Free to Play


Action / Documentary

Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 78%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 78%
IMDb Rating 8 10 12483


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December 05, 2015 at 12:24 PM



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626.98 MB
23.976 fps
1hr 15 min
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1.24 GB
23.976 fps
1hr 15 min
P/S 4 / 16

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Daryl French 8 / 10

Professional video games: fascinating!

Free to Play is a 2014 documentary film by American video game company Valve Corporation. The film takes a critical look at the lives of Benedict "hyhy" Lim, Danil "Dendi" Ishutin and Clinton "Fear" Loomis, three professional Defense of the Ancients (DotA) players who participated in The International, the most lucrative eSports tournament at the time. The central focus of the film is how their commitment to DotA had affected their lives and how this debut tournament for the sequel, Dota 2, would bring more meaning to their struggles.

Reviewed by ironhorse_iv 8 / 10

This documentary is worth playing, despite a few flaws.

Upon first viewing this film, I was very unfamiliar with the Defense of the Ancients franchise. I had no clue that DOTA 2 was a sequel to a multiplayer online battle arena mod for the 2002's video game, 'Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos' and its 2003 expansion, 'Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne'. I also had no choice that the Valve game was so popular, that the game developer, create a tournament in which, 16 teams of five gamers around the world fight it out for prize money. All of this, made the documentary very interested. However, while, the movie does a good job, showcasing the E-sport event, and some of its key contestants such as Benedict "hyhy" Lim from the Singaporean team 'Scythe Gaming', Clinton "Fear" Loomis, an American player from the international team, 'Online Kingdom', and Danil "Dendi" Ishutin of Ukrainian team 'Natus Vincere'; it doesn't do a good job, explaining, the game and it's rules that much. Why, because some of the fantasy genre gaming jargon still, went over my head. Don't get me wrong, DOTA 2 looks fun, but it also looks too overcomplicated for my taste. I don't know, why certain characters work this moment, and not for others. It's sad, because I do like some video games that takes some thinking, but the concept is a little too complex, for what looks like a simple game of capture the flag. I really can't get into it, even if I wanted. Also, since the game deals with the whole medieval fantasy genre, it looks like it will forever be, a niche market, here in America. While, America does have some appeal to fantasy gaming, it's just not as big as it is in Europe or Asia, due to the fact, that our culture and history is semi new, compare to the old worlds. That's why modern day 'first shooter games' like 'Call of Duty' will outsell 'DOTA 2' any day. It's just not as popular as it, use to be. Plus, other fantasy games like 'League of Legends' is really giving 'DOTA', a taste of competition. I doubt 'DOTA 2', would appeal to those, main audience like, the film portray, it will in a couple years. The film felt a little bit of propaganda; seeing how the film is produce by Valve. It gave all the possible opportunities, but little of the negative. One such example is the movie title. For a movie that titled 'Free to Play', they don't really talk much about the business practice that Valve Corporation use. I guess, the film didn't want to showcase it, too much, because they didn't want people to find out that 'free to play' is technically, not really 'free'. Most 'free to play' games, have players willing to pay for special items or downloadable content, so they may be able to gain a significant advantage over those playing for free. Because of this, some critics call such games "pay-to-win" or "p2w" games. A common suggestion for avoiding pay-to-win is that payments should only be used to broaden the experience without affecting gameplay. For example, 'DOTA 2' only allows the purchase of cosmetic items, meaning that a "free-to-play player" will be on the same level as a player who has spent money on the game, however, since this movie doesn't tell you, the game mechanics would encourages players to pay for extra content that enhances the gameplay, all the time, when in truth, it doesn't affect much, leading to some shady marketing. It's a big concern as games like this, has cause some gamers to gain gambling addiction and finance bankruptcy. Despite that, the movie does tackle the stresses of committing to being good on one game, and its troublesome results with destroying family unions, education and relationship. I do like the physiological character study of the gamers, they feature here, even if one of them, seem a little too obsessed with getting back with an old fling. Unfortunately, the movie does not show, what would happen, to them, once the game, they were playing, become obsolete. Do they try to learn a new game or just quit!? After all, the shelf-life of a video game is pretty short, compare to real-life activities. Also, what makes a person, a veteran in a fairly young medium? This movie should had explore that, more. Another thing, why didn't this film, show the lives of even, one female gamer? It's seem to me, when watching this documentary, that e-sport is a male-driven contest, when in truth, female gamers make just as big as an impact as men in 'DOTA 2' like Jorien van der Heijden or Danelie Purdue. Despite that, the movie is beautifully shot and expertly edited. The game footage, while repetitive is spiced up so well, with the reaction of the gamers and the intense music that it makes, watching the tournament seem like a very heated contest. Overall: While, gaming is still often frowned upon by a wide margin of society as a childish activity which is not to be taken seriously. Films like this, shows that there is somewhat of a future, for pro-gamers, even if they been disconnected from the main server of having a normal life. In the end, this documentary was challenging and worth the time, exploring. So don't be a noob. Go check out, this film and see a different level of playing games.

Reviewed by Kyle Mitchell 9 / 10

Free to Play is an excellent insight into the experiences of competitive gaming

Free to Play is a documentary focusing on the competitive scene of the popular video game, Defense of the Ancients, or commonly referred to as DOTA. It highlights some of the personal experiences behind well- known players in the scene, as well as provide details about their backgrounds and how they came to be professional gamers. The film mainly goes over one tournament in specific, The International. The tournament was record breaking at the time of its creation, with over $1,500,000 in prize money. It was held in 2011 in Cologne, Germany and had 16 different teams compete.

The film went over the lives and beginnings of the three players, Benedict "Hyhy" Lim, Danil "Dendi" Ishutin and Clinton "Fear" Loomis. They were each on different teams, Scythe Gaming, Natus Vincere, and Online Kingdom respectively. The three players all had different ways that they found their teams and ended up competing, and they all had very different backgrounds.

One of the ways that the film communicates these ideas is to have players come on camera and have a one-on-one conversation with the camera, explaining their actions and providing background on their thoughts. That method of exposition lets us connect to the characters far more than simply introducing them as part of the story. We are able to really relate to these people because their lives can seem so similar to ours on some of the most basic levels. They go through almost everything everyone else does, they have families, school, etc. They also just happen to be really interested in gaming. It really goes into detail about how they treat gaming as a whole, and how their families reacted to their devotion to DOTA. It gives us insight as to how these players discovered the gaming world, and what they plan to do with their new interests.

The film also covered the events of the tournament itself, from start to finish. We saw the advancement of the players in the tournament, as well as all of the worries that they had, communicated to us via the players speaking to the camera directly. The film makes us feel almost as if we are in the tournament. The speed quickened and slowed with certain events that were high and low points, it gave us occasional pauses to think about what was happening, as well as provide a window of opportunity for the players to speak their minds.

The target audience of this film was most likely to people who play these games normally, and would like to get into the competitive scene of any sort of video game in general. It also could be for people who do not know much about gaming culture and wish to understand more of it. Either way, this film did exactly that, and very effectively. Even if you did not understand much at all about DOTA or any other game like it, the film was also able to accurately describe the terms within these games that may have been confusing to people not familiar with the gaming culture. Every time a new term was introduced, they would show the word and the definition on the screen, and give enough time to read and absorb it.

Overall the film did an amazing job of bringing us into the world of the competitive gamer, from describing the average backgrounds that these people came from, to the process of entering the competitive scene, and so on. I highly recommend anyone interested in gaming culture even in the slightest to go see it for themselves. The film itself is easy to access, as well. It's available for free on YouTube in full HD, so go watch it. You won't regret it.

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