Android apps are now a fixture on Chrome OS and Chromebooks, but they don’t all run as smoothly as you might hope—and that includes games. If you’re looking for gaming experiences that work well on a bigger screen, run without a hitch, and even offer keyboard and trackpad support (in some cases), then these are the best games we’ve found for playing on a Chromebook.
1. Game Dev Tycoon ($5)
Play a game about developing games—why not? Game Dev Tycoon takes the tried and trusted tycoon sim format and applies it to the scenario of an up-and-coming software studio. Your job is to allocate resources and finances, as well as come up with the best ideas, to successfully move from your garage up to an office building as your company expands.
There are a few nice touches of humor in the game and plenty of variety in the visuals and gameplay to keep you interested over a long gaming session on your Chromebook. Game Dev Tycoon is also a game that will give you a different experience every time you play it. Having originally started out on Windows, it adapts perfectly to Chrome OS-powered laptops.
2. Alto’s Odyssey (freemium)
Like Alto’s Adventure before it, Alto’s Odyssey is one of the best endless runner games to ever appear on mobile devices, and the gorgeous graphics, immersive sounds, and simple control system all translate really well to Chromebooks. We can’t be held responsible if you spend more time immersed in this scrolling virtual world than you really should.
If you’ve never played an Alto game before, here’s what to expect: You’re essentially sliding down a hill, avoiding obstacles, performing tricks, picking up points and bonuses, and so on. What makes Alto’s Odyssey much better than that brief outline makes it sound is the care and attention that’s gone into the aesthetics of the game, and the diversity of the various environments.
3. Animal Super Squad ($5)
Animal Super Squad is a whole lot of fun whatever platform you play it on, an that includes Chromebooks (support for keyboard controls is included). It’s a classic side-scrolling platformer game, but with a host of ingenious physics-based puzzles that you need to solve, Angry Birds-style, in order to progress.
The graphics are simple but very effective, and the speed and variety of the levels means you won’t have a chance to get bored. It’s obvious that a great deal of care and attention (and plenty of tongue-in-cheek humor) has gone into Animal Super Squad—it’s actually like playing five games in one—and we wholeheartedly recommend you play it.
4. Asphalt 9: Legends (freemium)
Asphalt 9 is one of the best racing games on Android no matter what device you’re using, and on Chromebooks it makes use of the extra screen space very well. Even better, the touch controls get automatically remapped to the keyboard, so you don’t have to be tapping the screen as you’re zooming around the various landscapes.
If you’re new to the Asphalt racing series, the emphasis is on high-speed stunts and collecting as many points as possible, rather than careful or skillful driving, and the simple set of gameplay mechanics makes it an obvious choice for trying out on Chrome OS. It’s also free to get started, so you only have to pay for upgrades you really want and need.
5. Thimbleweed Park ($10)
What better way to make use of a keyboard and trackpad than with a good old-fashioned point-and-click adventure? Thimbleweed Park has got heritage behind it, too: It’s been developed by Ron Gilbert and Gary Winnick, the creative geniuses responsible for such classic PC point-and-clickers as Monkey Island and Maniac Mansion.
Thimbleweed Park isn’t cheap, as far as games go, but you will get plenty of value from it as you investigate a mystery set in the eponymous location. Expect dead bodies, government conspiracies, dark and murky locations, and the occasional clown, as well as the sort of humor and attention to detail that Gilbert and Winnick’s previous games were known for.
6. #Drive (freemium)
Not all racing and driving games play that well on Chromebooks, but #Drive is one that does. Take to the open (and endless) road and push your car and its gas tank to the limit, trying to avoid other vehicles, the cops, and a variety of additional obstacles along the way. It’s smart and slick and a lot of fun to play through.
As with all the best games on mobile, #Drive combines a simple gameplay mechanic with some top-notch graphics and sound effects, and there are enough environments and vehicles here to ensure that you can spend many hours in the world of #Drive. You will need to use the touchscreen rather than the keyboard, but it’s all intuitive enough.
7. Fallout Shelter (freemium)
This was a smash hit on Android and one that translates well to Chromebooks, too, not least because you’ve got a lot more space to see everything. Your challenge is to keep all of your sheltering human beings alive, balancing the need to produce resources with the requirements of keeping everyone happy and the lights on in your underground bunker.
Clicking and dragging with the touchpad is a little more precise than trying to jab around with a finger, and the keyboard of course comes in handy whenever you’ve got any text to input. The deeper you go into the game the more engaging it gets, and even if you’ve already played this on your smartphone, it’s worth another look on a Chromebook.
8. Mars (freemium)
Engaging gameplay, stylish graphics, a wealth of locations to explore, and a variety of characters to play as—it’s hard to find anything to dislike about Mars, which is a physics-based platformer that sends you on a mission across the surface of the Red Planet. It’s not a very complex game, but it’s perfect for dipping into for a few minutes.
The aim of the game is to make it between refueling platforms without crashing—it’s a bit like Flappy Bird but far less annoying and much better to look at. Various boosts and power-ups are available along the way, and if you make it far enough, you’ll have more than 60 different explorers to choose from, each with their own style and characteristics.
9. Anything on Google Stadia (prices vary)
One of the benefits of a game-streaming service is that you don’t need particularly powerful hardware to run top-tier games—just a reliable broadband connection. Officially, Google Stadia will work on any Chromebook (and on any computer with Chrome installed), though the newer the Chromebook the better your experience will be.
Log into Stadia in a browser tab and away you go. One advantage of taking a Chromebook approach to Stadia is that you can use a keyboard and mouse, or the official Stadia controller (any title you’re playing will let you customize the controls as required). Games can be claimed as part of a Stadia Pro subscription, or purchased directly from Google.