The quick answer is no – Need for Speed Heat is not a free-to-play game. It‘s a paid title that normally costs $29.99 on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.
However, there are limited-time deals and subscriptions that allow you to play NFS Heat for free or at a discount. Keep reading this comprehensive guide to understand all your options for playing NFS Heat without paying full price in 2023.
Subscription Services That Offer NFS Heat
While NFS Heat isn‘t permanently free, subscribing to certain gaming services grants access to the full game as part of their catalog. Here are the main subscriptions that provide NFS Heat:
EA Play subscribers can download and play the complete NFS Heat experience as one of over 100 titles included. An EA Play membership costs:
- $4.99 per month
- $29.99 annually
When your EA Play expires, you‘ll lose access to NFS Heat. But it‘s a cost-effective way to enjoy the game for a month or year.
Xbox Game Pass
NFS Heat is playable on Xbox One/Series X|S and PC via Game Pass. The Game Pass library contains hundreds of games, including major releases like NFS Heat on day one.
Game Pass membership pricing:
- Console or PC only = $9.99 per month
- Console + PC (Game Pass Ultimate) = $14.99 per month
Again, NFS Heat will become inaccessible if you cancel Game Pass. But active subscribers can play the full NFS Heat experience at no added cost.
Amazon Prime Gaming
Amazon Prime subscribers (over 200 million worldwide) receive free game downloads each month through Prime Gaming. NFS Heat has been one of the free Prime games in the past.
However, these offers are only for a limited time. You can‘t play NFS Heat through Prime indefinitely. But be sure to claim it fast whenever NFS Heat pops up free for Prime members again!
Limited Time Free Trial Events
Occasionally EA will make NFS Heat free to play for everyone for a weekend or week. They‘ve done several free trials since launch:
|Free Trial Period||Date|
|Free Play Days||June 11-14, 2020|
|Free Weekend||September 29 – October 3, 2022|
Follow Need for Speed social media and subscribe to EA‘s emails to get alerts for the next free trial opportunity. While infrequent, it‘s a chance to play NFS Heat fully for free.
Is NFS Heat Ever Coming to Mobile?
Sadly, there are currently no plans to bring NFS Heat to mobile platforms. It‘s built using the Frostbite engine which makes a direct mobile port unfeasible.
The only NFS game available on iOS and Android is the free-to-play Need for Speed No Limits – a separate mobile-centric title with simplified graphics and handling.
However, industry analysts speculate that future entries in the Need for Speed series will launch simultaneously on console, PC, and mobile. With mobile processors and 5G improving each year, a mobile version of NFS Heat or its sequels could happen. But likely not until at least 2025 and beyond.
For now, enjoy NFS Heat on desktop and console. Or try out NFS No Limits on your phone for casual racing action on the go.
Will NFS Heat Receive Any Future Content Updates?
NFS Heat‘s development is considered complete as of mid-2020. No further updates or downloadable content packs are planned.
The game received several major content drops in late 2019 and early 2020 that added new modes, races, cars, and customization items. But studio Ghost Games has ceased active development.
Here‘s an overview of the last few major NFS Heat updates:
Black Market Update (December 2019):
- Added 78 new customization items
- Increased Bank limit to $500,000
Lunar New Year Update (February 2020):
- 3 new Racing Events
- Chinese-themed vanity items
- Visual upgrades for the Honda Civic Type-R
Spring Update (March 2020):
- Increased REP level cap to 60
- Added chat wheel for messaging
- Multiple quality-of-life fixes
Final Heat Update (June 2020):
- New Black Market Delivery gameplay
- Increased Bank limit to $2,000,000
- 25+ new customization items
- Quality-of-life improvements
While bittersweet, Ghost Games wrapped up development on a high note. NFS Heat feels content-complete with tons of events, modes, and customization items to enjoy.
Attention now turns to the next NFS title in 2022 – possibly returning to the underground street racing roots of Underground and Most Wanted!
Reviewing NFS Heat‘s Strengths & Weaknesses
Need for Speed Heat earns generally favorable reviews, scoring 72/100 on Metacritic based on 43 critics:
|IGN||7.8 / 10|
|GameSpot||8 / 10|
|Game Informer||7.8 / 10|
|Destructoid||7 / 10|
|Polygon||6.5 / 10|
Reviewers praised the return to street racing roots with tense police chases. But criticized the disjointed story and lack of multiplayer free roam.
What NFS Heat Does Well:
- Satisfying handling model and sense of speed
- Massive visual customization system
- Huge open world map to explore
- Innovative day/night cycle system
- Fun cops vs racers dynamic
Where NFS Heat Falters:
- Forgettable story and characters
- Repetitive race types and events
- Dated graphics
- No multiplayer free roam
- Steep learning curve for new players
Overall, NFS Heat succeeds as an enjoyable arcade racer despite some repetitive missions. The moment-to-moment racing stands out as fun and rewarding.
Is NFS Heat Too Difficult for Casual Gamers?
NFS Heat doesn‘t offer many driving assists or difficulty options to help new players. You‘re thrown directly into racing without tutorials.
Here are some settings to enable if you find NFS Heat challenging as a casual gamer:
- Steering – Switch from Simulation to Normal or Casual
- Traction Control – Higher levels provide more grip
- Braking Assist – Shortens stopping distance
Also, don‘t worry about winning every event early on. Focus on small REP and Bank gains to upgrade your car. Use faster vehicles like the Lamborghini Huracan once available to make winning easier.
While challenging at first, you can adjust settings to make NFS Heat more approachable. It just takes practice and patience to adjust to the arcade handling.
Will NFS Heat Receive a Next-Gen Upgrade?
As of now, there are no official plans for a native PS5 and Xbox Series X/S version of NFS Heat. It remains a last-gen title.
The game does benefit from backwards compatibility enhancements on next-gen consoles like 4K resolution and faster load times. But no meaningful graphical overhaul has been announced.
EA‘s focus seems to be shifting fully to developing new Need for Speed games for next-gen hardware. NFS Heat will likely stay frozen as a PS4/Xbox One title.
However, a fan-made mod called Heat Redux is in development to give NFS Heat ray tracing, improved textures, and visual effects worthy of modern hardware. It shows the potential of a true next-gen upgrade.
Criteria for NFS Heat Being Worth It in 2023
In 2023, NFS Heat remains a worthwhile purchase if:
- Active players: Strong playerbase across all platforms
- Well-optimized: Runs smooth on modern PCs
- Good pricing: Costs $20 or less on sale
- Holds up gameplay-wise: Still a fun arcade racer
- No sequel yet: Next NFS 1+ years away
Based on these criteria, NFS Heat checks all the boxes. It has an active community, runs well on newer hardware, goes on sale often, plays great, and will remain relevant until the next NFS arrives.
The game is absolutely still worth buying in 2023 for PC, PS4, and Xbox One gamers seeking an authentic illegal street racing experience. For under $20 on sale, it delivers hours of high-octane fun.
Will EA Eventually Make NFS Heat Free to Play?
While unlikely in the short term, industry trends point towards major publishers like EA eventually making older titles free-to-play as service games.
Releasing NFS Heat as a F2P game with cosmetic microtransactions could pump life back into the franchise. It would also strengthen EA Play‘s value proposition.
Here are some benefits if NFS Heat went free-to-play:
- Increased players: More active userbase from zero cost
- Monetization: Sell skins, car parts, etc.
- Modern model: F2P is popular and profitable
- No splits: Unify PC, console, and mobile
Of course, quality concerns arise around aggressive monetization tactics. But a thoughtfully designed free-to-play framework could work well for NFS Heat.
For now, wishful thinking. But down the road, don‘t be surprised if NFS Heat drops its price tag entirely as the franchise pursues games-as-a-service.
Final Verdict: Should You Play NFS Heat in 2023?
- Core game is paid: NFS Heat costs $20-30 normally
- Temporarily free: Via subscriptions or promotions
- Great gameplay: Fast pacing and cop chases
- Strong support: Regularly updated after launch
- Big customization: 1000+ car parts
- Active community: Still popular on all platforms
Despite no further updates planned, Need for Speed Heat absolutely still holds up as a must-play arcade racer in 2023. For street racing fans, it delivers an exciting open world playground with tons of customization options.
Between the lengthy solo career mode, diverse event types, and addictive car progression system, NFS Heat is easy to recommend when discounted. Minor gripes aside, it captures the adrenaline and attitude of illegal street racing.
So cruise Palm City in style and relive Need for Speed‘s heyday. Just don‘t get busted!