Savage was released as freeware to after some time and i think this might have something to do with the many supported BSD and linux distributions.
By releasing it as free software they wont get more windows people to play games but they will however get more linux people to play the game since there is a serious lack of good games on linux they might win some hearts and sell some more new releases if and when they come.
To be honest i bought the first savage just because it runs great on linux and i like to fill some hours with games during my work specially on those slow day's (not to many but still).
After i bought it i found out it was a fairly nice game
Savage2 went to free because it sucked so bad it couldn't get anyone else interested in the game. I am a beta subscriber and even a playable beta was 6 months behind their expected date - and I don't think they have an enticing product even still. S2 did make a great game in the original Savage but has since released the code and while I doubt it contains malware it will behoove you to become the friend of someone on the server and help pay for their servers. The code to make you better, faster, stronger depend on your keeping up with the coders who are, practically, now anonymous. So, donate, (a good idea anyway, were it not such a corrupt game) - and pwn newcomers and oldies who believe in fairplay.
I play savage2, and I can't see bad remarks about the game. You can play as commander or as normal unit. In most cases you'll play as unit since you'd have to be elected as commander. If you are beginner leave commanding to experienced players, and another reason is that in my opinion playing as soldier is way better (commanding can be stressful and is full of parallel tasks). Combat system is actually quite good. I don't want to explain it here since it would take a while. Graphic is on decent level. So I can't mark this game as "bad", or as in previous post: "it sucks". I enjoy playing it, and I do play it 2 hours a day, 2-3-4 rounds of game depending whether your finish earlier or have a really good fight. On average one round lasts about 30 mins. This is not an RPG game, so whenever you start, you start same as everyone else. Exception are people with runes (they paid for them), but I can't notice which player has runes and which not. Also game is very balanced on terms of player skills with unique ranking of skill factor, which accurately shows the skill of a player. My SF is 99, so I would be like little above-normal player. But there are people with sf over 200 which play amazingly. As one said: They simply dance through the battlefield. I wrote too much already, as you can see my impression of the game is very good (for a free game excellent), so what's the catch? WHY IS IT FREEE?
--As free account you can play indefinitely, true, but you won't get the most important thing- Demons. As free player you can summon demons only ones, just to try them. They cost souls (which are earned by killing other players). I already summoned all 3 kinds of free demons, so I can't summon them more so I am going to buy the upgraded account but payment options doesn't suite my country yet so I have to wait. It doesn't affect my play too much, but I have to admit, it is better with demons XD
-- Second thing is that with upgraded account you can have 6 items equipped at the same time, while in free only 4. It is useful to have more place for armor and potions at the same time, but I manage somehow.
-- Clans, etc. small formalities come with upgraded account.
--NOTE: runes are sold separately, and do not last life time, also kinda expensive so not attractive to be bought.
Basically, download the game, play it. If you like it enough to need demons, then upgrade account. That's it, no hidden tricks, directly from my perspective, player's perspective.