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Is City Skylines Free Forever?

Hi friend! If you‘re wondering whether the popular city-building game Cities: Skylines is free forever, I‘ve got you covered. As a fellow gaming enthusiast, I‘ve done some deep research into the various options for getting Cities: Skylines for free or at a steep discount.

The short answer is: Unfortunately, there is no way to permanently get Cities: Skylines entirely free forever at the moment. However, you‘d be surprised at the number of free trials and discounts available if you know where to look! Let me walk you through everything I‘ve learned.

Getting the Base Game for Free

While not free forever, here are some legitimate ways you can initially download and play the base version of Cities: Skylines for free temporarily:

  • Steam Free Weekends: These limited-time events let you play the full game for free during the promo, usually for 3-4 days. The last one was in October 2020.

  • Epic Games Store: In 2019, they gave away the base game free for 1 week. If you claimed it then, you own it forever!

  • Xbox Game Pass for PC: Subscribers can download and play the Xbox One version free as part of their membership.

  • Giveaways: Developers occasionally gift free game codes during promotions and contests. I once won a free Steam key from a Twitter contest!

These offers give you a nice free trial to experience the addictive joy of city planning. But unless you claimed a past permanent giveaway, the base game isn‘t free indefinitely.

Getting DLC and Expansions for Free

Cities: Skylines has plenty of paid DLC that adds new structures, transportation options, weather systems, and more. Here are some creative ways to get that DLC without paying full price:

  • Bundled Editions: The Xbox and Nintendo Switch versions include several major DLC packs like After Dark and Snowfall.

  • Free DLC Giveaways: I grabbed the Natural Disasters DLC when Epic Games Store temporarily gave it away in 2019.

  • Discounted Steam Sales: Steam Sales offer 25-75% off all DLC packs, letting you grab them cheaply over time.

  • Mods: The Steam Workshop has awesome free mods that add buildings, features, and gameplay reminiscent of paid DLC.

With patience, you can accrue most of the DLC for a fraction of full retail value through bundles, sales, and mods!

Is Cities: Skylines Included with Xbox Game Pass?

This was a pleasant surprise to me as a Game Pass member! The Xbox One version of Cities: Skylines is included free for Game Pass members on both Xbox consoles and PC.

However, none of the DLC is included. You‘d need to buy any desired expansions separately. But the base game is accessible for all subscribers!

Can You Get the Game for Free Legally?

Scoring a completely free permanent copy of Cities: Skylines is challenging but possible with some effort:

  • Cities: Skylines currently costs just $7.99 USD in Argentina due to regional Steam pricing. You‘d need an Argentinian Steam account.

  • Paradox offers a 20% educational discount for students and educators. Better than nothing!

  • Approved key resellers like CDKeys regularly have discounted game keys. I saw keys as low as $4.99 recently!

  • Official giveaways like the Epic freebie or content creator contests.

  • Receiving the game as a gift from a friend.

With some persistence checking for deals, you can potentially obtain Cities: Skylines totally free or very cheap!

Is Paying Full Price Worth It?

In my opinion, Cities: Skylines delivers more than enough value to warrant its usual $29.99 asking price. Here is why it may be worth paying full price:

Massive scopeThe base game alone has hundreds of buildings and deep management systems that take dozens of hours to fully master.
Endless replayabilityNo two cities are the same! With limitless freedom, you can spend hundreds of hours building your ideal metropolis.
Active modding communityThe Steam Workshop features over 250,000 free mods and assets that exponentially expand options and customization.
Frequent developer support6+ years after launch, Colossal Order still patches the game and releases new paid DLC packs demonstrating their long-term commitment.
Universal acclaimCities: Skylines has a "Very Positive" rating from over 150,000 Steam reviews and is considered one of the greatest city builders of all time.

Considering that level of quality and content, paying full price for the base game is reasonable in my opinion. The entertainment value is immense!

Gameplay Tips for New Mayors

Once you get the game, here are some tips to help you learn the ropes and build an efficient thriving city as a new player:

  • Start small. Zone only enough housing, commercial, and industrial to meet initial demand. This lets you manage resources before expanding.

  • Mind traffic flow. Inefficient road layouts wreck cities fast. Use large multi-lane roads, one-way streets, public transit, and walkways to optimize traffic.

  • Power and water are crucial. Provide ample electricity generation and water pumping capacity or growth will fizzle.

  • Build zones gradually. Overzoning causes abandoned buildings. Zone new areas slowly as demand rises.

  • Implement public transit early. Buses, metros, and trains reduce traffic and pollution. Build them sooner than later.

Master those fundamentals first, and you‘ll be ready to build a booming metropolis in no time!

Will Cities: Skylines Eventually Go Free?

Based on historical patterns, I expect Cities: Skylines will continue having occasional free giveaways and promotions:

  • Free Weekends will likely coincide with major game updates.

  • We may see a free time-limited giveaway around rumored sequel Cities: Skylines 2‘s launch.

  • Conventions, tournaments, and events related to Cities: Skylines often involve free game code giveaways.

  • Holiday sales on Steam and other platforms sometimes discount the game to free for a limited time.

The bottom line is the developers have a track record of making the game temporarily free to drive interest and engagement with the community. So keep an eye out for those sporadic deals by following Cities: Skylines social media!

Purchasing the Game: What‘s the Best Edition?

If you decide you want to buy Cities: Skylines (a wise choice!), here‘s a quick breakdown of the available editions:

  • Standard Edition: Base game only.

  • Deluxe Edition: Base game + 3 cosmetic building style packs.

  • PlayStation Edition: Base game + After Dark and Snowfall expansions + vehicle unlocks.

  • Xbox One Edition: Base game + After Dark, Snowfall, Natural Disasters expansions + vehicle unlocks.

The special console editions are a good value since they include major expansions for only a small premium over base game cost.

I also heavily recommend picking up the Season Pass which includes 6 expansions for only $24.99. That‘s 50%+ off purchasing them individually!

Finding Discounts and Deals

If you‘re patient, Cities: Skylines goes on sale often with some digging:

  • Add it to your Steam wishlist to get notified of discounts.

  • Watch for it in big Steam Sales (Winter, Summer, etc). I‘ve seen it 50-75% off!

  • Bundle deals on sites like Humble Bundle often have the game discounted in the $10-$15 range.

  • Check and other authorized key sellers for cheap keys.

With the right timing on a Steam or bundle sale, you should be able to score Cities: Skylines for under $10 if you are persistent!

The Verdict

While permanently free copies of Cities: Skylines are elusive, a combination of free trials, giveaways, discounts, bundle deals, and mods can reduce the cost significantly. And if you do buy it at full price, you receive tremendous entertainment value for the money.

I hope this guide gives you some helpful insights and options into getting your city planning fix! Let me know if you have any other questions. Happy building, mayor!



Michael Reddy is a tech enthusiast, entertainment buff, and avid traveler who loves exploring Linux and sharing unique insights with readers.