There are so many gaming platforms available across the various devices and ecosystems that make up our tech-fueled lives in 2021. So much so, it can be difficult to get the bottom of which ones are truly worth your time and money.
Here, we take a quick run through some of the most innovative, and at times overlooked, gaming services available in 2021. Each brings something unique to the table and opens up fresh gaming opportunities, whether you’re looking to go solo or enjoy playing along with friends.
Facebook Instant Games
If you’re an online user in 2021, chances are you have an account with Facebook or partner brands WhatsApp and Instagram. There are currently almost 3 billion users on Facebook alone, which makes it the most visited and utilised platform on the internet. This makes it a uniquely well suited location for social gaming.
Facebook has a variety of gaming platforms integrated into its services, but the most commonly used and most accessible of these is Facebook’s Instant Games Services. This is a library of some of the most popular HTML5 games online, such as Scrabble-clone Words with Friends, or the immensely successful top-down billiards game, 8 Ball Pool.
What Facebook brings to the table is its in-depth social integration. This lets you challenge your friends and launch games with them right from within Facebook messenger, making spontaneous gaming easier than ever.
In addition to this, Facebook’s Instant Games service has full leaderboard functionality, all with the ability to share your high scores and victories to your newsfeed for maximum bragging rights.
Xbox Game Pass Ultimate
Xbox has had an online gaming component in the form of Xbox Live ever since the original console. The current iteration of this, known as Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, integrates and continues the well-established feature-set of Xbox Live Gold, while adding a whole host of extra functionality.
This comes in the form of Microsoft’s own deeply integrated cloud gaming service. This new tool lets you play your library of Xbox games on your phone or Windows computer by simply logging in to the service. It marks the first time many Xbox games have been able to be played without dedicated hardware.
Xbox Game Pass Ultimate also hosts special offers and discounts on fresh releases and indie classics, ensuring there’s always something new to dive into if you’re after a fresh challenge.
If you would prefer to play some classic, casino style games, a good choice is the gaming platform PokerStars Casino. This service is home to online versions of traditional titles, from roulette to baccarat and a wide variety of slot games. The platform offers the ability to connect with other players, in addition to offering gaming rooms with live table dealers for extra immersion.
Call it the Netflix of retro gaming if you wish, Plex Arcade is in fact more robust and feature packed than it would first appear. The main draw for many gamers will be the fact that Plex Arcade is a collaboration between the streaming service Plex, and legendary gaming company Atari.
As a result of this partnership you will be able to play virtually every classic Atari game on your TV with a bluetooth control pad, all for a small subscription fee. Though there’s more, as Plex Arcade is also an emulator. This means you are at liberty to side-load your own ROMs and play classic games of your choosing for free, all in glorious HD.
Apple has always had a love/hate relationship with video games. Over the years it has struggled with how to integrate the silly, fun and extravagant world of gaming with its own clinical designer aesthetic.
Apple Arcade is the company’s latest attempt to bridge this gap. It offers a curated selection of 180 of the finest games in the App store, all to enjoy for a single subscription fee. These can then be played across Apple’s entire ecosystem, from your iPad to Apple TV+.
In the time it is expected that Apple will begin to invest in building out this platform to include titles exclusive to the service, but even in these early stages, it is a compelling product that opens up gaming on Apple products like never before.