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Get real-time strategy game Planetary Annihilation for free

From the Cheapskate: Available for Windows, Mac and Linux, this intergalactic battle-fest normally costs $30. Plus three bonus deals!

Rick Broida Senior Editor
Rick Broida is the author of numerous books and thousands of reviews, features and blog posts. He writes CNET's popular Cheapskate blog and co-hosts Protocol 1: A Travelers Podcast (about the TV show Travelers). He lives in Michigan, where he previously owned two escape rooms (chronicled in the ebook "I Was a Middle-Aged Zombie").
Rick Broida
3 min read

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Put your wallets away, cheeps! Today's deal won't cost you a penny.

One of my all-time favorite PC games was Total Annihilation (1997). It was real-time strategy at its finest, though also maddening proof that I'm terrible at multi-tasking.

A sequel of sorts, Supreme Commander, followed in 2007. Then, in 2012, another spiritual successor arrived -- but this time on Kickstarter. That game was Planetary Annihilation, and it went from crowdfunded hopeful to finished product on September 5, 2014.

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A $30 real-time strategy game for free? Yes, please.

Bundle Stars

Flash-forward to today. Bundle Stars is offering Planetary Annihilation (for Windows, Mac and Linux) for free when you complete four fairly simple steps. Specifically, you'll receive a key to unlock the game on Steam, where it would otherwise cost you $29.99.

Update: Aaargh...sorry, cheeps. I updated the post early today to reflect the unfortunate expiration of this deal, but it didn't seem to take. So, apologies once again: Bundle Stars ran out of giveaway licenses early this morning.

Here's what you need to do:

  • Sign up for the Bundle Stars newsletter.
  • Join the Bundle Stars group on Steam.
  • Click through to a deal on stand-alone Planetary Annihilation expansion, Titans (currently $11.99, FYI, versus $39.99 on Steam).
  • Click through to view other game deals.

Pretty easy stuff, if you ask me. And in case it's not clear, you perform all those steps by clicking the link above.

Now, about the game itself -- if you check the user reviews on Steam, you'll see they're decidedly "mixed." Look closely, though, and you'll see that's the result of many disgruntled Kickstarter backers. (Funny, I see those three words a lot these days.)

To get a better sense of the merits of the game itself, start with GameSpot's review, then head over to MetaCritic for more scores. They're still mixed, but the consensus seems to be that if you like real-time strategy and are willing to battle the tutorial-less learning curve, you'll have fun here.

And did I mention the price? If you end up not liking the game, uninstall it and unsubscribe from Bundle Stars. No harm done. (And yet I feel like, somehow, someone will find a way to complain about this freebie. Let's see what happens.)

I wish I could add my $0.02 about the game, but I only just got the code. If you've played it, share your thoughts in the comments!


Bonus deal: USB charging ports -- there are never enough, am I right? For a limited time, and while supplies last, Newegg has the Orico DCX-4U 4-port portable wall charger for $5.49 shipped. That's after applying coupon code MRHAG1519 at checkout, and one of the best prices I've seen for such a device.

The DCX-4U features two 2.4-amp ports (think: tablets), two 1-amp ports (phones, e-readers) and a folding wall plug that makes for easier travel. The reviews are mostly positive, and Orico backs the gizmo with an 18-month warranty (and has an admirably visible presence within the user-reviews section).

Bonus deal 2: Not even five full years ago, the iPhone 4S was Apple's flagship. Today, it's a closeout special: Daily Steals has the refurbished, unlocked iPhone 4S for $49.99 shipped. Available in black or white and compatible with both Verizon and GSM carriers like AT&T and T-Mobile, the 4S comes with 8GB of storage and iOS 6. Yikes, right? Maybe not: It can run iOS 9, and keep in mind there are plenty of great uses for an old iPhone -- including my favorite: dedicated jukebox. Connect it to an old speaker dock and use it for full-time streaming of Pandora, Spotify, TuneIn Radio or whatever.

Bonus deal 3: Game time (again)! If you like your first-person shooters over-the-top, with buckets of blood, tons of humor and more than a little racial insensitivity (I'm not here to judge), Steam has Flying Wild Hog's Shadow Warrior for just $3.99. This 2013 "reimagining" of the 3D Realms classic, which scored "overwhelmingly positive" ratings from Steam users, normally sells for $39.99.