In the early 2010s, free online Flash game sites were massively popular. Collections of hundreds of games all free, maintained by ads typically displayed as banners around the games. These games ran on Adobe Flash, a program no longer supported by the major internet browsers like Chrome and Edge. While the sites figured out how to preserve these games for play still, the staggering amount of ads these sites stuffed into any given page remind me more of mobile games than my nostalgia for these sites themselves.
Take AddictingGames.com for example. A decade ago I would have played games on this site for hours at a time. Nowadays I have an adblocker, but going onto this site shows me over 80 ads being blocked on one page and that number grows exponentially the longer you stay. Even then, there’s still a banner ad and 3 in-page ads that all load before your game does.
Can I blame the site for trying to make money? No, but now it’s at the point that 30% of the screen is ads and I can’t help but feel that this isn’t a games site, it’s an ad page with games next to it.
Conversely, smaller sites like Plays.org are solely maintained for the purpose of playing games. It makes me feel like I’m back in sixth grade, hunched over a laptop struggling with a trackpad to play games designed for a mouse.
Plays.org was designed with no ads, just games. There is a large collection of games, and sure, many are proof-of-concept quality. But it also leads to exciting finds when you come across a game you really like. This feeling of bouncing around the site looking for the best things to play is exactly the feeling missing from the bigger sites, where the best/most popular games are presented front and center, leaving little room for hidden gems.
Many of these games benefit from their extremely low-budget concepts. Most have between 10 to 30 levels, and can be completed within 15 minutes. The perfect time-killers offer enough ideas for their length, and many have score systems to incentivize repeated play. Cannon Minimal is one of my favorites. There’s no score difference on how many tries it takes you to get the cannonball in the basket, but I always feel I can improve.
The cream of the crop take classic games and adds twists to keep them fresh in the modern era. BreakOut, Tetris and others are remade with small twists to keep them fresh. These are the safer bets for finding a game you know you’ll like, if you’re not up for searching the wide collection.
Plays.org gets updates daily, with new games coming constantly. Some games are very similar to popular mobile games like Angry Birds, but again, the beauty of this site is exploring the catalog. It’s a completely free collection of web games with zero ads, since the founder solely wanted to focus on the fun of play and not the revenue. While the collection there is smaller than the bigger sites, the spirit of Flash game sites of old live in the simple pleasures of a site like this.
Jeremy Brown is a resume writer based out of Chicago, IL. For a free consultation email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (312) 368-8888.