GameTap will be requiring gamers to upgrade to a Gold membership to gain access to a number of games it has been offering for free for the last year, including classic titles like Deus Ex and Psychonauts.
Starting January 22, the online gaming service will "return a large chunk of our free games back to the Gold vault. They will still be available, but only to GameTap Gold subscribers." Users could previously sign up for a free GameTap account to access these games, providing a convenient and, moreover, legal way to play a large number of classic titles like the original Fallout. A GameTap Gold subscription costs $59.95 for an entire year or $9.95 a month.
Why shut down one of the best and most well-known features of the arguably ailing service? Possibly belt-tightening for rocky economic times, but GameTap's saying it's all part of the plan. "As many of you know, over the past year or so we've released well over one hundred games for free, in order to entice people to sample what GameTap has to offer and, hopefully, subsrcibe to our service," GameTap announced on its blog. "The strategy has worked incredibly well for us, and now we're ready to move on."
GameTap will still offer some free content, including the 40 free games that aren't going into the "Gold Vault." They'll also start offering "weekly samplers" in the form of full games that will be free for a week at a time. Planned weekly samplers for the near future include X-Com: UFO Defense, Garou: Mark of the Wolves, and Sid Meier's Pirates!, with some of the soon-to-be-previously-free games scheduled as well.
I played Deus Ex for the first time thanks to GameTap's free games service. Seeing it go, I can only think of what J.C. Denton himself would have said in a similar situation: "What a shame..."
View the whole list of removed games here.