The short answer is no, No Man‘s Sky is not free to play on PC. You have to purchase the game in order to download, install and play it. There is no free trial or demo available.
With that out of the way, let‘s dive deeper into the details around No Man‘s Sky‘s pricing, how you could potentially get it for free, and whether it‘s worth buying.
What is No Man‘s Sky?
For anyone unfamiliar, No Man‘s Sky is a space exploration survival game developed by indie studio Hello Games. Originally released in 2016 for PlayStation 4 and Windows PC, it has since expanded to Xbox One, PlayStation 5, and even Nintendo Switch.
The game is set in a procedurally generated science fiction universe with over 18 quintillion unique planets waiting to be discovered. You start out alone on a random world with a broken ship, limited resources, and basic equipment. From there, you are free to explore at your own pace, gathering materials to survive, craft better gear, and upgrade your ship to travel deeper into the galaxy.
Key features include:
Incredible variety of procedurally generated planets, landscapes, creatures, and vegetation. No two worlds are the same.
Seamless open universe with hundreds of star systems and space anomalies to encounter.
Survival mechanics like recharging hazard protection, life support, interacting with alien factions, and battling environmental dangers from extreme cold to raging heat.
Huge selection of resources to mine and blueprints to craft better equipment and bases.
Relaxing or intense experience depending on your preferred playstyle.
Main storyline about unraveling the mystery behind alien artifacts and your own origins.
Optional multiplayer with chances to encounter other travelers on planets or build shared bases.
Full VR headset support for total immersion on PS4 and PC.
Despite a divisive launch, continuous major updates added missing features and dramatically expanded No Man‘s Sky far beyond expectations. There are now millions of species discovered by players across a shared persistent universe.
Purchase Required on All Platforms
While revolutionary in many ways, No Man‘s Sky sticks to a standard paid model. It is not free to play on any platform.
The current prices are:
- PC (Steam/GOG): $59.99 USD
- PlayStation 5/4: $49.99 USD
- Xbox Series X|S/One: $49.99 USD
- Nintendo Switch: $29.99 USD
There are no options to download or play for free. You have to purchase a digital copy from the official platform-specific store for your device – Steam, PlayStation Store, Microsoft Store, or Nintendo eShop.
Physical disc copies for consoles are also available from various retailers. But those still require you to pay the full retail price.
This means any website offering No Man‘s Sky for free is highly suspicious and likely fraudulent. More on how to spot scams later.
Has No Man‘s Sky Ever Been Free?
While not currently free, No Man‘s Sky has been temporarily available for free in the past through official promotions and giveaways.
Notable examples include:
Epic Games Store: No Man‘s Sky was the weekly free game on Epic from October 15-22, 2020. Users could claim it permanently for their library during that period.
Steam Free Weekend: It was free to play on Steam for all users from August 9-13, 2018. Another free weekend from March 26-29, 2020 let players try the new Desolation update.
PlayStation Plus: No Man‘s Sky headlined the monthly PS Plus games lineup in September 2020, and was offered again via the PS Plus Collection for PS5 owners.
Xbox Game Pass: It has been included in Game Pass for console and PC since June 2020, making it essentially free for subscribers.
Official Giveaways: Hello Games has given away copies on social media for promotional purposes, such as prior to the Next update launch in 2018.
So while currently paid, keep an eye out since No Man‘s Sky may again be temporarily free in future short-term promotions.
Is No Man‘s Sky Worth Buying?
Let‘s take a quick look at some pros and cons of No Man‘s Sky to help decide if it‘s worth purchasing:
- Incredible sense of exploration through over 18 quintillion unique planets. New surprises everywhere.
- Huge variety of environments, creatures, vegetation – from barren worlds to lush paradises.
- Satisfying gameplay loop of exploration, survival, crafting, and base building.
- Massive, game-changing free updates completely transformed and expanded the game since launch.
- Relaxing chill experience or intense survival challenge based on your preferences.
- Full single-player story campaign with optional multiplayer elements.
- Support for VR headsets takes the immersion to another level.
- Initial learning curve can seem intimidating with many interlocking systems.
- Being procedurally generated, some repetitive or barren planets are unavoidable.
- Lack of prominent storytelling and lore compared to heavily narrative-driven games.
- Inventory management can be cumbersome at first.
- Still has some technical glitches and performance issues on various hardware.
- Base building is limited compared to pure survival/crafting games.
If the core premise of exploring unknown worlds and making your own adventure appeals to you, No Man‘s Sky is absolutely worth playing. Its sheer scale and ambition are unmatched. There is easily over 100 hours of content to discover now.
Pick it up on sale if concerned, but certainly give No Man‘s Sky a chance if the concept intrigues you at all.
Will No Man‘s Sky Ever Go Free-To-Play?
There are currently no signs No Man‘s Sky will shift to a free-to-play (F2P) model anytime in the foreseeable future.
It seems highly unlikely for a few reasons:
- The price has remained at $60 for PC and $50 for console ever since the original 2016 launch. Despite going on sale frequently, the base price has never dropped permanently.
- Major expansions are released for free instead of paid DLC, funded by new copy sales.
- No microtransactions or live service elements that typically accompany F2P games have been added.
- Available on Xbox Game Pass but not converted to a standalone free game.
- The existing player base remains large enough to sustain the paid model.
- The design vision and pace seems incompatible with aggressive monetization schemes seen in many F2P games.
However, after 6+ years on the market, transitioning to F2P with added cosmetic microtransactions could happen eventually. But No Man‘s Sky going permanently free in the next couple years seems very unlikely based on its ongoing paid update strategy.
Getting No Man‘s Sky for Free – What to Avoid
Since No Man‘s Sky is not currently free, you may come across dubious websites or ads claiming to offer it for free or at a huge discount. These are virtually always illegal scams or malware traps.
Here are some red flags to watch out for:
- Requests personal data, disables antivirus, or insists you download additional files or tools.
- Promises early access, multiplayer cracks, cheating programs, or preorder bonuses.
- The actual free game download is not from trusted sources like Steam or GoG.
- Seems too good to be true – free copies bundled with other paid games.
- Poor grammar, spelling mistakes, and other signs of shady legitimacy.
Attempting to get No Man‘s Sky free from such shady sources will likely result in:
- Viruses/malware that attack your device once executed.
- Account theft by stealing your Steam or GOG login credentials.
- Subscription scams that trick you into recurring payments or services.
- Bloatware or adware that bombard you with useless crapware.
- Cryptocurrency miners that secretly use your device resources without consent.
- Bans for use of illegally obtained game copies violating terms of service.
While tempting, getting No Man‘s Sky through unauthorized means comes with huge risks. For guaranteed safety, it‘s smarter to purchase directly from the official developer and trusted seller websites even if that means paying full price. But stay alert for the next rare free promotion.
Has No Man‘s Sky Improved Since Launch?
If you were disappointed in No Man‘s Sky at launch in 2016, it may be worth giving a second chance. Hello Games has released over 15 major free updates, most of which redefined core aspects of the entire game.
Some highlights of how No Man‘s Sky has evolved since release:
|Foundation||Introduced base building, farming, freighters|
|Pathfinder||Ship and multitool specializations, new planetary biomes|
|Atlas Rises||Joint exploration, portal fast travel, 30 hours of new story content|
|Next||Full multiplayer, unlimited base building, character customization|
|Beyond||Major VR support, Nexus social hub, creatures taming|
|Origins||Overhauled planetary generation, new biomes, fauna, weather|
This barely scratches the surface. Hello Games is dedicated to continually expanding No Man‘s Sky far beyond initial expectations. If the concept still intrigues you, it may be time to finally give this endlessly improved space adventure a proper try.
Final Verdict: No Man‘s Sky Isn‘t Free, But Worth Exploring
While No Man‘s Sky is certainly not free or available on any kind of permanent free trial, it remains well worth experiencing for space fans seeking the ultimate exploration game.
Its sheer scale and freedom are unmatched – an entire procedurally generated universe awaiting your discovery across endless unique planets.
If that sounds exciting, be sure to add No Man‘s Sky to your wishlist and keep an eye out for occasional free promotions. But otherwise take the plunge and let your epic interstellar journey begin! Just be sure to buy from official sources.
The universe is yours for the taking, if you don‘t mind paying the price of admission. But for millions of gamers who have already embarked on their No Man‘s Sky adventures, that cost has been well worth it.
Safe travels and may your quest lead you to sights beyond imagination!