Like with anything, quality comes at a price. The best smartphone games usually charge a few bucks. And quickly, those bills can add up. But in some cases, after a while, developers offer those games for free to anyone. Here’s the cream of crop.
All of the games here work on both Android and iOS, and are now free for life—not for a limited period. “Free” still means some sacrifices sometimes, like ads or limited plays, but you still get a full game without having to pay a dime for it.
While these games are now free to download and play, they might still have in-app purchases. Children can end up abusing these, as Kanye West recently discovered, so it might be wise to disable in-app purchases entirely before you get these games for your kid. And it might help you avoid accidentally spending money, too.
Modern Combat 5: Blackout
Arguably the finest first-person shooter for phones and tablets, Modern Combat 5 is completely free. While you can buy stuff in-app, you really don’t need to—you can play and enjoy the game without spending a dime. The Modern Combat series is inspired by the Call Of Duty games, and its graphics are known to push your phone to the limit. By keeping missions short, the game never feels repetitive; and for the grand price of free, you won’t feel let down by its relatively short length either.
Download: Modern Combat 5: Blackout for iOS [Free]
Download: Modern Combat 5: Blackout for Android [Free]
Super Stickman Golf 2
Super Stickman Golf 2 is one of those games that is easy to pick up and play at any time, and is challenging enough to keep you hooked. The physics engine of the game is its highlight, as you try and hit the ball perfectly to land it in the hole—but speed, wind, the type of ball, and sometimes even the lack of gravity end up being your enemy. You’ll need to hit it just right to get under par. And the next time, you can try to beat your own best! It’s never-ending fun.
Download: Super Stickman Golf 2 for iOS [Free]
Download: Super Stickman Golf 2 for Android [Free]
It’s been years since N.O.V.A. 3 first came out. Heck, it was one of our picks for the best iPad games of 2012! The game stands out for its gorgeous graphics, epic shoot-’em-up action, and some cool teamwork in a few stages. But while it still costs a cool $4.99, there’s now a N.O.V.A. 3: Freedom Edition which is basically the same game, but only with a few ads. At least there are no in-app purchases in this game, which is a relief.
Download: N.O.V.A. 3: Freedom Edition for iOS [Free]
Download: N.O.V.A. 3: Freedom Edition for Android [Free]
Threes! might just be the most addictive puzzle game ever made. The concept was stolen by the 2048 game, but the original Threes is far, far better in every aspect. The game is tougher and makes you think more; the animations are smooth and lovely; and it has a little bit of humor thrown in, which adds to its charm. The best part about Threes! is how active the community still is. Recently, Jason Schreier threw down an open challenge to anyone who can beat his record 560,439 with an insane 6144 tile. Think you can do better?
Download: Threes! for iOS [Free]
Download: Threes! for Android [Free]
Cut The Rope
After releasing the cuter, harder and better Cut The Rope 2, Zepto Labs had no reason to ask people to pay for the first megahit. So Cut The Rope and its add-ons, Experiments and Time Travel, are all free now. The puzzle game’s idea is simple: You need to obey the laws of physics and swipe to cut ropes so that the candy makes its way to the mouth of the adorable critter known as Om Nom. But within this simplistic plot lies a fiendish contraption of ropes that will drive you nuts trying to figure out the solution.
Download: Cut The Rope for iOS [Free]
Download: Cut The Rope: Experiments for iOS [Free]
Download: Cut The Rope: Time Travel for iOS [Free]
Download: Cut The Rope for Android [Free]
Download: Cut The Rope: Experiments for Android [Free]
Download: Cut The Rope: Time Travel for Android [Free]
Fruit Ninja was one of the first major hits on smartphones, as it really brought the touchscreen to life. Fruits are thrown into the air, and you have to swipe your finger across them to cut them up. Don’t miss any before they fall to the ground, and make sure you don’t cut any bombs by accident or it’s game over. Try to cut the fruits in as few swipes as possible to get bonuses. It’s one of the most addictive games ever, and pretty soon, you’ll find yourself obsessing over how to beat your record.
Download: Fruit Ninja for iOS [Free]
Download: Fruit Ninja for Android [Free]
Even though it cost just a single dollar, Bonza made it to our list of last-minute iPhone and iPad gift apps in 2014. Now that it’s free, there is really no reason for you to ignore this game. Bonza is a new take on the crossword puzzle. The game throws a few words your way, in horizontal or vertical blocks. Your job is to stick them all together into one piece where every letter makes sense. It’s a whole lot of fun, especially if you love your word games.
Download: Bonza for iOS [Free]
Download: Bonza for Android [Free]
Sick of asking your Facebook friends for extra lives on Candy Crush? Bejeweled invented the three-in-a-row game long before Candy Crush, and it’s now completely free to play. It’s the same basics—you connect three similar stones to make them disappear from the grid, as more come in all the time. Connect more than three and you’ll get special stones with various abilities. Oh yeah, and you can even play it for free in your PC browser. And if you feel like upping the stakes, try the one-minute challenge of Bejeweled Blitz!
Download: Bejeweled for iOS [Free]
Download: Bejeweled for Android [Free]
Download: Bejeweled Blitz for iOS [Free]
Download: Bejeweled Blitz for Android [Free]
Know Any Cool Paid Games That Have Gone Free?
We’re always on the lookout for more great games that we can get for free. If you know of any paid games that have gone free, temporarily or permanently, share a link in the comments!