Facebook gaming is far from dead — it's just getting started. 2013 saw impressive growth in both audience numbers and diversity of Facebook game developer, making for one exciting year for free browser-based entertainment.
According to Facebook's AJ Glasser (that name sounds familiar), the lists here were compliled (baring the Staff Favorites) based on a number of criteria, from player count to customer rating to overall growth. They are the most popular, the most well-respected, and the most entertaining games to play on Facebook.
Some are puzzle games, like Candy Crush Saga. Others are casino gambling games. But an increasing number of top-tier Facebook games are aiming for the mid to hardcore gamer — and the audience is growing.
Criminal Case by Pretty Simple
This hidden object game from a French indie studio combines crime scene investigation with engaging sharing mechanics to create the most successful Facebook game of the year. As detailed in our case study of the game, Open Graph stories featuring visceral artwork drove organic growth for the game throughout the first half of the year. Content updates and additional cases drove more growth for the game in the second half of the year.
Bake Shop Drop by Broken Bulb Studios
An adorable match-3 game featuring delicious-looking pastries from the developers of the Miscrits, a long-running Facebook game franchise. Rather than switching or line-drawing match mechanics, players drop a single pastry from the top of a display case onto pastries of the same type below.
Farm Heroes Saga by King
A farm-themed match-3 game from the makers of the wildly successful Candy Crush Saga. The bright colors and rounded edges of the art style distinguish Farm Heroes Saga both from other match-3 games and from King's previous successes in the genre.
Heart of Vegas by Product Madness/Aristocrat
This slots game is the first from this London developer since its acquisition late last year by land-based casino company Aristocrat. The high quality graphics and sound speak to the developer's skill with the category.
Hit It Rich Casino Slots by Zynga
This beautifully designed slots simulation from the FarmVille developer features slot machines based on characters and themes from movies, television, and comic books.
Jelly Splash by Wooga
A richly animated line-drawing match-3 game from the developers of popular Facebook game Diamond Dash. Jelly Splash launched first on mobile before going cross platform on Facebook.com in summer of this year.
Kitchen Scramble by Disney Interactive
This cooking-themed time management sim puts players in a food truck and sends them to various food-themed "countries" to serve local cuisine. This is the first original IP developer for Facebook that feels like a Disney production, right down to the animated mixing bowl loading screen.
Monster Legends by Social Point
From the Barcelona-based developer of hit game Dragon City, Monster Legends lets players collect, raise and battle monsters of all kinds against each other. The "Pandalf" panda-wizard monster is an office favorite.
The Smurfs & Co.: Spellbound by Ubisoft
A sequel to 2011's The Smurfs & Co, French game developer Ubisoft follows up with a more personalized village-building experience featuring the lovable blue Belgian comic characters. Spellbound proves that recognizable brands still carry a lot of weight with players on our platform.
Soldiers Inc. by Plarium
A real-time strategy game from an Israeli indie developer. This gritty war epic grew rapidly over the summer and still continues to draw a large audience of hardcore players.
Solitaire Tales by Qublix
From a Toronto indie studio, Tales is a steampunk-themed solitaire game that treats players with familiar gameplay in a rich fantasy setting.
Thunder Run War of Clans by SpinPunch Games
Another hardcore strategy game, this indie studio was founded out of a Stanford University dorm room just last year. and beer.
Vikings Gone Wild by EveryDayiPlay
A hardcore strategy game from a Polish indie studio built with the Unity 3D engine. Players build armies of Viking warriors to pillage one another's homesteads for spoils of gold and beer.
DoubleU Casino by AFewGoodSoft
This high quality casino game comes from a South Korean indie that launched in mid 2012 and rapidly grew to a 40-person company on the success of this game alone.
Game of Thrones Ascent by Disruptor Beam
A role-playing simulation based both on the megahit "A Song of Ice and Fire" book series and its HBO miniseries "Game of Thrones."
King's Bounty: Legions by Nival
A complex turn-based strategy game that has grown on a few of our staff over the last year.
Panda Jam by SGN
A cross-platform casual game where players collapse cubes of matching colors to free trapped baby pandas
Wartune by Road7/Proficient City
This is the English language version of a popular strategy massively multiplayer online game. Since its launch on Facebook in spring of 2012 by publisher Proficient City, the game has grown rapidly in size and is one of the most successful core games on the platform to date.
War Commander by Kixeye
One of the earliest real-time strategy titles on Facebook lets players build up armies, attack each other and compete for resources. It's still played regularly by Facebook staff two years after leaving beta
Candy Crush Saga by King
The King match-3 game has been a phenomenal success this year entertaining audiences on Facebook.com and mobile devices alike.
DoubleDown Casino by DoubleDown Interactive/IGT
With a suite of engrossing casino games, DoubleDown keeps players hooked with lively themes and opportunities to compete with others.
FarmVille 2 by Zynga
Sequel to one of Facebook's earliest farm simulation games, FarmVille 2 features some of the slickest graphics on our platform. Exciting new content keeps players coming back and contributes to this game's remarkable performance.
Slotomania by Playtika/Caesar's Interactive
Always fresh and fun, this slots game keeps delighting web and mobile players with its creative categories and engaging graphics.
Best thing about all of these games? They cost absolutely nothing to play. Free games are pretty great. Which free games have you played lately?