Candystand was launched in 1997 by, of all companies, Nabisco. Yeah, for whatever reason, people in the cookie business decided to get into the online gaming business, and it worked out! The site’s changed hands a couple times since the late ’90s, but Candystand remains a premier portal of free Flash and Shockwave games. As with most free online gaming sites, you have to wait through annoying video ads before being able to play a given game, which is a bummer. Additionally, you can register a free account with Candystand, which lets you compete for trophies and other prizes with fellow gamers.
It’s appropriate that the logo of Zynga is a bulldog, considering the games they’ve launched, such as FarmVille, grab our time and attention and don’t let go, like a tenacious canine. Because Zynga is a “social gaming” company, their games are best played through mobile devices (you can download them as free apps) or on your desktop through Facebook, encouraging cooperation with friends who also play the games. Zynga games are as simple as they are addictive.
There are only two games (so far) on Totaljerkface–it’s all done by just one guy–but, man, are they fun games. Divine Intervention follows a rogue priest as he journeys through a post-apocalyptic cityscape, blowing away demon-possessed citizens in gory detail. Happy Wheels is a racing game in which you zip through a variety of levels, but because of its ragdoll physics and bloodshed, it’s so much more than just a racing game. Play both to maximize your time-wasting.
Despite the kinda macabre name, DeadWhale is good clean fun, with an emphasis on puzzle and strategy games. Their Flash games look and play great on desktop, and come with free mobile apps that let you take them on the road. Bubble Spinner is by far the most maddeningly entertaining offering they have, a game that’ll imprint itself on your brain a la Tetris.
This site takes the central premise of free online games and strips it right down to its basics. Bored? Then go to Bored and whittle away the boring hours with dozens of simplistic free games. Of course, they make you sit through ads before you can play the games, which is irritating, but it’s a small price to pay for free gaming.
What do you think of our roundup of the best free online game sites? Did we miss anything particularly spectacular? Let us know in the comments below.
Article originally published Dec. 8, 2008. Last updated on April 24, 2014, by Jacob O’Gara.