I know you just got an Xbox Series S and are wondering how to download games without spending any extra money. Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered!
Even though the Series S doesn’t use discs, there are tons of ways to install and play free games. I’ll walk you through all the options, with tips to build a killer game library at no cost. Stick with me and you’ll be a pro at playing free games on your Series S!
Over 100 Free-to-Play Games Available
The easiest way to jump into gaming on your Series S is to take advantage of free-to-play (F2P) games. As the name suggests, these are games that are completely free to download and play as much as you want!
According to Microsoft, over 100 F2P games are available on Xbox, spanning various genres from battle royales to MMORPGs.
Popular free titles include:
Fortnite – The insanely popular battle royale shooter with cartoony graphics and 100-player matches. Over 350 million players as of May 2020 according to Epic Games.
Call of Duty: Warzone – Activision‘s polished first-person shooter take on battle royale, with two game modes to choose between. Over 100 million players in its first year based on Activision data.
Apex Legends – A squad-based battle royale with unique playable characters called Legends, each with their own skills. According to EA it hit over 100 million players by 2021.
Destiny 2 – An MMORPG-style loot shooter, with a mix of PvE missions and PvP modes. Developer Bungie reported over 10 million monthly players in 2019.
World of Tanks – Teambased tank battles featuring an impressive roster of over 650 armored vehicles from different eras. Reports over 160 million registered players worldwide per Wargaming.
Here’s a quick step-by-step guide to find and download F2P games on your Series S:
Go to the Xbox Store app on your Series S.
Select the "Free to play" category.
Browse for a game that looks interesting and select it.
Choose "Install on my devices" to download it directly to your Series S.
Easy right? The game will now begin downloading to your console‘s super fast internal SSD storage. Once complete, you can launch and play it as much as you want indefinitely without any restrictions or paywalls. F2P games also receive frequent updates too, so there‘s always something new happening.
Try Before You Buy with Free Game Trials
Another sweet way to play games for free is to take advantage of the limited-time trials many paid games offer.
These free trials give you access to about 1-2 hours of gameplay to try before you buy. You can experience a nice chunk of the game for zero cost. Progress also carries over if you decide to purchase the full game later.
According to Microsoft, over 100 titles on Xbox offer free trials. This includes major new releases like Madden NFL, FIFA, and NHL.
Here are some tips for finding and playing free game trials on your Xbox Series S:
Check the product details – If a free trial is available, you‘ll see a "Free trial" button on the game‘s store page.
Search using "trial" – Type in keywords like "free trial" or just "trial" in the Xbox store search bar to find eligible games.
Don‘t forget to check demos – Sometimes trials are listed under the demos category rather than the full game listing.
Sort store by price – You can sort search results to show free items first, making trials much easier to find.
Set a timer when you start playing – Trials are usually pretty short, so set a timer to avoid getting cut off unexpectedly.
Major games like Madden and FIFA often have new free trial versions published each year that let you check out the latest installment risk-free. If you enjoy the trial experience, your progress seamlessly transfers over when you decide to buy the full game.
Play Full Games for Free on Special Weekends
Okay, now things get even better. Xbox Live Gold members get access to select full games for an entire weekend multiple times per month!
It’s called Free Play Days. During these promotional periods, you can download and play full games free, not just trials. According to the Xbox Wire blog, Free Play Days happen a few times monthly, usually starting on Thursday and running until Sunday.
Here are some insider tips to make the most of Free Play Days:
Wish list eligible games when announced – Then they’re easy to find when the promo starts.
Download ahead of time – Pre-install free games so you’re ready to play immediately when the event begins.
Coordinate with friends – Free access makes it easy for you and your buddies to all download and play together.
Watch for purchase discounts – Xbox often offers 20% off if you buy the game during or after Free Play Days.
Free Play Day titles are usually major releases that you’d otherwise have to pay full-price for. It’s an amazing chance to try out the hottest new games before buying.
Grow Your Library with Monthly Games with Gold
Now, as an Xbox Live Gold member you get access to free games every month through the Games with Gold program.
Here’s how it works – with a paid Gold membership you can claim and download 4 free games each month, two from Xbox One and two from Xbox 360. The games rotate monthly but once claimed they are yours to keep and play as long as you stay a Gold member.
According to the official Xbox website, since Games with Gold started in 2013 members have received over $1,000 in free games!
Based on a breakdown from TrueAchievements, the free monthly games usually include:
- 1 Newer major release (last 2 years)
- 1 Slightly older popular game
- 1 Backward compatible Xbox 360 game
- 1 Family friendly or indie Xbox 360 game
Here are some tips to ensure you never miss out on getting your free monthly games:
Mark your calendar – New Games with Gold go live on the 1st and 16th of each month. Set reminders!
Claim through the mobile app – You can add the games to your account even if you don’t download to your console right away.
Don’t forget the Xbox 360 games – You can play these on your Series S via backward compatibility.
Follow Xbox on social media – They reveal the upcoming free lineup ahead of time.
Adding up all the free monthly games totals up to over 50+ free titles per year! Games with Gold is hands down one of the best perks of Xbox Live Gold membership.
Get 100+ Games for Just $1 with Xbox Game Pass!
Okay, Game Pass isn‘t technically free. But here’s an amazing deal – new Xbox Game Pass members can get their first month of unlimited access to over 100 games for just $1!
After a buck for the first month, you pay the regular $9.99 monthly fee. But that initial $1 lets you download and play over 100 games for an entire month. According to the Xbox website, there are over 400 games available as of January 2023, with new titles added all the time.
Here are some tips to maximize your $1 Game Pass trial:
Go for Game Pass Ultimate instead – It includes Game Pass for both Xbox and PC gaming for the same $1 intro offer.
Cancel before auto-renewal if you don’t want to continue – So you avoid getting charged the full $9.99 after your first month.
Download any games you’re interested in ASAP – You only have 1 month to play over 100 games for just $1!
Get friends in on the deal too – You can play online together during the trial since you’ll all have access.
For the cost of a candy bar you get your pick of tons of great games for a month. It’s an insane value – basically getting to try out an entire game library for free!
Even More Ways to Score Free Games
There are always chances for scoring extra free games beyond the main options we covered. Here are a few more tricks:
Check for giveaways on social media – Game studios will sometimes offer free codes for fans on Twitter or Facebook.
Enter contests like those from Mountain Dew and Doritos – Prizes are often free game codes or even consoles!
Join Xbox gaming forums – Players will kindly share spare codes from bundle purchases and such.
Participate in Xbox Rewards – You can earn points from game purchases and daily play that eventually redeem for gift cards or free game codes.
It takes some effort and luck, but you can potentially grab quite a few extra freebies here and there through giveaways and rewards programs.
Best Free Genres for Longevity and Replay Value
Now when choosing which free games to play, some genres will get you more bang for your buck in terms of longevity and replay value.
For multiplayer fans, free-to-play shooters like battle royales and team-based Arena games are your best bet. Matches play out differently every time, and unlocking items keeps things feeling fresh. According to an Apex Legends infographic, players rack up an average of 6 hours per week!
Based on analysis by Forbes, here are some top free genre recommendations for getting the most long-term enjoyment:
Battle Royale – The huge lobbies and repeat play of games like Fortnite or Apex Legends make them perfect for playing for free.
MOBA – Competitive 5v5 battles in games like SMITE or League of Legends offer tremendous replay value for strategizing new approaches.
MMORPG – Massively multiplayer RPGs like Neverwinter have near endless progression chasing loot and exploring huge worlds.
Racing – Local splitscreen multiplayer in free racers like Asphalt 9: Legends amplifies fun when playing with friends.
Fighting – Mastering intricate fighting game systems in titles like Killer Instinct provides limitless room for growth.
For singleplayer fans, narrative adventures and puzzle games might not have as much replay value. But they counter with delivering deep stories and brain-teasing challenges for 5-10+ hour experiences.
And don’t forget about sports! Free trials for new Madden and FIFA games let you level up skills against friends for hours on end.
Optimizing Storage for All Your Free Games
Now, storage space is definitely something to keep in mind with the Xbox Series S since it’s all-digital. But no worries, I’ve got some great tips to optimize your storage for all the awesome free games we’ve covered:
Invest in an external USB hard drive – You can store next-gen games externally and play them directly from the drive. A 2TB external HDD can be found for under $60!
Uninstall unused games – Save space by removing any games you aren’t actively playing from your SSD. They are still in your library for quick redownload.
Disable high-res textures – Many games have optional high-resolution texture DLC packs that eat up space. Disable ones you don’t need.
Remove unused language packs – Most games install voice audio for multiple languages. Delete ones you won’t use to trim size.
Clear your capture gallery – If running really low on SSD space, clear out old screenshots and gameplay clips you don’t need.
Get the 1TB expansion card – For max storage, Seagate’s 1TB expansion card doubles capacity seamlessly. It might be $220, but you’ll be set for space!
The Series S comes with 512GB of speedy internal SSD storage. But adding external drives and the 1TB expansion card gives you all the room needed to build a massive library of free games!
Recommended Must-Play Free Games
Looking for suggestions on where to get started with free games on your new Xbox Series S? Here are some of my top recommendations spanning different genres:
- Call of Duty: Warzone
- Apex Legends
- Destiny 2
- Madden NFL trial
- FIFA trial
- PGA Tour 2K21
- Asphalt 9: Legends
- Forza Street
- Killer Instinct
- Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid
And pop those Xbox 360 classics from monthly Games with Gold in the mix too of course!
Following this guide, you‘ll be set up with a killer lineup of free games in no time! Game on!
Let‘s Recap the Options for Free Games
I know that was A LOT of information about all the possibilities for free games on your Xbox Series S. Let‘s do a quick recap:
Free-to-play (F2P) – Over 100 F2P games to download and play indefinitely.
Free trials – Extended 1-2 hour trials to demo new games.
Free Play Days – Full weekend access to certain games monthly for Gold members.
Games with Gold – 4 free monthly games (2 Xbox One, 2 Xbox 360) for Gold members that are yours to keep.
$1 Game Pass trial – Play 100+ games for a month for just $1 when you first sign up.
See, I told you there were tons of awesome options to get your game on without spending a dime!
Let‘s Get You Gaming!
Hopefully this guide gave you a full overview of the possibilities for downloading and playing free games on your new Xbox Series S.
With so many great free-to-play games, limited trials, and Xbox Live Gold member bonuses, you can build an amazing library without spending a cent. Make sure to take advantage of all these options to maximize your Series S!
Let me know if you have any other questions. I‘m always happy to help a fellow gamer get the most out of their Xbox! Game on!