Whether you’re a casual or hardcore gamer, in-browser games offer something unique for all types of players. These innovative titles range from laid-back mini-games to fully involved adventures, and they have a very limited barrier to entry. As long as you have an internet connection and a compatible web browser, you can start playing.
Find out which of these games are essential to play this year with our list of the best in-browser games.
What is an in-browser game?
In-browser games are games you can play in your web browsers, such as Microsoft Edge or Google Chrome. In most cases, you don’t need to download any additional software or a program to play. However, some games may require a script or applet for smooth gameplay.
We recommend updating your browser to the most recent version to ensure the best experience. And if you use a lesser-known browser, it may not be compatible with these games.
Free to play
Many of the best web games are free to play, so if you have a computer and internet connection, you are ready to go. They may require account registration to save your progress or earn perks. They may also feature optional in-game purchases for real money, but don’t feel obligated to spend unless you want to.
Best in-browser games
How did we choose our list of free browser games? We considered originality, playability, and overall enjoyment when choosing the titles that made the grade.
Of course, your own experience will vary. The good news is that most developers have made other games, so if you don’t like one of these, you can always try one of their other offerings.
1. Little Big Snake
Best for: Casual gamers who enjoy nature and collaborating with friends.
In the massive multiplayer browser game Little Big Snake, you are a legless creature weaving your way through a world filled with other snakes and bugs. Fight against enemies and eat nectar to advance your level and hopefully become the grandest animal of all, the ultimate Little Big Snake.
The neat sound effects, rewards, and unique food sources (like slugs and bubbles) keep the game interesting. Even death is unique in this Addicting Games title because you turn into a flying creature when you lose!
Little Big Snake is also available as an iOS and Android mobile game.
2. Catan Universe
Best for: Catan lovers because it uses the same rules. It also appeals to anyone who enjoys civilization-building games.
Catan Universe brings the wildly popular Catan board game to your browser. Even better, it's a cross-platform game, so you can play it with your friends through Steam, Amazon, iOS, and Android. It actually became so popular the pandemic that the game servers had a hard time keeping up.
What makes it such a good browser game? Like the original board game, Catan Universe involves a lot of strategy as you use trading and building techniques to ensure the success of your settlements. Collaboration is important, too, because you’ll need to work with friends to gather resources and avoid attacks.
Catan Universe allows for gameplay customization and offers some neat expansion packs for an additional charge (including dragons!). You can even play in an “offline mode” to square off against an AI opponent.
3. Prosperous Universe
Best for: Anyone who enjoys calculating your economic status or cooperating space games.
Have you ever wanted to build a colony in space? If so, Prosperous Universe is the in-browser video game for you. It tasks players with forming their own companies in mining, food supply, or anything else needed in the universe.
The game doesn’t have player vs. player (PvP) functionality, but it requires you to cooperate with others to exist in an expanding world. As you grow, you’ll create political factions, barter, negotiate, and even make deals with competitors so you can both get ahead or generate passive income.
With more than 4,000 planets in 600 star systems and thousands of players online, Prosperous Universe is massively popular. It’s also free to start but includes premium features you must pay for to enjoy more immersive play. It’s often referred to as “spreadsheets in space” by its fans because this game is low on graphics and cinematic scenes but high on possibilities.
4. Forge of Empires
Best for: Strategy fans who want to be part of an active, long-standing community.
This map-based strategy game has been around since 2012, when InnoGames began to use ads to entice players to join. It worked because Forge of Empires is considered one of the most successful browser-based games. It has a large, active community that helps to make it exciting.
In the game, you settle your people around 5000 B.C. with just tents and a few supplies. As you progress through the decades conquering nearby settlements, you’ll grow your base and, eventually, your empire. Battles occur through turn-based, hexagonal face-offs where you send your troops to fight toward victory.
5. Sort the Court
Best for: Casual players, but the simple quirky art style and quick gameplay will capture anyone’s attention.
This online web game requires little to no skill but it still remains captivating. In Sort the Court, you choose between playing as a king or queen. But those aren’t the only decisions you have to make, because the entire game is actually just a series of decisions. Various creatures and people petition the throne, and you then must answer yes or no.
Your decisions cause happiness to go up or down, wealth to grow or decline, and population fluctuations. Balancing it all is more challenging than it seems, and the charming design keeps you engaged.
Best for: Anyone curious about the physics of movement and robotics.
Evolution is a graphics-light game that challenges you to build organisms in a point-and-click environment. Create your own creature with bones, muscles, and joints, then watch as it learns how to traverse the environment with artificial intelligence.
The main tasks are running, climbing, and jumping. However, you can also see which of your “evolutions” perform the best after you adjust modifiers like mutation rate and speed.
Best for: Young players and those who have just a bit of time to spare.
Agar is a very simple game where you only use your mouse, space bar, and the W key. In this title, you play as an all-consuming agar and can choose your skin. You’ll eat or be eaten, split, and shoot out matter to survive.
You can choose between multiple game modes, and gameplay is always free. Play as part of a team or dig into the experimental mode. This is a classic browser game worth enjoying for a few minutes here and there.
Best for: Nostalgic gamers who enjoy quests.
In Isleward, you start by choosing between 3 classes: thief, warrior, or wizard. You then appear on the shore of an island where you must attack pesky seagulls to gather precious gear.
Fight other players if you wish and store your gear if you're afraid of losing it. You can also fight bosses and take quests in this top-down, pixel-art action role-playing game (ARPG).
This open-source and moddable game requires an account and login to play, but it’s worth the few minutes to sign up before diving into Isleward.
9. Line Rider
Best for: Anyone who loves a good physics game.
Line Rider is a fun and simple physics engine that allows you to make courses for your sleigh. Draw simple or extravagant hills by using your mouse. Push play to see how your sleigh does. Then, erase or redraw to get the results you want.
This single-player game is oddly addictive and loads of fun, and it’s also one of the easiest games to learn and start playing. It has a large community of players, too, who share their Line Rider videos to create new video projects with music and additional illustrations.
10. A Dark Room
Best for: Anyone who enjoys mysteries or avant-garde gameplay.
If you like your fun browser games a little creepy (and simple), A Dark Room is for you. In this text-only title, you wake up in a cold, dark room – and you can hear howling in the distance.
See if you can tend to the fire to brighten your future as you expand your single house into a village. Send your scouts to explore the surroundings, and craft weapons to fight against the evils of the night in this mysterious sci-fi, story-driven clicker.
This RPG has no visuals. Instead, it’s an unfolding story that you have to read through to enjoy, and it pulls you in with its unique form and mysterious prose.
In-browser games are a nice change of pace from traditional titles that require gaming PCs, consoles, accessories, or subscription plans. The best web browser games are typically easy to start playing and serve as a source of entertainment as long as you have an internet connection.
With the wide variety of great games available today, it’s never been a better time to discover the world of in-browser games. Just be sure to go to the official site for games, and avoid clicking on any ads that appear questionable.
About the Author: Linsey Knerl is a contributing writer for HP Tech Takes. Linsey is a Midwest-based author, public speaker, and member of the ASJA. She has a passion for helping consumers and small business owners do more with their resources via the latest tech solutions.