This article was originally published on Feb. 4, 2013, and updated on March 25, 2014. Emily Schiola contributed to this article.
More than 291 million people played Facebook games through the online social networking site in 2012, up a staggering 35 million from the previous year. Though a large number, it’s not particularly surprising given that there are more than a billion Facebook users on the planet. With more users comes more revenue and subsequently, more games.
However, let us not forget making the perfect Facebook game is an art form, much like the paintings embellishing the Louvre or that meme with a small child holding up his fist. A great game should pit friends against friends, strangers against strangers, in a constant notification battle for ultimate social networking supremacy. Quality titles encompass everything from word puzzles and arcade-style fighters to tower defense games and jetpack-equipped sidescrollers, along with everything in between. And like any game worth playing, they may come at the cost of a dear friend — or worse — your own self-esteem. After all, there’s really no way to trump “oxyphenbutazone” when perfectly played over two triple-word and triple-letter tiles in Words with Friends.
He are our picks for the best Facebook games in the App Center, whether you want to sling feathery animals, build civilizations from the ground up, or just plant some corn. Also, check out our picks for the best Facebook apps, the best Google Chrome games, and the best Flash games if you’re looking for a better way to kill an hour out social networking.
Trivia & Word
Words with Friends remains one of the best options for both the casual and diehard word junky. The turn-based game works in the same vain as Scrabble, allowing players to spell out individual words for different point values, and letting players challenge both friends and strangers alike on a grid lined with triple-letter and double-word score tiles. Plus, players can play up 20 games at once and trash talk your opponents through the built-in chat feature. Can you spell “awesome?”
Love it or hate it, Family Feud isn’t just for those long sick days in front of the television. Based on the fast-pace show of the same name, the app places players in a content against friends and strangers alike, prompting them to answer the most popular responses to a survey question posed to 100 people. Best of all, it features authentic music and graphics, while leaving Steve Harvey’s undeniable sass at the door. Just be sure to grab a friend to capitalize on that Fast Money.
Ready to wrack your musical brain? SongPop is the perfect companion for the musical know-it-all who wants to show off his or her skills against online friends. It works like a standard trivia game; players listen to a song clip and then try to choose the correct answer among a few multiple choice options. The game isn’t particularly enthralling, but serves as a great way to challenge your friends, rediscover lost hits, and open your mind to new musical genres. Believe us, you’ll be surprised what you actually know.
You Don’t Know Jack is the game for you, that is, assuming you like to compare Dalai Lama tweets with those from Taylor Swift, while deciphering phrases from vague and humorous clues as host “Cookie” Masterson yells. With You Don’t Know Jack, players compete against five other people through while answering a short series of questions culminating in a final round. The question format remains the same throughout the game, primarily encompassing multiple-choice questions and a few fill-in-the-blank, but the questions vary. They cover nearly every topic you could think of, from the general to the celebrity-entrenched, but they’r easy to come by once you crack the code.
Next Page: The best Casino games.
Although Zynga debuted Texas HoldEm Poker more than five years ago, it remains one of the company’s flagship games to this day. You may not be able to win actual money, but you can still join any table — from casual to tournament style — and face off with up to nine players from around the globe in what Zynga claims is the world’s largest free-to-play online poker game. Also, feel free to spend real money on gifts for friends and decorating your table seat.
Though nothing like the Hangover, myVEGAS is the best way to prepare for visiting everyone’s favorite, sinful city without setting foot out the door. Not only does the slot title allow gamers to get in some practice on a varying mix of machines, but it also awards real-life prizes users can redeem in Vegas. Although it may take a fair amount of time — and winning — to earn said prizes, users can cash in their virtual chips for free concert tickets, drink specials, and overnight suites at the Bellagio, MGM Grand, and New-York New-York among others. It may be a stereotypical as far as casino games go, but the real-like perks are hard to pass up.
Bingo Bash isn’t the kind your grandmother tackles with her friends on a Sunday afternoon. It’s the No. 1, self-proclaimed mobile bingo title in the world, shuffling players through different worlds adorned with penguins, sphinx, and Jack Frost among a slew of other nontraditional characters. The gameplay functions akin to regular bingo, with an announcer calling out specific tiles on which you hope you’ve placed a card, but random rewards and experience points add a welcome twist to the title. Players don’t directly compete with friends, but in typical social media fashion, they can send friends power-ups and gifts to aid them in their struggle for the next level. Moreover, players can even set up multiple boards if one proves too tedious, offering a frantic opportunity for failure or success.
Next Page: The best Action & Arcade games.
Action & Arcade
Bejeweled Blitz is a slight, yet familiar, deviation from PopCap’s classic strategy game that has been around for more than a decade. The game gives players a shotgun 60-second block of time to match and subsequently detonate three or more corresponding shapes, whether they be Flame gems, Star gems, or Hypercubes. Boosts and powerful Rare Gems add to the fanfare, allowing players to quickly achieve high scores. It’s quick and simple, but the online leaderboard adds to Blitz’s competitive edge and keeps players striving to move up in the weekly rankings.
It was only a matter of time before two of the most beloved franchises of all time joined forces. Angry Birds Star Wars is a culmination of more than 35 years of sci-fi history and Danish popularity, one in which players catapult a barrage of warm-blooded, egg-laying vertebrates at an array of Pigtroopers and their forts via slingshot. Familiar settings range from the vast nether regions of space to Tatooine and the Death Star, with the latter serving as the final setting against Darth Vader. The birds portray notable characters from the films, such Luke Skywalker and Han Solo, and players can challenge their friends in a weekly tournament. Admittedly, deflecting lasers with your lightsaber while flying through the far better than we once thought.
Marvel:Avengers Alliance is the game for comic buffs, superhero fans, and the like. The turn-based action game allows you to team up with your favorite assortment of classic heroes (Spiderman, the Hulk, Captain America, etc.) and battle some of the most notorious villains in comic book history. Every character — including your very own avatar — comes with its own set of strengths and weaknesses, but you can continually level up your heroes and better equip them for the constant onslaught of combat.
It was only a matter of time before Halfbrick’s 2D, iOS hit reached Facebook game shelves. In Jetpack Joyride, you play as Barry Steakfries, a downtrodden businessman who steals a machine gun jetpack and attempts to break out of an experimental laboratory. The game takes no time to figure out — all you do is click the screen to make your character ascend and release to descend — but takes some practice to truly hone your skills. Dodge treacherous obstacles, collect coins, purchase items, and unlock a cheeky lineup of jetpacks. Good luck getting past the two-minute mark.
Next Page: The best Simulation games.
Farmville 2 is the successor of the original Facebook game that set the bar in terms of gaming on a social networking site. Whether you’ve played it or not you probably know the drill by now — you cultivate your farmland by plowing, planting, and harvesting various crops and trees day in and day out. Players can also raise livestock, give gifts, participate in cooperative jobs with their friends, and even attend farmer’s market where they can swap all their hard-earned agricultural wares with other players.
Kitchen Scramble is a title capitalizing on the latest culinary trend: food carts. Players take on the role of a food owner, shuttling from location to location and serving a smorgasbord of dishes based on real-life recipes and steps. There’s an assortment of challenges are your disposal — the most import dealing with the cleanliness of your kitchen — and a variety of customers to cater to in order to achieve the highly-sought, three-star rating. It’s not going to teach you the fine art of making creme brulee, but players can learn to cook regionally-renowned dishes, and even upgrade their kitchen with different power-ups and enhancements to ensure the utmost efficiency. Gameplay can be slow and challenging while working on a tight budget, but hey, that’s the nature of mobile restaurants.
The whole, realm-wide curse thing is standard when it comes to fantasy titles — probably because it works. Zynga’s CastleVille Legends gives gamers the opportunity to erect an entire kingdom, allowing them to build a civilization in a variety of regions. whether it be Mossback Swamp or the Pinnacles of Ice. Players also control a hero which they can use to scout for new territories and rare treasure, ushering the unit through ancient ruins and magical springs in search of valuable goods to trade with friends. The title revels in a global trade economy, and though you may have to wait until your desired goods are in season to land the best deals, the added player-to-player trading make it more expansive than most of the developer’s past works. Hell, it even offers offline play that will automatically save when connected to the Internet.
Jurassic Park Builder, as the name might imply, is a venerable cross between Sim City and Steven Spielberg’s ’93 classic of the same name. Players create theme park — complete with concessions stands, hotels, exhibits, a security offices — and then search the grounds for fossilized amber from which to extract ancient, dinosaur DNA. The title offers a full gambit of dinosaurs to raise, from carnivorous velociraptors to winged pterodactylus, and includes three distinct parks located on the Isla Nublar, a seabed, and Patagonia, respectively. Earning in-game funds and raising dinosaurs isn’t exactly a speedy process, but players can additionally maximize their time and gains through the game’s “Code Red” mode. It’s essentially an apocalyptic scenario in which you must prevent dinosaurs from escaping during a hurricane, and moreover, a phenomenal way to pass the time while your tyrannosaur is incubating.
Next Page: The best RPG & Adventure games.
RPG & Adventure
Who doesn’t love a game where you crossbreed fire-breathing beasts and let them duke it out against your friends in an arena? MuchGames’ recent arrival lets you hatch, raise, and train a team of dragons for combat in a world of floating islands and Zeus-like dragon masters. It’s kind of like a stripped-down version of Pokemon combined with some aspects of a decent RTS, requiring players to build and maintain dragon habitats through a series of gold-earning quests. The social component may be a little lackluster given players can do little more than visit their friends’ cities, but the sweeping range of available dragons creates an element of variability only obtained through cross breeding and staggered evolution. Plus, you know, no energy bar.
The long-awaited sequel to Mafia Wars may have shut down soon after its initial debut, but the original is here to stay. In Mafia Wars, players join the ranks of the world’s most dangerous mafia, collaborating with their friends to rob other crews and purchase firearms in an effort to overthrow rival crime bosses. Although probably nothing like a real-world crime empire, players are afforded the opportunity to run a mafia from all sides, building up businesses and properties while engaging in player-to to battles. Different items, such as weapons and armor, help dictate who wins matches, and locations such as New York and Las Vegas provide background context as the player levels up and expand their reach with new weekly content. It’s like the Sopranos never ended.
Much like the aforementioned CastleVille Legends, Royal Story is a stimulation title bringing together Farmville and the brothers Grimm in bright, bubbly fashion. Players take on the role of either a prince or princess, working to reunite his or her family and build up their former inheritance up after losing it all at the hands of an evil witch. The title’s economy-based gameplay proceeds relatively slow, ushering players to till the land, plant a bevy of cash crops, tend animals, and yes, brew coffee. Furthermore, players can aid their friends with power-ups and use rewards to purchase certain gameplay items and customization features only available with currency obtained through social cooperation. Expanding your territory can be tough, but then again, constructing Rome probably wasn’t any easier.
If Diablo was free-to-play and housed within Facebook, it would likely resemble Kings Road. Players can choose from either a knight, wizard, or archer — each specializing in a different area of expertise — and engage in real-time combat and loot-driven exploration alongside two others. The action-RPG gameplay is quick to learn, but difficult to master, and the 3D visuals are some of the best and most alluring of any title on our roundup. Towering bosses, a robust leveling system, lore-based quests, and customizable equipment come standard, making eradicating the darkness plaguing the kingdom of Alderstone that much more alluring. The spells, abilities, and items are as basic as it gets, but the challenge lies in effectively balancing the three.
Next Page: The best Puzzle games.
Diamond Dash is little more than a Bejeweled wannabe, except you can share your fortune with all your Facebook friends. Like Bejeweled, players have a mere 60 seconds to match and obliterate as many colorful diamonds as they can in a quick succession, racking up their score and fighting for control of the online leaderboard in the process. Additionally, players can either aid their friends or challenge them in a one-on-one competition, while harnessing magic boosts, bombs, and plethora of score powers in the weekly tournament.
If you’re signed up for Facebook and haven’t heard about Candy Crush Saga by now, you’re either utterly immune to annoying people or have somehow skirted your account for more than a year. For those who don’t know, Candy Crush functions akin to the aforementioned Bejeweled — and subsequently Diamond Dash — but with candy morsels. Players traverse a barrage of increasingly-difficult worlds while trying matching and removing groups of three or more candies of the same vain. Unfortunately, the game grants players five lives every 12 hours, so a big part of the game is asking your friends for additional lives and power-ups. However, if you just want to keep playing sans waiting, check out our simple guide on how to get free lives in Candy Crush Saga.
There’s no denying the original Plants vs. Zombies wasn’t a noteworthy title in the tower-defense genre, and the humorous followup is just as excellent. The zombie apocalypse is well under way when you begin, and as expected, your only line of defense is the precise placement of specific plants. Each plant touts its own ability, weather designed to freeze enemies or merely damage them, and you must place the plants quickly enough to fend off perpetual waves of foes as they stagger toward your doorstep. The sequel is more expansive than its successor, lined with a swath of new enemies and power-ups, along with new locations, side missions, unlockable content, and swath of other welcome features. The best part? Developer PopCap Games ditched the premium price the second time around.
Although mobile phones are more advanced than they’ve ever been, there will always be a looming sense of nostalgia for the days for the days when one could throw a phone and randomly dent a wall or wood floor. Likewise, games like Tetris and Snake will always be remembered, albeit usually not fondly. With Tetris Battle, players engage in the same block-strewn gameplay, only with a heavier emphasis on multiplayer components and an expanded selection of pre-populated maps. The matchmaking is superb and challenging, pairing both friends and foe alike against one another in a competitive time attack, with sole goal to clear 40 lines of blocks. Additional game modes offer a refined twist on the classic, but it’s still just Tetris.
What do you think of our top picks for the best Facebook games? Did we miss anything phenomenal? Let us know in the comments below.
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