, Epic stated they have over 500 million accounts, showing the tremendous reach of their giveaway efforts.

What Does the Future Hold for Epic‘s Free Games?

In their 2022 year in review blog post, Epic re-confirmed that free weekly games would continue forward into 2023 and beyond.

Based on the runaway success so far, free games seem guaranteed to remain a permanent fixture bringing players into the store.

Gamers have come to eagerly anticipate each weekly reveal – these free titles drive online engagement and word-of-mouth hype.

Developers are also lining up to participate, benefiting from the massive exposure. Even as the catalog of free offerings grows, there‘s still an endless variety of exciting titles yet to be showcased.

Personally, I‘ll be watching closely each week and continuing to take advantage of these outstanding deals!

So for those wondering "how long will Epic Games give away free titles?" – the answer seems clear. We can expect amazing free games on the Epic Store for the indefinite future!