If you wanted to spend a great deal of money playing a game, you’d purchase a video game. When you simply want to spend a few leisurely hours playing point and click games, you want to visit free online game sites. Whether you love word games, logic games, or simply tile swapping games, there are a host of free online games that will meet your gaming needs without requiring you to pull out your credit card every time you want to play. 

When it comes to the world of browser gaming, online sites have proven to be an enduring home to some of the most creative games of all time. Offering users incalculable hours of free entertainment and young developers a free way to distribute their products, these gathering places bring together all those that love testing their wits and their skills. Including shooters, RPGs, puzzles and tower defenses, anyone that enjoys gaming can find something they love at any one of these top five sites.

1. Kongregate

With over 103,822 games currently, Kongregate is one of the most massive free online game sites in the US. In its infancy, it was merely a collection of free games. As it has grown, though, it has worked toward creating a community fueled by forums, awards and GameStop PowerUp rewards. Now, it has become the embodiment of one big game where users compete for daily bests in order to top the charts.

The games are separated into various categories where their user ranking out of five stars is prominently displayed. Though not all games have an award system, the most popular do. This browser gaming site further plays this up by putting badges into different groupings, such as Best of 2014 or Rarest Badges. User profiles also level up based on badges earned.

As for the games collected, Kongregate is great for featuring the most popular online games while still pulling in names that have far less recognition. This means combing the internet for developers that have yet to make a mark for themselves. To promote the community, developers can choose to partner with Kongregate in order to get their game out to the community at large. To pay these developers, the site shares revenue by way of virtual goods, ad revenue and a potential partner program that only becomes active should the game prove to be very successful. They are also happy to work with those that develop payment-enabled titles.

2. Newgrounds

With the tagline, “everything, by everyone,” it should come as no surprise that this site has been and will forever be the hub of every single online game in existence. Founded in 1995, it has grown into a diverse browser gaming site where most developers get their start. Users can earn medals for in game achievements, but these are more for show than for any competitive purpose. Instead, user power is based on interactions with the community at large through rating the various posts and otherwise interacting with requests mods put out.

The most striking difference that sets Newgrounds apart from other free online game sites is the fact that it doesn’t feature just games. In fact, it takes submissions for movies, audio and art. Then, should there be collections and series, these groupings are placed into their own section. It is a unique set up that has worked to foster a collaborative community where the best new creations emerge alongside the worst. Even so, this roulette of finding either the good or the bad has kept the site growing and thriving throughout the years as users enjoy their time there before maturing and moving on to different games. Newgrounds will always have a fond place in the hearts of new and old gamers alike.

3. 1980 Games

Just because the arcade era is dead doesn’t mean its games are. In fact, there is a place on the internet where every game from the 1980s has been preserved and posted for everyone to play for free. No longer do you feed quarters to machines. Instead, you pay with hours of your life.

The site itself is extremely low-key, acting as only a holding place for these games. Along the top and down the side menu are the various genres and categories for the games. However, don’t be fooled by the games on the front page. Click any of the top menu choices and you’ll be met with an entire list of completely different games that fit the category. Though the homepage would have you believe it’s just a browser gaming site for classic arcade games, this couldn’t be further from the truth. It is a true collection of everything from the ‘80s, including old computer games. Minesweeper, Pac-Man, and even Castlevania can be played through this site.

In short, 1980 Games is the perfect site for those that enjoy retro gaming. With a clean design hearkening back to the days of dial up, it really is a treasure as it preserves the legacy so many of us can forget as we push through the newer titles.

4. Addicting Games

A part of Defy Media, Addicting Games claims to be the largest online US game site, reaching over 10 million unique users monthly as reported to them by comScore. While not a site that fills a niche like the previous three sites, it nevertheless is an incredibly clean, well-organized site that gives free online game sites a good name to those just getting into browser gaming. The most popular games are feature prominently while recent game reviews populate a nearby menu. Though there is a community, it is not a community-oriented site.

That being said, its strength lies in that very fact. Because it doesn’t try and fill up its homepage with various user tags, it is able to keep clutter down to an absolute minimum. Such a feat is virtually unheard of when it comes to browser gaming sites, yet Addicting Games pulls it off spectacularly. It even manages to somehow organize all of the games in a way that is easy to navigate. This is also helped by the fact that submitted games first undergo judgment by the site’s staff. This is to ensure continued quality and an upheld standard that many other sites either don’t care to have or can’t quite reach.

5. Armor Games

Originally known as Games of Gondor, Armor Games became famous among browser gamers for their logo appearing at the start of virtually every popular browser game during the 90s and early 2000s. Since then, they’ve met some competition but nevertheless have maintained a prominence in the community.

Like Addicting Games, Armor Games strives to keep their site simple and easy to navigate as many of their games draw in a casual crowd. The artwork for the games is beautifully done and kept to very small boxes so that there’s enough room to fit the title, rating, how many awards players can earn and how many people have played it. Unfortunately, some free games aren’t open to the public, requiring users to create an account before playing. That being said, this applies mainly to the MMOs where data saved to an account is vital for continued play.

Apart from this, Armor Games is simply an all-around solid gaming site. Users can be a part of the community and go after quests if they want but such a goal is more of an afterthought to than a main component of the site. All games are looked over by site staff so quality is assured, and the ease in which games can be searched makes it ideal for those just getting into the browser gaming world.