Though so many businesses have struggled to thrive during the global pandemic, there is one industry which has done particularly well from people being parked on their bottoms at home, keen to establish connections with others via their computers.

Nope, we’re not talking about Zoom or Amazon today, but rather, the online gaming industry, which has recently been predicted to grow by 20% and reach $175 billion in revenue this year. Wowzers.

Once a much-maligned form of recreation, charged with causing eyesight issues, idleness and even youth violence, gaming has now gone mainstream, with the social aspect particularly lauded during these disconnected times.

Whether you’re looking to gain traction, find distraction, enjoy interaction or even complete a transaction, there is an online game out there for you. With that in mind, here are 6 of the most popular free online games in 2021.


Laying a rightful claim to being the most popular online game globally and with over 50 million online players, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, often referred to as PUBG, must be doing something right.  

PUBG is a player versus shooter set-up which sees hundreds fight a battle royale, either solo or as part of a team, with players loving the game for its unpredictability. By playing the game and winning certain rounds, players get currency in the form of gold and silver which can be used to buy different military paraphernalia, weapons and even clothes.

Though the graphics feel advanced and the possibilities endless, one of the chief appeals of PUBG is that it can be played on both a computer or a mobile device, with the game running remarkably well on both. Should you be playing on either, do make sure you’re taking the correct precautions to ensure your eye health and proper posture is protected.


If you love science fiction games, Apex Legends could be for you. This free-to-play battle royale sees groups of two or three ‘legends’ come together on an island, firstly to search for weapons, and then to use those weapons in a fight to the death. What makes this game particularly thrilling is that the island in question gradually shrinks, meaning players have to constantly be on their toes not to fall off the edge!

Apex Legends is particularly inclusive due to its cross-platform play feature, meaning anyone with a Windows computer, a Nintendo Switch, Xbox One or Playstation 4 can compete and team up. A mobile version was recently announced, and is rumoured to be arriving next year.


Free-to-play and available on all platforms, should you be down with the kids, we’re sure you’ve heard of Fortnite. Don’t let the Americanised spelling put you off, this is an immersive, ingenious game, that’s for sure. 

Whether you want to ‘squad’ up as a group of four, partner with a pal in ‘duo’ mode, or go it alone in ‘solo’, there’s something for everyone in this critically acclaimed third-person battle-royale shooter.  Besides the fluidity with which the game plays, the innovative building mechanics and endless melange of weapons and items on offer, what makes the game truly stand out is its ever evolving spectacle; each season seems to bring something new to the last. Great stuff.

Over 5 million people play this online multiplayer game worldwide…are you going to join them?


LOL stands for the League of Legends, and you’ll more likely be screaming with excitement when playing this one rather than laughing out loud.

The game emerged as one of the first of its kind 10 years ago and still hasn’t lost its popularity as we enter the halfway stage of 2021. Still resolutely, proudly free-to-play at its most basic level, there is plenty of premium content if you’re keen to upgrade and customise your ‘champion’. In fact, League of Legends generated over $1 billion last year through in-game microtransactions.


Counter-strike Global Offensive (CS: GO) is the fourth iteration of Valve’s world famous first-person shooter video game which can be played either online or offline. Players can choose to play as either terrorists or counter-terrorists, with each round starting with a sell-off of 34 different types of weaponry to be used in a battle. The rest is a thrilling, free-for-all involving various objective-based game modes. 

Though it came out in 2012, Valve regularly updates this one, meaning it looks and feels very much like a 2021 game. Like the others on our list, the game follows a ‘freemium’ business model, with CS: GO free-to-play, but with updates and customisations available to buy should you wish to.


Finally, free-to-play or low volatility slots are having a hugely popular start to the decade. Low volatility allows players to try out slot games without having to put down a big wager, which is hugely appealing to those who simply want a spin without the risk involved in staking big money on slots.

Always look for an online slot machine or games platform which offers plays without any financial commitment, has at least 2.5 seconds between each spin, pledges to remove ‘auto play’ options, and clearly displays exactly how long you’ve been playing at all times. 


Online games have soared in popularity during these long stretches of lockdown, and only look set to get bigger and more advanced as the decade progresses. 

If you’re keen to take your gaming experience up several notches, then check out these 7 tips for creating the IDEAL gaming room.

Just Published

More from ideal

Where To Eat In Marylebone: The Best Restaurants In Marylebone, London

Ideal for impressing Sherlock Holmes with your taste in dinner...Marylebone. Though we’ve read it hundreds of times, we’ve still got no idea how to pronounce the name of this...

5 Ways To Make The Most Out Of Autumn’s Fruits

The changing of the seasons and the arrival of autumn heralds many things; a nostalgic pining for spring and summer, an increased intake of pumpkin spice lattes, a renewed...

The Best Restaurants Near London Waterloo

It’s certainly a surprise to say that, despite it being the capital’s second busiest station, London Waterloo is somewhat bereft of great dining options. Sure, the clarion call for your...

What The Autumn Equinox Means For Your Star Sign, According To An Astrologer

Ideal if you want to know how the autumn equinox will affect you and your star sign...September 23rd heralds the arrival of the autumn equinox. This solar event not only marks the end...

Where To Eat In Borough Market

Sitting south of the river in London's Southwark lies a food lover's paradise – Borough Market. With a history dating back over 1,000 years, this bustling market is not...

Where To Eat Near Tottenham Court Road: The Best Restaurants

Ideal for fiery Thai, soul restoring udon, and everything in between...With a shiny new stop on the Elizabeth Line cementing its status as a TFL headlining act, Tottenham Court...