Free-to-play games aren’t exactly a new phenomenon on the App Store, but it felt like the balance of power really shifted away from premium affairs in 2013, with a much larger chunk of the notable new releases each week favoring the freebie model — even those from developers that had seemingly thrived with paid games in the past. While there’s still plenty of grating, energy-limiting, and paywall-inhibiting junk in the free mix each week, the surge of noted creators embracing the model means that there’s also quality to be found. Here are our picks for the 25 best free games released in 2013 for iPhone and/or iPad, which cumulatively deliver loads of entertainment without demanding a dime in return.
It's easy to write off 2013 as a year without any real design innovations. The first great smartwatch is going to have to wait till next year — sorry, Samsung and Pebble — and we didn't get a new Apple product that wasn't a riff on a previous one. And Google didn't make any headway with Glass.
But it wasn't a lost year by any stretch. We might not look back on 2013 as the watershed year that 2007 was, but even without a big bang, there were a number of advancements that made us look, touch and think just a little different.