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The best IO games

With the end of Flash support, many beloved browser games will be lost to time. So many great games were built on Flash, but for years, there have been hundreds of amazing games built under the IO banner.

These games, just like Flash, all run in your browser for free. In more ways than one, IO games are essentially the future of what Flash games were. Again just like Flash, there are tons of IO games out there, an overwhelming amount in fact, and picking out the good from the bad isn’t always easy to do. That’s why we’ve compiled this list of the 10 best IO games you should jump into.

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What are IO games?

IO games saw a major rise in popularity thanks to influential YouTubers and Twitch streamers riding the wave of short, chaotic, and accessible experiences, but what exactly are IO games? IO itself simply stands for the extension used for the British Indian Ocean Territory domain, whereas the U.S uses .com or Canada uses .ca. The first two IO games to hit it big, and, ended up creating the trend of having the .io as an indicator of the genre rather than the domain.

IO games themselves have a loose definition, but all follow a few basic standards. They’re all browser-based, free-to-play games with a multiplayer element. That’s essentially it. They’re meant to be fun, often bite-sized experiences that you can jump into with no barriers to entry.
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Even though this was one of the earliest IO games to come out, still holds a place on this list as one of the best the genre has. The concept is simple and not terribly unique, but it’s executed so well that you’re bound to get hooked for at least an afternoon or two. You play as a tiny circle roaming around a grid with other circles. Your goal is to touch smaller circles to “eat” them and become larger while avoiding the larger circles that will absorb you. Some of these other circles will be controlled by other players that complicate your strategy. It’s basic enough that anyone can understand and jump in, but it’s difficult to master.
Image used with permission by copyright holder is a game that really nails that Flash look and feel. You control a plane zipping around an endless air battle with other players trying to shoot each other down. There are plenty of power-ups and weapons you can pick up to change up your strategy and become a more deadly pilot. This is a much faster paced game, though, so don’t expect to stay alive for more than a minute or two.
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Moving from planes to tanks, uses a simple art style of basic shapes but has a somewhat surprisingly robust leveling system underneath. You’ll roll around, blasting away at pentagons, circles, triangles, and, of course, other players’ tanks to earn XP towards leveling up. You can then choose how you want to improve your tank, such as improving damage, bullet speed, health regen, and much more. Plus, you have your choice of game modes like FFA and team battles to keep you addicted even longer.
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Snake once stood alongside the likes of Tetris as one of the most recognizable and popular “simple” games out there. Perhaps it lost a lot of clout because it isn’t one of only a handful of games you can play on your phone anymore, but now we have reviving and improving on where that title left off. You already know how its going to work: You guide a snake around eating pellets to grow longer, but, as with all IO games, you’re not alone. Not only do you have to worry about not running into your own growing tail, but other players’ tails as well.
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Moving away from the somewhat stressful side of gaming, is your Pictionary substitute. Just like the classic game, one player will be given a word they need to convey to the rest of the players only through pictures they draw themselves. The concept is as solid as the board game, but being able to hop right in and start drawing and guessing without worrying about getting a group together and writing down scores makes this version way more appealing, even though drawing with a mouse can be difficult.
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Let’s face it, the zombie survival genre isn’t going anywhere at this point. Why not get a quick fix by loading into for some fast zombie action? This game has all the trappings you’ve come to expect from the genre, such as looting weapons and supplies, managing hunger and thirst, and fighting off zombies, of course. This game uses simple 3D graphics that won’t impress you on a visual level but do make it stand out from most IO games.
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As long as we’re looking at popular genres, we might as well pick out one that mimics the most popular of them all. is one of many options you have for a battle royale game in the IO space, but this one is hard to beat. Yes, you know the basics. It’s you against everyone else on a small-ish sized map, running around picking up guns while trying to stay within the circle. What edges it above the hundreds of pretenders is the feel and almost pixel art style the game has that make it a joy to look at and control.
Image used with permission by copyright holder is one of the most ambitious IO games out there. The 3D graphics are top notch for what it is, and the systems and controls are actually fairly deep compared to most IO games. You play as a little robot on a simple map trying to destroy all other bots you come across using a twin-stick style control scheme. The only problem is that this level of ambition does come with some lengthy loading times, especially compared to how lighting fast you can hop into the other titles on this list.
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This might not be the next Final Fantasy or Elder Scrolls game, but is a surprisingly competent and addictive RPG. You start off choosing a class and creating your avatar and then are thrust into a world to adventure however you like. There are monsters roaming around the world to battle for XP, skills to unlock, and just about everything you’d expect from a traditional RPG only shrunk down.
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Taking cues from the best games on this list and merging them together, has everything a great IO game should. It has as simple of a concept as, where you play as one of several sea creatures swimming around consuming smaller objects, but with light RPG mechanics as you level up and evolve into new creatures with different abilities. The best part is how open the game actually is. If you’d rather just swim around, explore, and evolve without fighting other players, you can just evade and hide from conflict. If you’d rather be a predator, go for it. Either way, you’ll sink way more time into this game than you realize.

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Jesse Lennox
Jesse Lennox loves writing, games, and complaining about not having time to write and play games. He knows the names of more…
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