Best social multiplayer games to play at a party
Your smartphone is the key to an evening of sweet party games with friends!
Updated April 28: Added a section on the indispensable Jackbox Party Packs.
Party games provide a great way for friends, new and old, to come together, share a laugh, and just have a good time. But with pretty much everyone owning a smartphone these days, the way we play party games has evolved.
While some might say it’s anti-social to be on your phone at party, these hilarious party games typically only require an Android phone
Jackbox Party Pack
Since 2013, Jackbox Games has been developing outstanding social party games that are super intuitive to play, and available across a wide variety of platforms. It gets people talking and laughing like any good party game should, and Jackbox has really fine-tuned the party game genre. They’ve repackaged a number of their mobile games into fun party games you can play on your TV or computer and have released three party packs each featuring five great party games. Best of all there are no special controllers required — up to 8 people can play using only a smartphone, tablet, or laptop to connect.
The three bundles each contain five different social games that typically support 3 to 8 players:
- Jackbox Party Pack — includes YOU DON’T KNOW JACK 2015, Fibbage XL, Drawful, Word Spud, and Lie Swatter.
- Jackbox Party Pack 2 — includes Fibbage 2, Earwax, Bidiots, Quiplash, and Bomb Corp.
- Jackbox Party Pack 3 — Includes Quiplash 2, Trivia Murder Party, Guesspionage, Tee K.O., and Fakin’ It.
Jackbox offers its Party Packs for virtually every platform and video game console, including Android TV, Amazon Fire TV and Steam. People at your party can log in and play on their phone, a tablet or a computer — all they really need is a browser to access Jackbox.tv and the four-letter room code.
All party packs are available for $24.99 no matter which system or device you’re running with the exception of PlayStation 4 users who can try the original Jackbox Party Pack for free, and enjoy a 70% discount on Jackbox Party Pack 3 with PlayStation Plus.
My friends and I are quite partial to the bundle of games included in the first Party Box, so I’ll link it in the Google Play Store below. But you really can’t go wrong with any of these bundles. Each offers great value and a guaranteed good time with friends and family. Best of all, “The Jackbox Party Pack 4” was just recently given an autumn release date, so we have even more uproarious party games to look forward to in the near future!
Psych is a game of trivia and bluffing where everyone comes up with a fake answer to the question, and then try and guess which is the real answer. You get points for picking the right answer, or if someone picks your answer. It’s very similar to games like Balderdash or Fibbish.
This game requires that all players have the app loaded onto their own phones, along with a solid internet or Wi-Fi connection. There are in-app purchases to unlock new categories, or decks, but there’s enough variety in what’s included for free for an evening’s worth of fun.
Who Can’t Draw?
Get your friends and family to flex their artistic skills (or lack of said skills) and find out Who Can’t Draw. The first artist gets a word and does their best to draw a picture of that word. The phone is then passed around the room, with each person trying to do their best to copy the drawing they were passed… in just 15 seconds. It’s essentially a sketching version of the old schoolyard game of telephone. Once the phone reaches the last person in the game, they must try and guess what the original word.
At the end of each round, you’re shown a results page with everyone’s drawing. It’s hilarious to see how the interpretation changes from person to person, as guessed word and the original word are rarely the same.
Another social drawing game, Teledoodle is a mobile version of Telestrations that can be played on a single device with up to 8 people. Drawers get up to a minute to create their masterpieces, but it’s ultimately up to the guesser to determine what was drawn. That guess is then passed to another drawer who must interpret what they are given so on and so on until everyone has had a turn. Then, it’s time to see how the drawings and guesses progressed, often with outrageous results.
Love it or hate it, charades is a classic party game that’s perfect for all ages. The Charades app takes the format and brings it into the 21st century by holding your phone up to your forehead and having your friends and family act out or try to give you clues for the word on the screen. With over 44 categories available in this free-to-play app, there’s a ton of fun to be had.
You might have played this game as Heads Up, which is typically what we would recommend here, but according to reports from the Google Play Store, a recent update has caused the app to become unstable for many users. If you find it working fine for you, it’s another great option.
Ticket To Ride
The award-winning train-based board game is a household favorite around these parts, and it’s also got an outstanding, fully-licenced app for Android. It’s a great little game to play with up to four other friends, featuring pass-and-play for playing on a single device, or local area network options if everyone has the app on their own phone. Setup and play time is short and brisk thanks to all the card dealing and pieces being handled digitally, making an excellently designed game even more fun to play.
This is a paid app, with in-app purchases to unlock other game boards. Given the price of the physical version of the game, the combo that includes all expansions and versions is a great deal that increases the game’s replayability tenfold.
If you’ve got a Chromecast, you’ve also got a digital version of Cards Against Humanity to play as a two-screened experience with your TV and phones. It’s an open-sourced game that actually allows you to go in and create your own decks to play with if you so desire, or choose a deck from the deep database of user-created decks. Up to 10 people can play at one time, and players are free to connect or disconnect in the middle of a game.
If you’re not familiar with CAH, it’s notorious for its not-safe-for-work content. However, one of the benefits of Cardcast is that you can find a family-friendly deck to play, so that Granny isn’t offended… unless of course you’ve got a pretty cool Granny.
Big Web Quiz
Another quick and fun game to play on the Chromecast, Big Web Quiz is a fast and fun quiz game with cross-platform compatibility — whether your friends and family are on iOS or Android, everyone is able to download the app and connect to the Chromecast.
Up to six people can connect up and play. Everyone watches the screen for the question, then uses their phone to answer. It’s a fun, colorful app filled with interesting and quirky trivia.
Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes!
It’s not too often we get to recommend a VR game for a party or social gathering given how isolating a typical VR experience is… but Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes is far from your typical VR game. It’s an intense game of bomb defusal that looks to recreate those movie moments where the main character gets diffusal instructions over the walkie talkie.
Available for both the Samsung Gear VR and Google’s Daydream View, one person straps the VR headset on and gets to look and manipulate the bomb, while everyone else in the room consults the bomb manual (downloadable for free from BombManual.com. Can your family or friends work together to defuse the bomb before it goes off? This game is quite stressful at times, but also a lot of fun.
If you’re playing on a Samsung Gear VR, you’ll need to download from the Oculus Store. If you’re playing on a Daydream View with your Pixel phone, you’ll want to download the version from the Google Play Store.
Anything we missed?
Got a party classic that didn’t make our list? Let us know in the comments below!