Believe it or not, online games have been in existence for almost half a century. In the 1970s, the PLATO system supported a few thousand graphics terminals distributed across the globe. Though it was initially deployed by the University of Illinois to disseminate online lessons, students started creating multiplayer games for it when graphics capabilities were introduced.
The first peer-to-peer computer game was developed in 1973 by summer interns at NASA’s Ames Research Center. It was a first person shooter that had a two-player option since the interns had connected two computers with serial cables. In 1980, the first multi-user dimension (MUD) game created by students at the University of Essex was connected to the ARPANET, which was the precursor to the modern internet.
The rise of MUDs and PvP gaming fostered a wave of online role-playing games during the 80s and the industry has evolved and expanded ever since, with a huge range of premium and free online games available. If you’re looking to play games and have some fun, read on to understand what you should watch out for.
The beauty of all the free games to play online is that they are inherently accessible. With the rise of portable devices and 4G internet, gaming is no longer limited to the times you’re at home. You can play online games whenever you get a break, wherever you are. Furthermore, many of the top titles across all the leading online game genres have embraced the games-as-a-service (GaaS) model, providing new features and live ops events constantly to keep players engaged for years.
You are never too old to play games online, period. The broad spectrum of game genres means that you will struggle not to find something that captures your imagination. Whether it’s trivia games to test your general knowledge, puzzle games to train your brain, or arcade games that offer a nostalgic twist, no matter your age you will be able to play free online games with no downloads necessary.
The rise of the Player vs Player (PvP) mode of gameplay has transformed genres like strategy and shooters. With real-time engagement and competition, these games indulge your competitive spirit as you battle to work your way up the leaderboards. If you like the feeling of getting one over your friends, you should look out for these games to play.
It’s never been easier to find and play games for free. The free-to-play (F2P) scene is only growing with more and more developers providing high-quality games that need no upfront payment. So, you can easily try out a ton of games and only put down cash when you feel it’ll be worthwhile to improve your experience. Monetization innovations like the Battle Pass along with the increasing base of players who can pay means that even a lot of premium titles are switching their model and becoming free-to-play.
The emphasis on social gameplay makes these games far more immersive than traditional games. This is particularly important because many gamers play online games as an escape from real life. Since most of these games have clan based features, you can play and interact with a whole bunch of like-minded people you may never have had the chance to meet otherwise. Further, team-based games can create a sense of camaraderie and collective spirit that’s hard to rival, giving you the opportunity to be a real part of a community online.
If you are a deep thinker with a passion for planning, you’ll adore the latest strategy games. Popular subgenres include Massively Multiplayer Online Real-Time Strategy (MMORTS) games, which see you making decisions in real-time against other players. Another exciting subgenre is Turn-Based Strategy, where you basically play games in rounds. Whether it’s building and upskilling armies or creating civilizations from scratch, strategy games are some of the best free online games to play now as you must balance risk with reward in all aspects of your gameplay.
If you want games for free that have a lot of depth, you can’t go wrong with the role-playing genre. These games require you to invest in your characters for months and years, concentrating on leveling up their stats or getting better equipment to take on tougher challenges. The most popular subgenre today - Collection MMORPGs - take this to another level. In these games, you have to choose a team from hundreds of collectible characters. You have to be very careful to balance the team and upgrade it in order to be ready for PvP and PvE combat.
The best puzzle-based free games to play now are those that encourage you to get under the skin of the gameplay – and once you do, you’ll be richly rewarded. When you play puzzle games, learning how to crack codes or spot patterns can be as exhilarating as defeating rival clans in a strategy game. On the subject of clans, though, a growing number of puzzle-based titles are also beginning to incorporate cooperative clan-based features, whereby players can exchange in-game resources or get access to more events and rewards. Some games have even added PvP game modes, so you can now enjoy social gameplay in puzzle games as well.
This genre offers some of the most engaging free games to play now on PC or mobile. Escape into new virtual worlds that are rich in lore. The survival subgenre is a particularly popular one here, with free games set in the wild or in post-apocalyptic environments. The onus is on you to thrive in a “survival of the fittest” setting, scavenging resources and fighting off opponents to assert your right to live.
Whether it’s team-based or individual action, this genre offers intense experiences and thrilling challenges. Most people will recognize the major shooter games, which are usually First-Person Shooters (FPS) or Third-Person Shooter (TPS) games. It’s immense popularity means that you can easily play free games online without downloading. Recently, the Battle Royale subgenre has captured the imagination of millions that enjoy the fast paced nature and the thrill of competing against others. These games have become huge eSports hits, and they require you to fight it out against other players to be the last man standing.
Most free online games need no downloads and so they don’t infringe on precious storage space. They are also accessible instantly since you don’t have to wait for a download to finish. Further, many free games online have started providing cross-platform compatibility between Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS.
It’s now possible to play online games on your desktop and then continue the level where you left off on your mobile at a later time. This is something that many free online games with no downloads are starting to explore so that gamers don’t need to stop playing just because they have to leave the house.
With the rise of cloud gaming, it’s also possible to stream and play free online games on any device, including your TV. So, your gaming experience no longer has to be hampered due to screen size.
Since the monetization potential of the free-to-play model is only increasing, you’re definitely in for a promising few years ahead if you’re looking to try some new games for free.
To get you started, we have handpicked the best free online games to play. The games represent a number of genres so you should be able to identify something that matches your interests. Just scroll up, find what you like, and play now!