While gaming phones are picking up steam, there’s often no better gaming phone to buy than the iPhone. With more than a million iPhone apps available in the App Store, the gaming options on the iPhone are nearly limitless. But finding the best iPhone games isn’t always easy. Not every app in Apple’s massive game library is worth $1 — or your time, for that matter.
Luckily for you, we’ve taken on the burden of sorting through the heaving sea of game apps to bring you some of the best iPhone games. So, whether you’re looking for a casual match 3 game, a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG), or a battle royale, take a look at our list of the best games you’ll find on your iOS device. They’ll even work on an iPad (but don’t let anyone know we told you).
Most of these games should work on any iPhone running iOS 14, which includes phones all the way down to the iPhone 6S. Subscribers to Apple’s library of games — which we think contains enough gems to justify the price of membership — should check out our picks of the best Apple Arcade games. For more ideas, check out the best Android games, because many of them are available for the iPhone as well. And if you want to switch off that screen, the best board games could offer a welcome alternative.
Marvel Future Revolution
Marvel Future Revolution was only released in August 2021, but it’s such a big one that it deserves its place on this list. It’s the latest huge mobile game from Marvel, and unlike previous mobile games from the company, it’s a third-person RPG that tells the tale of a “convergence” on planet Earth. Multiple realities are colliding, and it’s causing chaos. Your job, playing as a variety of Marvel heroes, is to stop it. Move your character with the left thumb, and select from a variety of attacks with the other — it’s a simple formula, but it’s a good slice of mindless fun. It’s a hefty download, but there’s a cute Flappy Bird-style minigame you can play while it downloads.
It’s almost a decade old, but my how Minecraft has grown. While you can never say Minecraft was ever basic, so much has been added over the years that it barely resembles the game that launched in 2011. If you’re somehow not familiar with this absolute blockbuster of a game, you find yourself in the world of Minecraft. Survive and thrive by making the most of the resources you find, build a gigantic castle, automated farms, and so, so much more. A real time-sink of a game, and for just $7.
Plague Inc. ($1)
Alright, so it might be a little on the nose these days, but there’s no denying Plague Inc. is a lot of fun. Play as a new disease, whether bacteria, virus, fungus, or more, and infect as many people as possible. As time goes by, you need to choose between becoming more overtly infectious — and risking discovery and vaccines — or stay under the radar for as long as possible so you can quickly mutate and ramp up all at once. Despite the global backdrop, Plague Inc. is still a great game to play any time you’ve got a few extra moments.
Black Desert Online
One of the few iOS games that can call itself a true mobile MMORPG, Black Desert Online is a free-to-play open-world game with an awful lot to offer if you’re a fan of PC games like World of Warcraft, Final Fantasy XIV, or other MMORPGs. With 14 character classes to choose from, a massive world to explore, and some gorgeous graphics, Black Desert Online is one of the big MMORPGs to choose from on iOS. Unfortunately, it does have quite a few paid elements, including boosts, but if you’re happy to do more legwork, you can ignore those.
Farming Simulator 20 ($6)
Want to play a farming game, but not a fan of Stardew Valley‘s cutesy style? Farming Simulator 20‘s realistic approach and graphics are definitely up your alley. The noble profession of farming has been faithfully reproduced down to the last brand-name tractor, with over 100 machines from real-world names, the ability to farm and harvest a wide range of crops, and the ability to hop on a horse and live out your cow-tending dreams. It costs $6, but if you’re a fan of a slower pace of life, this is definitely worth the initial investment.
SimCity is the majordomo of city-building games, and it’s great to see the legendary game series land on iOS. SimCity BuildIt is initially a straightforward affair: Build your city from the ground up, designing roads, public transit, and different districts so that traffic and commerce can flow freely. But once you’re past the early stages, you’ll need to start juggling, adding serious depth and giving you some big decisions to make. There are microtransactions here, though, so keep a close hand on your wallet.
Street Fighter IV CE ($5)
Street Fighter is one of the world’s biggest fighting game franchises, and now it has come to your iPhone with Street Fighter IV CE. This mobile port of the 2008 video game gives you access to 31 fighters (including old and new favorites), some impressive graphics, single and multiplayer modes, and full game controller support as well. While you’ll need to pay to play this game, $5 is an absolute bargain for a game of this caliber, and the porting is tight and extremely well done. A great investment if you’re a lover of fighting games.
Risk: Global Domination
Who wants to rule the world? Everybody, at least according to Tears for Fears and Risk: Global Domination. This is a classic strategy game and one you’ve likely played if you have a board game-loving friend or two. The rules are simple — win as much land as is possible, and be the player who dominates by the end. You can play single and multiplayer, and it even has cross-play capabilities, so you’ll get to play against PC players as well. If you like to jump between PC and mobile, your purchases also come with you, which is a very nice bonus.
The original puzzle game that started the 2048 craze, Threes! is a matching game with a difference. Slide tiles with matching numbers together to add them together, and continue going until you only have one tile left. It’s a simple concept, but it’s deeper than you’d assume, and it won’t be long before you’re hooked and desperately trying to figure out how to get those last few tiles matched together. This is the free ad-supported version, but there’s also a paid version if you’d like to support the developers directly.
Battles are fought on the edge of a knife, with snap decisions made in the spur of the moment often being the difference between victory and defeat. While we hope you never have to experience that for real, Warpath is a fun way to dabble in real-time battle strategy on your phone. With excellent-looking and realistic graphics, a range of battlefronts, and customization elements that unlock as you play, this is fun if you’ve always seen yourself as an armchair strategist. Unfortunately, there are complaints of pay-to-win aspects, but if you’re not worried about that, then this is a really fun real-time strategy game.
Reckon you can tell Iceland from Patagonia? Mongolia from Russia? What about Idaho from Yorkshire? If you’re something of a geographical whiz, put yourself to the test with GeoGuessr. The concept is extremely simple — you’re dropped into a random location from Google Street View, and your job is to figure out where exactly in the world you are. You can either play by yourself or compete against other players.
Like a Dino!
Like a Dino! is perhaps the cutest game on this list — just look at that little dinosaur’s adorable smile! Tap and hold the dinosaur and drag it from side to side to hit the bars as they fall, in time with the tune playing. It’s another simple premise, but the tunes and gameplay are both catchy enough that you’ll be playing more than you intended. Earn coins for lasting longer in the songs, which get gradually faster, and buy new songs to play.
Clash of Clans
The mobile game that propelled Supercell into the position of dominance it now holds — and spawned a number of spin-off games — Clash of Clans is absolutely worthy of a position on this list. It’s the biggest and best idle town builder game on iOS and an awful lot of fun to play. You can go up against rival villages, join up with alliances and fight in Clan Wars, or just quietly try and do your own thing while chaos erupts around you. It’s an excellently fun game; just be careful of the micro-transactions.
Cultist Simulator ($7)
There’s a whole world of forbidden knowledge and alien gods out there, and you, a 1920s researcher, are just the person to find it all out for yourself. Cultist Simulator is a notoriously unforgiving but fun card game that centers around unholy mysteries, secret histories, and an immersive storyline. Gather knowledge, bind others to your will, and summon ancient entities for just $7 — what a bargain! Be warned, though: There’s no tutorial for this game, as part of the fun is finding your way. Embrace failure and death as a part of Cultist Simulator!
Your neighbor is up to something nefarious, and you’re going to find out what it is. Except he’s a wily sort, and while you’re busy sneaking into his house, he’s carefully setting up traps to stop your investigations. An advanced artificial intelligence (A.I.) runs behind the scenes in Hello Neighbor, and it learns from your actions. Bear traps along routes and cameras near entrance points are just two of the ways your neighbor can stop you, so you’ll have your work cut out for you.
Super Mario Run
Who doesn’t love Mario? One of the biggest stars of video games is available on your smartphone in a couple of games now, but Super Mario Run is the purest and most true to the original vision, and the one that will make you nostalgic for the first time you played as the Italian plumber. It’s basically an endless runner, so you’ll know what you expect if you’ve played anything like Temple Run. Mario runs towards the right side of the screen, and all you do is control when he jumps. Smush Goombas, break blocks, and collect other characters to play as. The first few levels are free to play, but you’ll need to pay $10 to access the rest.
Supercell is the studio behind huge games like Clash Royale, Boom Beach, and — of course — Clash of Clans, and it also has an excellent arena shooter. Brawl Stars throws you into arena battles against other players, with the aim being to kill as many other players as you can to unlock new characters with unique skills, and skins for existing characters. Like many Supercell games, matches only take a few minutes, which makes Brawl Stars a great choice if you need a quick game on the bus. Unfortunately, it’s monetized, but money tends to only speed your progress and you don’t have to pay if you don’t want to.
Shadowgun Legends was the first phone-based first-person shooter (FPS) to show us what the smartphone could really do. Playing as a legendary hero, one of the Shadowguns, your job is to fight off alien invaders that threaten to end life on Earth. There’s a 200-plus mission single-player campaign, but that’s not the only thing to keep you interested. PR is as important as weaponry to a Shadowgun, and you’ll also need to become famous as a warrior-celebrity to access some rewards. Take part in battles against the computer and even other players to build your Fame and become the greatest Shadowgun around.
The Seven Deadly Sins
Based on the popular manga/anime of the same name, The Seven Deadly Sins is a full-blown RPG set in the world of Britannia, where humans take on demons in the relaunched Holy War. Build your very own team based on the characters of the series (always pair Ban and Melodias, they’re best friends), and defeat demons to defend the kingdom. There’s even a two-player cooperative mode. It’s a surprisingly big game for the platform, and it comes with a bunch of fun extra, like character models rendered in AR.
Soccer is the biggest sport in the world, so it makes sense it has a strong showing in the sports game section on iOS. The FIFA Football game puts you in charge of your Ultimate Team, the strategy game mode where you build your own team from players from around the world. Build your team to take advantage of various bonuses from theming around country, team, or league, and use your players to take on computer-controlled teams or players in leagues. Train up your players, and even take part in special live events timed to coincide with real-world matches.
Big Farm: Home & Garden
We love match-3 games, but they’re a dime a dozen. Therefore, any match 3 game that changes the formula even slightly is worthy of our attention. In Big Farm: Home & Garden, you solve match-3 puzzles to design and renovate old farm buildings, whether your own or your neighbors and slowly build up your own special space. It’s not exactly what you’d call deep, but it’s a fun distraction, and it gives you a good amount of control over the look and style of your home.
Ingress Prime is the second game in the Ingress series, and the spiritual brethren of Pokémon Go. But the two games couldn’t be more different, outside of a need to be played outdoors. In Ingress Prime, you’re tasked with collecting as much Exotic Matter as possible, in order for your faction to gain supremacy over the world. Take over Portals and link them together to create Control Fields, which you’ll need a lot of to gain absolute control. It’s an MMORPG you play in real life, so expect other players to try and stop you as you fight for control.
We knew it wasn’t going to be long before this classic was back on the list. It’s getting on a little now, but Pokémon Go remains a firm favorite for many. You know the drill: Head outdoors, catch Pokémon, train them up, and take on nearby gyms. If you’re successful, you can even out them under new management — yours! With a massive catalog of monsters to choose from and catch, there’s always something new to find, and if you’ve lapsed a little, maybe take this chance to regain your love for Pokémon. One of the first real-world mobile MMORPGs to really take off, Pokémon Go is absolutely worth your time.
Star Wars: KOTOR II ($15)
The original Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic is a port of one of the best story-driven games of all time, and now the sequel also is available. The initial asking price is high at $15, but this is a full PC game running on your iPhone, and like other ports of that nature, you get a lot of game for your money. The story is set thousands of years before the main Star Wars storyline and tells the story of the warring Jedi and Sith. In KOTOR II, the Sith have almost succeeded in crushing the Old Republic, and now, as a lone Jedi struggling with the Force, you’re the Republic’s only chance.
League of Legends: Wild Rift
League of Legends is one of the world’s biggest games, and you can now play it on your iPhone. If you’ve played LoL before, then you know what to expect — choose your champion and join your team of four other players in a five-on-five battle to push up the map and into your opponent’s base. It’s a simple formula, but the mobile online battle arena (MOBA) is also cunningly deep, and you’ll be looking up tactics for your chosen champion in no time at all. It’s free to play, so you don’t need to pay to access any of the champions. Instead, you can unlock them over time by playing the game.
Orwell’s Animal Farm ($4)
So, this is a weird thing to see on the App Store under “Games,” but it’s surprisingly good. George Orwell’s classic tale Animal Farm translates well into a gaming medium, and you can now play Orwell’s scathing critique of corruption and totalitarianism in the Soviet Union. Alright, so it’s less of a game than an interactive experience, really, but there’s a lot to enjoy here, and while the $4 price tag is a little bit of a barrier to entry, if you think of this as an alternative to reading the book, this isn’t a bad price at all.
Chess — Play & Learn
If you’ve always wanted to play more chess but have been put off by the rather intimidating atmosphere around it, then give Chess — Learn & Play a try. It has a huge range of opponents to play against, both human and A.I., and if you pick a computer-controlled opponent, then you can make sure to pick an easy opponent (if you’re just starting), an adaptive opponent (who’ll change their difficulty to try and give you a challenge), or a grandmaster (if you’re looking to stretch your skill). You can play for free, but you can pay for different tiers of membership, which offer unlimited puzzles, more lessons, and game analysis, amongst other bonuses. Best of all, you can take your skills from your mobile into the real board game, giving you a real edge over your grandpa.
Legends of Runeterra
It seems like every game has to have a trading card game spin-off these days — but while they’re as good as Legends of Runeterra, we’re not going to complain. Set in the world of League of Legends, Legends of Runeterra has you collect classic LoL champions and new characters alike, as you battle other players. Unlike other collectible card games, there’s a heavy emphasis on dynamic gameplay that has you counter your opponent’s play with your own, so you’re not just sitting back and watching as someone else takes their turn. Like most other games in the genre, you can pay to increase your collection, or earn cards as you play.
The “endless runner” genre is a mobile gaming staple, and Subway Surfers is the best current game in the most casual and fun of genres. The premise is simple — run along the subway, jump between cars, collect coins, and avoid falling off. It’s simple, but it’s still a lot of fun.
So you might need training to become a real tattoo artist, but that’s not the case in Ink Inc. Basically an exercise in adult coloring, your job is to fill in whatever tattoos your customers desire and slowly grow your business from the bottom up. It’s a chilled-out game, so don’t expect pulse-pounding action. Instead, it’s a fun little game to play while you’re relaxing on the sofa after a long day. Color in between the lines, don’t mess it up, and enjoy watching your customers leave with their new tattoos.