The mobile app stores – both the iOS app store and Android’s Google Play Store – are home to literally millions of unique games to explore. This makes smartphones easily the most diverse and well-stocked gaming platforms of any available today, even if they may not be able to serve up blockbuster titles like Far Cry 5 or Cyberpunk 2077.

However, all of these choices can lead to some drawbacks. For one, while there are indeed many games to download and play on the official stores, not all of these will be worth your time or effort. In fact, a lot of games are actually just knock-off clones of better titles, designed to serve as money spinners for developers.

To really make the most of gaming on mobile, it’s important to sort through these duds to find the real, high-quality titles. There are, fortunately, numerous ways to do this – from looking at the Editor’s Picks toplists for specialized recommendations to taking a look at review ranking platforms such as Metacritic to see which games are widely credited with being of good quality.

But what if the type of game you want to play can’t be found on the app store, or you have privacy concerns that prevent you from downloading and accessing ‘closed-source’ software – what then?

Thankfully, smartphones are incredibly flexible and can offer a number of unique ways to play games without ever having to open up the app stores. Let’s take a look at some great alternatives below.


Before there were apps, there were online mini-games. It can be easy to forget, with the convenience afforded by the app stores, that many of the best and most comprehensive online gaming websites from the past 20 years are still up and running and home to many exciting titles to play. From Miniclip, to Kongregate and even Newgrounds, these sites which were once hotbeds of creativity and the heart of a thriving browser-based gaming community still have plenty to offer gamers in 2023.

Another good reason to explore browser gaming is that certain game genres, such as online slots, are historically underrepresented in the official app stores. In this instance, the best way to play these titles is to direct your browser to any number of leading reputable platforms that provide users with a huge selection of high-quality slots to explore and play, on-demand and on the go.


Sometimes people want to play games that are either banned from the app stores or discontinued. You may wonder how it’s possible to get around this issue, but it’s actually quite simple. The method employed is known as side-loading, and it’s actually quite simple.

Users just download from trusted websites the executable file they want to install on their device, and grant the permissions necessary to cause your device to accept the installation.

Gaming Couple
Gaming Couple

This is easier on Android in general, as to do this on iPhone may require jailbreaking your hardware – but with simple-to-follow guides to help you through every step of this process available online, you can find yourself up and playing Fortnite or Flappy Bird before you know it.

Open Source

With recent concerns about privacy looming large among internet users, some have opted to improve the security of their devices by sticking to so-called open source software. This refers to programs whose code is readily available for you to review.

The advantage of this is that it prevents any malware or spyware from being installed on your device without your knowledge, thus ensuring the highest standards of security.

Fortunately, there are actually plenty of resources out there for free and open source games to install and enjoy on your device in good conscience. While it’s true many of these cannot match the type of graphical fidelity offered by the latest triple-A mobile games like Genshin Impact, libraries like F-Droid feature many well-loved and community-supported games to sink your teeth into.

Suffice it to say, with proper research, you can really have your cake and eat it when it comes to gaming on mobile.