Editor's note: Scott Steinberg is the head of technology and video game consulting firm TechSavvy Global, as well as the founder of GameExec magazine and Game Industry TV. He frequently appears as a technology analyst for ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox and CNN. His most recent book is "Get Rich Playing Games."
(CNN) -- Sick of paying $50 to $60 for a video game?
Well, you're in luck. There are thousands of free games online.
Although none is as epic or technically advanced as the games you'd get with a PC, PlayStation or Xbox, it's hard to argue with free.
Advancements in free online games -- such as advanced 3-D graphics, pre-recorded speech samples and group online play -- are making up some of the gap between the free and paid gaming worlds, too.
Here are a few of my favorite sites for free games:
Tremendous support by the homebrew development community makes this perennial fan favorite a must-see for any online freeloader.
With a slant toward diehard gaming aficionados, the site offers numerous games from genres that are usually associated with gaming consoles. Think point-and-click adventure ("Another Small Favor"), role-playing ("Protector IV") and platform-hopping arcade challenges ("Super Mario Crossover").
Extensive art and film collections also offer ample distraction if you're a fan of cartoons or colorful sketches.
From action to sports and puzzle games, this site offers something for all ages, including family-friendly games like "UNO," "Jumble Crosswords" and "The Last Airbender: Match Master -- Trial of the Elements."
This site is light on offerings for hardcore enthusiasts, but you'll be pleasantly surprised by the 3-D visuals on titles like "Crashdrive 3D" or by the 2-D animated action on "Super Soccer Strikers." There's even a cooking simulator ("Let's Get Grillin") available in time for July 4.
Broad support for social networking elements and a wide range of genres, from shooters to strategy games, make this a well-rounded website.
Players can go head-to-head, compete against friends and family on high score tables, or create custom levels designed for sharing with others in specific games. A healthy mix of branded selections and original creations should please nearly everyone.
This site posts a huge selection of digital diversions -- nearly 30,000 at press time -- that have generated millions of plays, from tower defense title "Cursed Treasure: Don't Touch My Gems" to tongue-in-cheek arcade outing "Toss the Turtle."
Gamers can even earn collectible badges while going at it, chat amongst themselves or purchase power-ups and virtual items. The site also hosts simple, full-fledged massively multiplayer online (MMO) games like "Fantasy Online" and "Heroes of Gaia," which let you enjoy good company.
Given that its logo features crossed swords and a shield, it's no wonder this site features a wider range of games featuring classic subjects like real-time strategic conflicts ("Warfare 1917"), alien invasions ("Last Command") and aerial combat ("H.E.L.I.C.").
Fantasy, military and sci-fi themes are all present, while persistent community features present reason to keep coming back for just one more play.
These destinations are just the tip of the iceberg, however. Dozens of social networks and sites -- including Facebook, MiniClip.com and NinjaKiwi.com -- all offer a wealth of free amusements as well.
Numerous professionally designed virtual worlds and MMOs such as "Free Realms," "Wizard 101" and "Dungeon Fighter Online" also provide endless thrills at zero cost, many on-par visually and gameplay-wise with paid competitors.
The next time the urge to goof off strikes, remember: No matter how tight money may be, you can always find a ready way to rescue the princess or save the world from a zombie apocalypse.