Have you ever heard of free online match 3 games? Taking a classic genre and filling it with fantastic features, these modern free matching games are perfect for players of all persuasions. To get the most from what they have to offer, you need to know the basics, so here’s a guide to match 3.
You may have grown up playing puzzle and logic games. Match 3 games are the modern-day equivalent of these. They are engaging, enjoyable and challenging by design, as they combine strategy, skill, logic, and timing.
The basic premise of any match 3 game is to match symbols or icons. These symbols are often represented by tiles, shapes, or gems, but the items you have to match could be anything. For example, you might have to match items of food or cards. Whatever the object is, the premise remains the same: match three or more identical items.
Modern matching games can trace their roots back to the 80s with two influential games - one that had falling blocks that disappeared when you linked them to make a line, and one that needed you to clear the board by clicking on groups of adjoining blocks with the same color. In the late 80s, games blended the block dropping mechanic with the tile removal one.
1994 saw the introduction of bubble popping mechanics with players having to shoot colored bubbles to create groups of bubbles with the same color. Today’s match three games have taken these concepts and built on them.
Matching games online today have incorporated other video-game elements into the classic dynamic. The act of matching symbols remains the same, but you’re not simply making matches for the sake of it. In modern match 3 games, combinations can unlock special items or earn you points.
Today, match 3 games online fall into four main sub-genres:
One of the original and, in many ways, still the most popular form of premium and free match 3 games involves swapping. In these games, you have to swap the position of two symbols in order to line up three or more matches. 59% of the top-grossing match three games online fall into this category.
Also known as collapse match 3 games, these offerings require you to tap three or more matching symbols that are next to each other. Once you’ve tapped a match, those symbols will disappear and new ones will replace them.
Shooters are among the most dynamic match three games online. To line up matching symbols, you have to shoot objects (usually bubbles) at a structure filled with symbols. The object you’re firing will correspond with the symbols on the board. Once you connect three or more symbols through your shots, they disappear. The aim is to clear the board and move onto the next level.
These games require you to draw lines from an object to other objects on a gameboard. If the lines you draw link three or more matching symbols, you’ll clear those symbols and pick up points.
The simple answer to that is yes, of course they are. Anyone can play match 3 games free online. However, it’s also true that you can get more out of these games if you have certain traits and preferences. If any of the following qualities sound like you, then you’re probably well-suited to match 3:
The majority of match three games online have a limited number of moves while others might have a limited amount of time to make combinations. Whatever the restriction, you’ll have to put your thinking cap on to get through some of the challenging levels.
Observation is perhaps the biggest skill you need when it comes to match 3. The more patterns you can see, the better your chances of making matches. It really helps to think a few moves ahead - like a chess player. You can create a plan of attack by spotting potential patterns and how tiles will move when others disappear. This is crucial when you play free matching games with move restrictions.
All match 3 games are fast-paced. There’s never a moment to rest because you’re trying to score as many points as possible as fast as possible. Metagame elements, such as building a town, may allow you to regroup but when playing levels, it’s always a race to match 3 symbols before your moves run out.
Research shows that playing matching games online can actually be good for your brain. Studies have found that match 3 and puzzle games can improve executive functions. These are the processes you need to make decisions in real life, particularly when the environment or situation changes. In layman’s terms, it's the process of thinking on your feet.
Studies have shown that match 3 players can be quicker at switching tasks and faster at adapting to new situations. They can also be more adept at blocking distractions and, therefore, better at focusing on the task in front of them.
The evidence that these titles can improve certain brain functions might suggest that non-gamers can play match 3 games online to boost their decision-making skills. Playing free match 3 games can also improve a person’s ability to track multiple objects in short periods of time, which can be useful for tasks such as driving.
The tough competition in this space has inspired developers to add new gaming elements to the match 3 games mix. Today, you have the chance to explore exotic worlds, level up, unlock special powers, and build things in match 3 games. Social gaming features such as exchanging resources, accessing group-based events, and connecting with friends have also been introduced in modern match 3 games.
A lot of developers have focussed on making the metagame more engaging. The metagame, if you’re not aware, consists of what you do outside the core gameplay. Some of the more popular types of metagames in match threes are:
Building: Around 31% of puzzle games now have some type of construction element to them. The main premise here is that completing puzzles unlocks resources that can be used to build something. The overarching aim is to build a thriving environment (whatever the context) by completing as many puzzles as you can.
Narratives: Often combined with the building-themed metagame is a narrative. By developing an overarching story, developers give you more reason to complete levels. For example, you may be on a quest to discover some type of lost treasure or find new islands. Each time you complete a puzzle, it moves you along another step in this quest.
Character Collection & Development: This is another popular metagame. The process of matching and earning points is linked to the characters you unlock and their levelling up. The more puzzles you complete, the more points you score and the more you improve your collection.
In addition to metagames, match 3 games online are innovating with new mechanics. This can be a combination of two sub-genres, e.g. popping symbols by drawing lines and linking them, or it could be a completely new concept of the board with constantly moving puzzle pieces instead of static ones. The main point to note here is that match 3 games are always evolving to give you more fun options.
The evolution of match 3 games means that you can enjoy a variety of experiences. From farms and tropical islands to fantasy worlds and character collection, there are plenty of things to do in these games today.
Further, they are now available on all devices. It doesn’t matter if you want to play on your PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad, or Android, we’ve got you covered. With the growth of free match 3 games, there really is something for everyone to enjoy!