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.
We said it the last time we did one of these, but it bears repeating: Mac gaming is getting better by the year, with big AAA-style games making the leap from PC and consoles much more quickly, and indies embracing the platform more readily than ever. We’ve got a great mix of both on our list of The 10 Best Mac Games of 2013, with glossy first-person experiences, utterly charming 2D titles, and even a couple of late ports of no-doubt classics that we’d been dying to play on Mac. If you’re looking for the most memorable games that the Mac has had to offer in recent months, then there’s no better place to start than here.
It’s been another exciting year for iOS games, with 2013 offering an amazing set of intriguing and innovative indie games, stellar sequels and pristine ports from other platforms, and increasingly blurred barriers between the worlds of free and premium games — a good thing, in this case. And we ramped up our coverage in response to the ever-growing flow of new iOS games, reviewing more than 200 games over the last 12 months. Picking just 25 of those to spotlight as the cream of the crop was a challenge, but we’re pleased to present our picks for the best iOS games of 2013.