Chromebook is looking more and more like a perfectly decent gaming machine, even though just a few years ago you’d have been laughed out the room for saying so. With increasing support for Android apps via the Play Store, and growing support for native Linux software too, the list of Chromebook games you can play is getting better and better.
In other big news on the Chromebook gaming front, Google recently announced Stadia, its game-streaming platform which will make all the biggest games available via streaming. And yes, Google has confirmed that Stadia is coming to Chromebook, which – if you pardon the pun – will change the game entirely.
But in the meantime, we’ve created a list of games you can play on your Chromebook right now – some browser-based, some Android games, as well as those in the form of Chrome extensions.
1. Alto’s Odyssey
The sequel to Alto’s Adventure is one of the most mesmerising and artistically accomplished games on Android. It’s also among the Android games that are most universally compatible on Chromebook.
You glide on a board across all kinds of desert landscapes, with mysterious cities and ancient rock formations rising in the background. It has its share of challenge, but it’s also a serene experience that’s perfect to bliss out into on a lazy weekend afternoon.
2. PUBG Mobile
Unlike most of the other games on this list, playing the Android version of the legendary battle royale game on Chromebook comes with some caveats. First of all, you need to have an Intel CPU inside your Chromebook.
Secondly, how well PUBG Mobile runs on Chromebook depends heavily on your device. Users of Google Pixelbooks have reported that it runs reasonably well, as have those on higher-end Chromebooks. Over at Laptopmag, one of their writers even got it running reasonably well on an obscure low-end Teqnio Chromebook.
If you do manage to get PUBG Mobile running, you’re in for a world of tough old fun, as you duke it out against 99 other players to be the last man standing. It’s stark, intense, and incredibly compelling.
3. Baldur’s Gate 2: Enhanced Edition
The ever-increasing support of Android apps on Chrome OS means that we’re becoming more and more comfortable in recommending Play Store games for Chromebook. Not all games work perfectly (many don’t, in fact), but one of the titles that’s been confirmed to work seamlessly across multiple Chromebook devices is this classic RPG.
Beamdog’s port of Baldur’s Gate 2 retains everything from the original games, and is bolstered by HD resolutions. It’s an old-school RPG set in a beautiful pre-rendered world, and sees you control a party of heroes, taking on quests, and engaging in deep D&D-style combat. It’s one of the seminal games of its time, with excellent, colorful writing and an immersive world that laid the path for today’s RPGs.
While we’re at it, you can also other Black Isle Studio games Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition, Icewind Dale and Planescape: Torment from the Play Store. All work swimmingly on most compatible Chromebooks (if they don’t just take advantage of the Play Store’s two-hour refund window).
A lot on this list will focus on games you can play through your browser, but there are some gems in the Chrome Web Store too. Entanglement is one of them, a hexagonal puzzle game that you can play via Hot Seat with up to five people.
The game is about making your stringy line longer than anyone else’s, keeping it tangling around within the board without hitting a wall. Think of it like a turn-based, multiplayer take on Snake, though the “Solitaire” single-player mode is also gripping, as you can compete for a spot on the online leaderboards.
Gaming minimalism in its finest form. Agar.io doesn’t look like much – a smattering of primary-colored circles floating around on what appears to be a sheet of graph paper. Start playing, however, and it’s a viciously compelling online battle for survival.
You control a circle, guiding it around a large plain expanse in a bid to consume circles of a smaller size (controlled by other players) while avoiding being munched by circles bigger than yourself. That’s it. You can cough up some money for in-game skins and so on, but the game can just as easily be enjoyed for free, so give it a try.
6. Fallout Shelter
A lot of Chromebooks now feature support for Play Store apps and Play Store games, so we’ve decided to start introducing games to our list that are proven to be playable on Chromebooks this way. If you need help with this, you can read our guide on how to install Android apps on your Chromebook.
One of the best options on this front is Fallout Shelter, the side-on spinoff of the main Fallout series which tasks you with building and managing a nuclear bunker in that game world. It plays great and looks wonderful using those distinctive 50s-style cartoon graphics players will recognize from the Pip-Boy.
7. FTL: Faster Than Light
One of the best indie games to emerge on PC can actually be played on your Chromebook if you get the Humble Store version and play it via the Humble Web Player. (As with Super Hexagon, you can try the demo first.) FTL tasks you with keeping the crew members of a spaceship alive as they traverse the cosmos. It’s a permadeath game, so once you lose, you lose a member for good, but that won’t stop you from coming back for more.
Clash of Clans meets Civilization in this complex-looking, but surprisingly accessible, online strategy game. The goal in Dominus is to expand your dominion by conquering rival players and gathering resources from the randomly-generated terrain. If you fantasize about being an expansionist feudal lord but don’t want to deal with the complexity of deeper strategy games, then give this one a look.
Is it safe to assume you’ve all heard of this one? One of the first true 3D first-person shooters continues to be revered today for its simple, speedy gameplay and timeless multiplayer option. The good news is that this fan-made ChromeOS version has all of that including multiplayer. It’s amazing how satisfying it still is to glide around Quake’s murky corridors decimating grunts into lumpy polygonal giblets.
One of the better-rated games on ChromeOS, this isometric hack-&-slasher does a fairly good impression of a Diablo game – loot, kill, level up, loot some more. Sure, it obviously doesn’t have the gloss of Blizzard’s classic dungeon crawler, but for a ChromeOS freebie you really can’t complain. It has multiplayer, too!
Spelunky is, in my eyes, a necessity in everyone’s game collection. The permadeath, randomly-generated mineshaft crawler is a goldmine of unexpected events, crazy mishaps and hilarious situations as you work your way towards stealing the fabled treasure. This is based on the less-pretty 2008 version and not the more recent remake, but the systems and mechanics are all there.
12. Democracy 3
Another game that can be played on your browser through the Humble Store is Cliff Harris’ Democracy 3. Played through an interconnected web of bubbles representing various government policies and social issues, it’s a simple-looking game that tasks you with running your own country. So if think you can do a better job than Donald Trump, give it a try.
There’s a trend for digital card games at the moment, and Duelyst is among the best of them. You can play the official browser-based version for free. Matches take place on a rectangular grid with each player using their decks of minions, spells, artefacts and generals to try and outwit their opponent.
14. Town of Salem
Ever played the party game Mafia after a couple of bottles of wine at a dinner party? The browser-based Town of Salem is much along the same lines, and you don’t need to be inebriated to have fun with it. Play with a whole bunch of players online and try to work out who’s killing locals at night. (Or if you’re the killer, try not to get caught.) Devilishly deceitful.
The Chromebook isn’t your typical gaming machine, but with a growing number of games becoming available in browser-based form and the ability to use Android apps and games coming soon, it’s slowly coming into its own. Are you a Chromebook gamer? What are your picks?
This article was first published in April 2017 and was updated in August 2019.