The Internet is a virtual smorgasbord of awesome, time-consuming content to whittle away the long hours of the day. While Facebook and Reddit give users a chance to catch up on the latest high school gossip and gawk at adorable cat photos, they surely don’t provide the kind of enthralling original content you can achieve from a solid online game. Originally the sole bastion of lame arcade remakes and goofy parodies, cyberspace is now a place of cutting-edge independent software and unbridled creativity. Whether you’re a sucker for a side-scrolling platformer or a fast-paced online shooter you can tackle with your friends.
Here are our top picks for the best 10 free online game sites so you can waste even more countless hours on the computer than your probably already do. Many of them offer a very similar, if not identical game selection, but each has it’s own set of merits that define it from the rest of the pack.
Kongregate, now owned by the Gamestop Corporation, has been a staple of online gaming since it was first introduced in 2007. With almost 70,000 under its belt, the free-to-play site is burgeoning with a vast wealth of diverse games including shooters, role-playing, puzzle, action and online multiplayer. Although registration and signing up is free, users who opt for a premium membership ($30 annually) have exclusive access to special themes, icons, ad-free gaming, private chat rooms and beta releases. We recommend signing up for at least a free account so you can save your badges, points and games as well as participate in the leaderboards and the helpful community forums.
Armor Games may have changed it’s name from Games of Gondor — a smooth move — but it’s still a wonderful site for appeasing the gaming nerd inside all of us. That being said, instead of games like Hob the Hobbit and Orc Slayer, Armor games now showcases a deep, ever-expanding catalog of some of the Web’s most renowned online games as well as some up-and-coming alternatives. Like Kongregate, users can create a free account to access a slew of assorted features such as achievements, Facebook integration and the comprehensive support forums that include everything from tips for newcomers to quest guides for particularly tricky game moments. While main game categories range from strategies and sports to arcade and shooters, Armor Games is looking to hone in on the popular MMO market, recently tackling the genre with games like Sword and Magic and 1100AD.
Addicting Games wasn’t only one of the few online game sites I had access to growing up, it was also one of the best — and it still is. The website has the most extensive category list of any of the sites on our roundup, incorporating categories for girls and “cute shooters,” but it’s also the most childish given the site is owned and operated by Nickelodeon. Still, that fact that it’s aimed toward teens doesn’t mean mean you shouldn’t check out some of the gaming gold the site offers. The Flash-based site has something for everyone, whether you want to button mash or engage in some side-scrolling madness, and even allows you to embed games on your personal blog or social network for greater integration. And who doesn’t like a free app for iOS devices?
Last time I checked, Newgrounds was one the best Flash-based game and animation sites on the Web. A good deal has changed since I stumbled on the site years ago — it now features music content and serves as an online art portal for instance — but it certainly hasn’t lost the Flash-based appeal on which it was founded in ’95. It hosts a great selection of games, from your stereotypical “action and adventure” genre to the more obscure simulation and adult-only titles, and can be specifically filtered by rating, popularity or content views. The forums are bustling and engaging, as is the user community and general, and the site even hosts monthly contests for gaming and animation creators. For instance, the site is hosting the Construct 2 Touch Jam in May, an event for game-creating enthusiasts to show off their latest title for a shot at winning $200 and a premium version of the software. A free account grants you access to in-game medals, leaderboards and various online challenges you otherwise would be forced to bypass.
Supposedly a new copy of PopCap’s Bejeweled is sold every 4.3 seconds, but who’s counting? Now a subsidiary of Electronic Arts, the Seattle-based game company has been churning out a fair share of hit titles including the aforementioned Bejeweled as that one defense game where you purchase plans via sun tokens to protect your front yard from hordes of man-eating zombies. PopCap’s catalog is not the most extensive on our list (it only has 10 titles to date), but the games it does offer are quality and compelling. Another major drawback to the site is its rampant ad-use; not only will you have to view banner and sidescreen ads, but ads between individual levels as well. Still, you can always opt for the modest premium version of any game on the site you desire, discarding ads and allowing you to take your gameplay offline.