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Best Android games without in-app purchases in 2024

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Since the first Android devices, games on our phones have been crammed with in-app purchases, making the phrase “mobile games” almost a curse. But in 2024, the Play Store has plenty of fantastic games that require a single up-front payment or no payment at all. Unfortunately, there’s no way to filter the Play Store by games without microtransactions.

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We’ve scoured the Play Store for the best Android games without in-app purchases. We’ve included free and paid options here, but all of them are worth your time and won’t lock features or content behind an in-game paywall. Consider pairing them with one of our top gaming tablets for the best experience.

1 Pocket City 2

An accessible city-builder packed with content

Pocket City 2

Genre
Simulation

Controller support
❌ No

ChromeOS support
✅ Yes

Publish date
March 24, 2023

Publisher
Codebrew Games

Subscription
None

Pocket City 2 won AP’s award for best Android game of 2023. Mobile city-builder games are typically crammed with microtransactions, forcing you to watch energy bars and timers to perform basic actions. Pocket City 2 bucked this trend by offering a sandbox experience that offered more content than most city-builders without relying on mechanics like energy bars or in-game currency.

Pocket City 2 isn’t just a consumer-friendly game; it also offers some of the best gameplay from any city builder on Android. Building is straightforward and packed with variety, but it’s the sandbox mechanics that caught our eye.

In Pocket City 2, you can travel around your city in the third person on foot or by vehicle, chatting with your citizens to accept and complete quests. This helps your town and its people feel alive, something most city-builders struggle to achieve.

Pocket City 2 is a considerable improvement over the original game. It’s a must-play for fans of city-builder games, and you can buy it rest assured that you’re getting your money’s worth.

2 Railbound

Challenging puzzles packed with charm

railbound-product-tag

Railbound

Genre
Puzzle

Controller support
❌ No

ChromeOS support
✅ Yes

Publish date
September 3, 2022

Publisher
Afterburn

Subscription
None

Railbound is a relaxing puzzle game where you’ll connect and transform railways to help a pair of dogs make their train journey around the world. It’s easy on the eyes, and while the puzzles are challenging, patience is the key here. Thankfully, there are no microtransactions; the $5 price unlocks all 240 levels.

Railbound is one of our favorite puzzle games on Android, thanks to its charm and clever level design. But what makes Railbound stand out is its storybook design and cheerful soundtrack. It’s hard to get frustrated with the more challenging levels when watching your trains accidentally bump into each other. It’s adorable.

While Railbound doesn’t offer much replayability, it’s an experience you won’t forget soon. You’re certainly getting your money’s worth, and don’t forget to check out the developer’s previous game, Golf Peaks.

3 Papers, Please

Tough choices are necessary here

papers-please-product-tag

Papers Please

Genre
Simulation

Controller support
❌ No

ChromeOS support
❌ No

Publish date
July 27, 2022

Publisher
3909

Subscription
None required

Papers, Please launched on PC in 2013, arriving on our mobile devices in 2022 as the full game without in-app purchases; if you’re unfamiliar with the simulation game, you’ll be a border inspector agent in the fictional communist state of Arstotzka. While the premise initially seems simple, your daily wage is based on how many applications you accurately process daily. If you take too long or make too many mistakes, you won’t be able to feed your family.

The difficulty in managing the flow of people is exacerbated when the state of Arstotzka introduces more stringent requirements for entry, terrorists are unveiled, and people invent more elaborate fake documents. Do you take your time accommodating the new challenges and risk going without heating for a day?

Papers, Please’s UI was redesigned for mobile, and the game was rebalanced to suit the new format. It’s a fantastic game for $5 and made even better by the lack of in-app purchases.

4 Stardew Valley

A charming RPG/Simulation

stardew-valley-product-tag

Stardew Valley

Controller support
✅ Yes

ChromeOS support
✅ Yes

Publish date
March 13, 2019

Publisher
Chucklefish

Subscription
Free with Play Pass

Stardew Valley is a must-play for RPG fans, and its mobile version is the most accessible way to play. It has all the features of the PC and console versions without microtransactions or ads. However, we recommend playing Stardew Valley on your phone and tablet with one of the best Android controllers, as the touch controls aren’t precise enough for reliable use.

We love Stardew Valley because of its rewarding and extensive gameplay; fans of the Harvest Moon games will be at home here. Unfortunately, multiplayer is not supported on mobile, so if you plan on playing with friends, we recommend buying Stardew Valley on PC or a console.

Stardew Valley is available for $5, but you can download it for free if you are a Play Pass subscriber. We recommend exploring the other games and apps on Play Pass to decide whether this is a better way to play Stardew Valley.

5 Into the Breach

Battle with mechs in this time-traveling roguelike

into-the-breach-product-tag

Into The Breach

Genre
Roguelike , Puzzle

Controller support
✅ Yes

ChromeOS support
❌ No

Publish date
July 18, 2022

Publisher
Netflix

Subscription
Netflix Games

Into the Breach arrived on mobile thanks to Netflix, which offered to publish the game on mobile in exchange for it becoming exclusive to Netflix Games. The puzzle/roguelike game, which pits time-traveling mechs against giant alien monsters, is incredibly challenging, so don’t be deceived by the simple level design.

Into the Breach rewards clever thinking rather than encyclopedic knowledge of the game’s weapons and enemies. This means it’s easy for beginners to pick up and play, but the massive variety of mechs and monsters will keep you playing for weeks.

Into the Breach is exclusive to Netflix Games, so you’ll need a Netflix subscription to play. However, this means there are no in-app purchases or ads.

Don’t get surprised by hidden costs

Many publishers use sneaky methods to pretend there aren’t microtransactions in their games; it’s hard to find games that are upfront about their monetization. However, sometimes microtransactions aren’t all bad, as we saw in some of the best games of 2023.

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