Updated: 30 great games you can play on a Netbook

Like just about everyone else on the planet, you broke down and purchased a Netbook. Somewhere along the way, the thought creeps in--maybe I can find some games that'll run on this wimpy Intel Atom processor and integrated graphics...

Dan Ackerman Editorial Director / Computers and Gaming
Dan Ackerman leads CNET's coverage of computers and gaming hardware. A New York native and former radio DJ, he's also a regular TV talking head and the author of "The Tetris Effect" (Hachette/PublicAffairs), a non-fiction gaming and business history book that has earned rave reviews from the New York Times, Fortune, LA Review of Books, and many other publications. "Upends the standard Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs/Mark Zuckerberg technology-creation myth... the story shines." -- The New York Times
Expertise I've been testing and reviewing computer and gaming hardware for over 20 years, covering every console launch since the Dreamcast and every MacBook...ever. Credentials
  • Author of the award-winning, NY Times-reviewed nonfiction book The Tetris Effect; Longtime consumer technology expert for CBS Mornings
Dan Ackerman
3 min read

The third Deus Ex game is in development, while the original is available on Steam.

Update, July 7: This post has been updated to include additional games.

It's time to add a new selection of entries to our list of PC games well-suited for Netbooks. Especially as we expect to see many of these low-cost, low-power laptops in the hands of students during the back-to-school season, it's important to have a little action/RPG/adventure/puzzle break handy when one gets tired of taking lecture notes.

As usual, many of these entries are re-releases of classic games, originally available when even high-end computer hardware was at best comparable with today's entry-level systems. Online services such as Good Old Games and Steam are great resources for these.

One important exception is the new online gaming service OnLive, which takes current high-end PC games, renders the 3D graphics remotely, then streams you the video as you play. It sounds like a crazy idea, but it actually works pretty well, even on Netbooks. Check out our extensive hands-on look at OnLive here.

Updated: Thirty great games you can play on a Netbook (photos)

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(Original post continues below:)

Since we put together our first Netbook-friendly PC game list, we've gotten many excellent suggestions from readers for new additions. We've also finally seen some long-awaited new entries from the classic Sierra/Activisionlibrary come to the popular GOG.com retro gaming Web site (including one of our long-time faves, Gabriel Knight), which gives us even more to choose from.

The new 2010 crop of Netbooks sadly don't offer much in the way for performance improvements. Instead, systems with the latest Intel Atom N450 CPU have made big gains in battery life. That's always a plus, but it also means our standard admonitions about not expecting too much from your Netbook in terms of performance remain in effect. That said, this collection (which includes links to download or play the games themselves) should help make your Netbook a pretty decent mobile gaming machine.

Like just about everyone else on the planet, you broke down and purchased a Netbook. After all, these low-cost, low-power laptops are great for tossing in your bag for a trip, working at the coffee shop, or just taking to class.

You knew all along that these systems were not made for gaming, and obviously you planned to spend all your time doing Netbook-like things such as Web surfing and working on office docs. Still, somewhere along the way, the thought crept in--maybe I can find some games that'll run on an Intel Atom processor and integrated graphics...

In the name of science, we loaded up a wide variety of games and asked friends and associates what games they had successfully played, all to help us compile this list of Netbook-friendly titles. They range from free to around $20; some are re-released PC classics, some are Web-based casual games, and a few are even from that fast-growing social-gaming genre found on Facebook (such as FarmVille).

Browse through the slideshow below to see our current favorites (and links to where you can download or play them). Bookmark this page for periodic updates as we find new games, or suggest your own Netbook favorites in the comments section below. Most of these will run on any Netbook with Windows 7 or XP, 1GB of RAM, and an Intel Atom processor. A handful are recommended only for Netbooks with Nvidia's Ion graphics.

Note: If you dig into your old dusty CD and DVD binders, there's no doubt you can find a ton of great classic PC games to try (we just found our original discs for both Grim Fandango and System Shock 2), but since your Netbook doesn't have an internal optical drive, we're restricting this list to games one can download from legit online sources, such as Steam or GOG.com.

> Need more? Follow me at twitter.com/danackerman.
> Get a Netbook primer in our Netbook Quick Guide.
> More on Netbooks and video games every week on the Digital City video podcast.