UnReal World Arrives On Steam With Added Price Tag

The RPS Hivemind has elaborated all data, simulated all scenarios, accounted for every variation, and the result is clear: your best next move is to play UnReal World [official site]. At first the Hivemind was gentle and subtle in its recommendation. Back in 2013, Alec let you know when it became free, hoping you’d catch the drift. Then Adam was more explicit in his “Have You Played.” But even that wasn’t enough, so the hivemind used numbers. Surely you’d bow to numbers. UnReal World is objectively the 26th best free game on PC, and also the 26th best RPG on PC. Do you see a pattern here?

But you still didn’t listen. Yes, you. You who said you’d only play UnReal World if it were on Steam. Now it is, but your Steamy demands will cost you.

UnReal World is a roguelike RPG about surviving in the wilderness that has been in development since 1992 and still receives frequent updates. At this point it’s become a cult classic, thanks to its atmosphere and the incredible depth of its systems.

The elephant in the room here is that the game is, and will remain, free if you grab it from the official website, but the identical Steam release is not free. It’s £6.79 on Steam with the launch discount, going up to £7.99 later. Although if you have donated to the devs before for lifetime membership, you will receive a Steam key.

I don’t know if adding a price tag on Steam is unfair, but it is odd. The game’s big and polished and will continue to be updated, so it’s certainly worth the price, but I can see a few impulsive buyers feeling cheated. Then again, I also know many people who wouldn’t play a game, no matter how good, if it’s not on Steam. The Steam release will also eventually see achievements, trading cards and cloud saving added to it, features that the standalone will not offer. And hey, it is still free elsewhere.

How do you feel about it?

(I was thinking… this game is as old as I am. Creepy.)


  1. quietone says:

    I’ve been playing this game for years, and I would not mind to pay to have it on steam. It is simply the best survival game I’ve ever played. I swear I am not one of the devs!
    But yeah, seriously. Rocks.

  2. Sin Vega says:

    Unreal World will devour your life. It was the only good survival game before survival games became fashionable, and it’s still the best one. Also one of very few roguelikes I can stand (although only by occasionally cheating by backing up a saved character. I’m not sorry).

    • Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

      How is your garden of bandit corpses doing?

      • Sin Vega says:

        It was getting too big, and since I had a massive stockpile of seeds (the nearby villages weren’t selling anything else, and they keep, so what the hell) I converted them to fertiliser through the liberal application of fire. They’re sprouting too! Another month or two and I should find out what it is that I’m growing.

  3. Pantalaimon says:

    Given that the game was available for pittance, and has since been free for years (and still is), it’s more than fair to enable people to pay for the game if they would like to. Donationware is a wonderful thing that doesn’t happen as often as it should anymore.

    It is no exaggeration to say UrW is one of the best games ever made, and creates some fantastic adventure stories.
    The controls and systems do take a bit of learning, even for the roguelike crowd, but it’s more than worth it (and I highly recommend the game to developers for this reason alone – put some of these mechanics in your games!).

    • Pantalaimon says:

      (and no, even if people paid for it unawares they could play it for free, they’re getting a game they can spend 1000s of hours in and not run out of things to do. If they feel cheated after that, that’s just a knock on them.)

    • anHorse says:

      I like this model, especially for Roguelikes. I’ve actually bought TOME which uses this model twice so it certainly helped them.

  4. JB says:

    UrW really is lovely. I’ve been playing it for years too, I’ve paid for it in the past and I’ll be buying it on Steam shortly. The small amount of contact I’ve had with the devs showed them to be good people, I’m happy to pay the little I can for their hard work.

  5. Lucifer says:

    Big Papa Gaben doesn’t let you put games on Steam, if he can’t make any money off of it. It was charge for it, or add in DLC.

    • AngoraFish says:

      There are literally hundreds of games on Steam that are completely free, and that have neither DLC nor microtransactions (see, for example, visual novels). Have a look some time.

      • thebigJ_A says:

        Actually checking could prove one wrong and violate confirmation bias

        That’s not how you Internet

      • phobosad says:

        TrackMania Nations Forever is a good example of a pretty great game that is completely free.

  6. Baines says:

    Borderless Gaming is a utility in a similar situation. It is free to download from its own website, but costs $4 for the Steam version. This is not intentionally hidden, as the Steam store page outright says that it is available for free on Github. It even goes a step further by having a $10 “Donation” DLC that openly says that it adds nothing at all to the program, existing entirely as a method of donating more money to the project.

  7. Shiloh says:

    I paid for a lifetime membership a while ago because a) this is a great game and b) Sami and Erkka deserve to be paid for the enjoyment I’ve had (and continue to have) from this game.

    Buying it on Steam looks like a sort of halfway house between full membership and playing it for free – so it seems OK to me. And I’m sure many more people will now hear about it than would have if Enormous Elk had continued to sell it from their website and nowhere else.

  8. malkav11 says:

    Unreal World cost money for many years – and quite a lot more than is being asked for the Steam version now, at least if you wanted access to all future updates. So having a free download available (that they even link on the store page, IIRC) and charging a small amount for the Steam version seems more than fair to me.

    It’s not unprecedented, either. ToME is and remains free, but if you donated you got a handful of benefits. The Steam version is basically the donation version and if you’d donated, you got a free Steam key. (I assume this still works but I have no idea since I had already donated when it hit Steam.)

    I picked the Steam version of Unreal World up and one of these days maybe I’ll even play it.

  9. Greggh says:

    Considering I actually HACKED this game to play it fully back then (I had no means of international purchases), spending less than a couple of good beers on it and helping the devs seem like great karma.

    As folks already mentioned, URW is one of the best (if not THE best) survival games ever.

  10. Pantalaimon says:

    Most of the memorable adventures I’ve had in UrW have ended in disaster (okay, ALL of the adventures eventually go this way).

    For example, the time when I was starving to the point of exhaustion, and crawling around on all-fours searching for a source of nourishment. In desperation I chased a squirrel up a tree. After a long period of flailing wildy I managed to knock it down. I was in the process of attempting to butcher it when I blacked out from stomach pain. I think it was caused by eating rotted meat I found in a trap. When I woke up, the squirrel was gone, and I promptly died.

    What I learnt:
    – food is life
    – rotted meat is not food, but you can eat it
    – squirrel is food, but you can’t eat it

  11. rexx.sabotage says:

    Well better than the schlock piece on Kotaku anyways :P

    but yeah, it’s says on the store page than you can still play for free and really the Steam release is a fanservice the devs reluctantly conceded too. A tiny iota of research would have shown you that the Devs are decent people and not trying to pull one over to make a quick Steambuck. to be fair, I guess facts don’t get as many clicks as sensationalist speculation…

    • hernique says:

      I don’t feel it’s “sensationalist”, it’s an honest concern that some (not well-researched or even smart) people could feel cheated for buying it on an impulse, without even reading or googling it. I don’t think this article has ever questioned the devs ethics or anything, maybe you’re reading too much into it?

      • rexx.sabotage says:

        the implications are in the perception. again, if there were any amount of investigation beyond knee-jerk reactions the author would have little proclivity to cast doubt.

        and for the concern of the lowest common denominator: they always have Steam refund.

        • Sin Vega says:

          If you’re writing an article about a game, it doesn’t matter how well you know that the devs are reputable. You have to think about the experience and concerns of other people, some of whom may indeed feel put out by paying for a game if they later find out it was possible to get it for free.

          That the devs are honest doesn’t change the fact that they’re selling something in one place and giving it away in another. That’s kind of odd, and whether it’s ok is debatable, and that bears mentioning in a post about it. Whatever my opinion of it, it’d be absurdly egocentric to assume that just because I don’t mind, nobody else will.

          • Suriel says:

            You can actually READ that there is a free version and they even supply the link on the STEAM site.
            So if you don’t read the description, and blindly buy it, it is your own fault.

  12. TobleroneRoloCombo says:

    It’s two years older than me, but nonetheless, I still feel old.

  13. StevenP says:

    It’s the same with Tales of Maj’Eyal, you can also get it for free or pay for it on Steam.

    Personally I think that’s fine, I don’t mind paying a few bucks for such great games and I like the added convenience.