The Top 10 Most Popular Free PC Games

PC game
Junophoto/Getty Images

The free PC games featured here are completely free to download, install and play, you will not find any free 2 play games or other freemium games that may include some sort of fee structure in order to get all the features or gameplay.

Each game page linked to from within the list includes a brief summary of the game's story/plot (if applicable), gameplay features and information on where it can be downloaded for free. If you enjoy this article, be sure to check out the Free Games A to Z list, The Top Free Computer Game SitesTop Freeware Platformer Games and more.

01
of 10

Command & Conquer: Red Alert

Command & Conquer: Red Alert
Command & Conquer: Red Alert. © Electronic Arts

Coming in as the most popular free PC game is Command & Conquer: Red Alert. It is the first game in the Command & Conquer sub-series which takes place in a parallel universe created by Albert Einstein in which World War II never occurred and a conflict between the Soviet Union and Allied nations in the 1950s is the backdrop to this real-time strategy game. The game was extremely popular when it was released and has two sequels Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2 and Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3.

The game was released for free by Electronic Arts for a promotion to coincide with the 13th anniversary of its release and the announcement of C&C Red Alert 3. After the promotion ended EA allowed 3rd party sites to continue to host the game. The Command & Conquer Red Alert game page provides these download links and additional information on the game.

While EA no longer supports the early Command & Conquer games, including Command & Conquer: Red Alert, the game still has plenty of fans who still play the game over at CnCNet.org. In addition to Red Alert, they also offer many of the other C&C games for free download and multiplayer capability.

Grand Theft Auto Screenshot
Grand Theft Auto Screenshot. © Rockstart Games

The original Grand Theft Auto, the first game in the award-winning and best selling Grand Theft Auto series, is the second most popular free PC game featured on this site. Released in 1997 the game features two-dimensional top-down graphics/gameplay where players complete crime based missions that include theft, robbery, assault and more. The mission-based story is played in a somewhat open world gameplay which gives players a large amount of freedom when trying to complete missions. It also takes players through the three primary locations/cities of Liberty City, Vice City, and San Andreas, that have been the setting for most other Grand Theft Auto games. Grand Theft Auto was also controversial when it was released due to the nature of the missions which at times involve violent crimes including the ability to run over/kill pedestrians. Looking back, the elements deemed controversial at the time of release seem trivial by today's standards and level of graphics.

Grand Theft Auto is no longer available from Rockstar games, which provided a free download (after email registration) of Grand Theft Auto, Grand Theft Auto 2 and Wild Metal, but it still can be found from a number of third party sites which are detailed in the game profile page. More »

03
of 10

Grand Theft Auto 2

Grand Theft Auto 2
Grand Theft Auto 2. © Rockstar Games

Coming in as the second most popular free PC game is Grand Theft Auto 2, which was released in 1999. Grand Theft Auto 2 is similar in look and feel of the original Grand Theft Auto, with the game being played from the top-down perspective. It includes updated graphics and a host of new features such as rival gangs, new mission types and enhanced AI and non-player character interactions with the open world. Much like the first game, players take part in crime based missions, but in GTA2 you can choose which gangs to complete jobs for, which can cause distrust from rival gangs.

Grand Theft Auto 2 is no longer available through Rockstar Classics but is available through many 3rd party hosting sites, additional details on the game and download links can be found on the Grand Theft Auto 2 game page.

04
of 10

#4 - Super Mario XP

Super Mario XP
Super Mario XP.

Super Mario XP is a remake of the Super Mario Bros game for the original Nintendo Entertainment System and is one of the most popular free PC games. The gameplay is very close to the original classic including the number of levels, power-ups, boss challenges and more, providing players with a fun game that also offers a nostalgic look back. There have been quite a few Super Mario Clones and Remakes made for the PC and this is one of the better ones available.

Additional details and links to where the game can be downloaded for free are available in the Super Mario XP game page.

05
of 10

America's Army 3

America's Army 3 - Free PC Game
America's Army 3 - Free PC Game. © U.S. Army

America's Army 3 is the fifth most popular free pc game listed. It is the latest offering from the U.S. Army which is used a part promotional/recruitment tool as well as a training tool for people to become familiar with standard U.S. Army rules of engagement. The first person shooter was originally released in 2009 and has received a few updates in the years since. The game contains both a single player and multiplayer components and was built using the Unreal 3 game engine. The game modes, top-notch graphics, and free availability have made this a go-to download for many fans of first-person shooters.​​

06
of 10

Duke Nukem 3D

Duke Nukem 3D
Duke Nukem 3D. © 3D Realms

The sixth most popular free PC game is Duke Nukem 3D, the sci-fi first person shooter that was released in 1996. Calling Duke Nukem 3D a free PC game is a little misleading since it has never been released as freeware by the game's copyright holder, 3D Realms. The most that has been available for free is a shareware version which does not include all of the game play available in the full retail version. The source code for Duke Nukem 3D was released back in 2003, which has since spawned a number of ports which allow the game to be played on more recent versions of Windows, Linux and Mac OS. The most well known and best port out there is EDuke32 which is linked to in the Duke Nukem 3D profile page. EDuke32 offers the same great game play of the original Duke Nukem 3D along with some exciting new features and upgrades.

07
of 10

Doom

Doom
Doom. © id Software

Doom is another classic ​first-person shooter, released in 1993, that comes in as the seventh most popular free PC game. Similar to Duke Nukem 3D, the original Doom game has never been released as freeware, but the source code was released and placed in GNU General Public License in 1999. Since then there have been over 50 ports of the original Doom to various operating systems, all of which are free to play and download. Some of the best know Doom ports include DosDoom which ports the game back to a DOS version which is playable through DOSBox, Boom which overhauls the game engine fixing many bugs and PRBoom which takes the revised code from Boom and ports it to a windows based version of Doom. Download links for all of these ports can be found on the Doom game page.

08
of 10

3D Desert Run

3D Desert Run - Free PC Game
3D Desert Run - Free PC Game.

3D Desert Run is a flying simulation game in which players control a hovercraft through a desert avoiding enemies and obstacles as they try to collect as many stars as they can. The gameplay for 3D Desert Run is fairly limited and there is not much replayability. It is somewhat surprising that it comes into the Top 10 Most Popular Free PC Games, it may simply be due to the fact that 3D Desert Run is the first title listed in the Free PC Games A to Z list.

09
of 10

Super Mario 3: Mario Forever

Super Mario 3: Mario Forever
Super Mario 3: Mario Forever.

Super Mario 3: Mario Forever is another Super Mario Bros freeware remake for the PC. It is also the best one available to date. It contains classic platform gaming with the retro-inspired sound and visuals and superb game play with all of the same levels, enemies, hidden items that you'd find in the classic Super Mario Bros game. The game has been updated a number of times over the years with the latest version being 5.0

10
of 10

Command & Conquer

Command & Conquer
Command & Conquer. © Electronic Arts

Rounding out the top 10 free PC games is the original Command & Conquer real-time strategy game from Westwood Studios. Originally released in 1995, the original Command & Conquer was well received by fans and critics alike. The game features two playable factions who battle over an alien substance called Tiberium. It was also one of the most influential RTS games for its multiplayer component and other great features. The game was released as freeware by Electronic Arts in 2007 as a promotion and has continued to be freely available on many 3rd party mirror sites.