10 quietly popular games on PC

Naraka promotion image with Nier characters standing in front of a moon
(Image credit: 24 Entertainment)

PC gaming is so ubiquitous and inherently decentralized that there are entire games and communities that go unnoticed all the time. It's a global hobby, and that means some games won't get the same level of attention as others. But that doesn't make them any less significant.

Over on Steam, there are games that routinely sit in its most played list that don't get talked about as much as the others. Most people could guess that Counter-Strike 2 is near the top, or that PUBG is surely close by, but they might not assume a zombie survival game that looks like Roblox is up there too.

In no particular order, I've gathered up 10 games that you might not realize attract lots off players in them every day. Some of them are the kind of games you could play for a few minutes at a time and others are the sort you can lose your whole night to. 

Each one of these stealth hits deserves its own unique award for flourishing in the sea of PC games out there. And if you're not familiar with them, I've tried to pick one defining feature that sets them apart from everything else.

Friday Night Funkin'

(Image credit: The Funkin' Crew Inc.)

🏆 Best Homage To The Flash Game Era 

Play it for its hundreds of almost-copyright-infringing mods | Find it on Newgrounds

We've all had to enter a rap battle against our greatest rivals to protect our partner, so they made a videogame about it. Friday Night Funkin' is an open source rhythm game where the setup is simple: You play as Boyfriend and try to tap your arrow keys to the beat of the song so that you can win with a high score and keep dating Girlfriend. 

Like a lot of music games on PC, Friday Night Funkin' is backed by a community of modders stuffing it with new tracks to play. But some mods go even further and change the entire game into a horror experience or a playable meme about the McDonald's Grimace Shake. Over the years, Friday Night Funkin' has become a platform for different interpretations of its basic rhythm gameplay, and all of them are playable in your browser.

Payday 2

(Image credit: Overkill)

🏆 Game That Capitalized On Keanu Reeves Before Cyberpunk 2077 

Play it for it's huge roster of endlessly replayable heist missions | Find it on Steam

You'd be surprised to learn that, despite having a brand new sequel, Payday 2 continues to be one of the most popular co-op shooters on Steam. It launched 10 years ago in a rough state and gradually became the ultimate destination for a particulary brand of co-op fun: heist movie-style crimes with up to three friends.

Payday 2 fans love it for the thrill of completing its randomized objectives without tripping alarms and its utterly chaotic story that involves the President of the United States and John Wick. Missions are quick to complete too, so it's a great choice if you need to squeeze your gaming time into a short window.

Payday 3 could've held this spot, but it's currently mired in matchmaking issues due to its always-online requirement, and a community that isn't happy with how grindy it can be to unlock anything fun. Developer Starbreeze has promised to make things right (and maybe even start working on an offline mode). But in the mean time, players have just went back to the better heist game with more missions to repeat: Payday 2.


(Image credit: Smartly Dressed Games)

🏆Game Most Likely To Be Unfairly Judged For Its Artstyle 

Play it for huge maps stuffed with all kinds of weapons, vehicles, and secrets to find | Find it on Steam

Unturned, the zombie survival game that looks like Roblox, is consistently in Steam's top 20 most played games. It may not look like much, but it's a surprisingly complex survival game with several sprawling maps to explore. It's like Rust with PVP, PVE, and base building, but it's also free-to-play.

Regular updates with maps like A6 Polaris—which has loads of secrets to find—have kept players coming back to Unturned for years. Mods that add weapons like katanas or turn the whole thing into a Fallout game are popular, too.


(Image credit: Wemade Next)

🏆 The Most UI Ever In A Game

Play it for its healthy amount of players ready to face off in its open world PVP | Find it on Steam

Mir4 is maybe the strangest game here. It's a free-to-play MMO that is also an idle game like Cookie Clicker. It has thousands of players watching their characters auto-run, auto-attack, and auto-loot things over and over. I can't tell if people legitimately enjoy it for its fantasy world and loot or if they just like seeing numbers go up.

Outside of Steam, Mir4 is an NFT game. You can sell your character for crypto and even mine some while you play, apparently. None of that is available in the Steam version though, which averages around 27,000 players every day. All of its players seem to stick around for its PVP battles that are surprisingly complex.

VR Chat

(Image credit: VR Chat Inc.)

🏆 The Most Humble Metaverse

Play it for its huge variety of activities and spaces to hang out in as whoever you want to be | Find it on Steam

VR Chat is a little misleading because you don't actually need a VR headset to play it. It's more fun that way, but you can turn yourself into a Genshin Impact character and explore someone's asset rip of Lego Island's map from the comfort of a standard PC setup. VR Chat is a place to hang out, play games, or explore user-made levels as a 3D avatar.

There's nothing particularly shocking about people wanting to step into a virtual body and interact with people. PC gamers have been doing that for ages in MMOs like Second Life. VR Chat just happens to be the latest version of that with heaps of things to do in it. Once I played a whole escape room with a friend, and then right after we accidentally found a nightclub for furries. The possibilities in VR Chat feel endless and I think that's why so many people continue to play it.

Naraka: Bladepoint

(Image credit: 24 Entertainment)

🏆 Best Sword Duels In A Battle Royale Game

Play it for its intense, strategic melee combat | Find it on Steam

Naraka: Bladepoint is near the top of Steam's most-played games every day, but probably not during the hours you're awake. It's mostly popular in Asia, big enough that it recently swapped over to a free-to-play model and did a whole Nier: Automata collab where you could play as 2B. This is a battle royale game that knows exactly who it's for and has quickly found its niche in such a massive genre. Not many other games let you fight with 59 other players with swords and magic and impressive parkour moves.

Melee combat games aren't as common as shooters and that's why a community grew around Naraka: Bladepoint. It has a complex combat system that requires almost Soulslike precision in 1v1 duels, and it has grappling hooks. Everyone loves grappling hooks.


(Image credit: Titan Forge Games)

🏆 Only MOBA That Goes Hard Enough To Have Slipknot Skins

Play it for its huge variety of characters and action-heavy team-based combat | Find it on Steam

Smite is the MOBA you don't seem to hear about often, but it hasn't gone anywhere in the last nine years. You play as different mythological gods or goddesses in a team of five. Unlike Dota 2 or League of Legends, however, Smite is played from a behind-the-back third-person perspective and feels a little more active as a result.

Smite has steadily grown its roster of characters and continues to release updates that shake up the meta. Players love it for its deep strategic complexity and action-game-like combat. It has the usual MOBA pitfalls like an incredibly steep learning curve, but fans say once it clicks, it like nothing else.

Black Desert

(Image credit: Pearl Abyss)

🏆 Most NSFW-Seeming Character Creator That Is Mostly SFW

Play it for its freeform sandbox gameplay with loads of different activities to dedicate hours to | Find it on Steam

A lot of MMOs tried to take what World of Warcraft popularized and give it more active combat. Black Desert is one of the few that did it well enough that it stuck around. This third-person MMO has all the usual features like housing and crafting, but most people like it for its fast combat, especially in PVP.

Black Desert isn't quite free-to-play, but regularly goes on sale for under $5. That has helped bring in a lot of players looking for an MMO that feels closer to a traditional action game. You get big explosive magic attacks and quick dodges like you're playing Dark Souls at double the speed. And if you have the time, you can start building an EVE Online-like production empire to amass loads of rewards over time. It's like the developers snuck in an entirely different game and I'm here for it. 


(Image credit: osk)

🏆 Best Tetris Game To Remind You You're Not That Good At Tetris

Play it for its highly competitive multiplayer modes and leaderboards | Find it on its official site

Tetr.io is one of the best ways to play classic Tetris on your PC. It's a browser-based game with a ranked ladder and casual modes. There's nothing fancy about it; it's Tetris with no real barriers to entry.

Tetr.io has maintained a large community of players because it takes its multiplayer pretty seriously. You can play against a ton of other players from around the world in its battle royale mode or 1v1 people trying to move up the leaderboards. There are plenty of ways to play Tetris out there, but Tetr.io is the best if you have a competitive edge.

Project Zomboid

(Image credit: The Indie Stone)

🏆 Game I Would Much Rather Watch Someone Else Play

Play it for its exceptionally detailed forms of systemic misery in a zombie apocalypse | Find it on Steam

Project Zomboid is an open world survival game with a 2D artstyle. It's been around for 10 years and exploded in popularity last year. Its developers overhauled many of the core systems of the game and it led to many players joining it to roleplay like people do in Grand Theft Auto Online. 

Project Zomboid might not look like much, but its huge map is full of things you can use to try to survive zombies and other players. You have to manage tons of resources like food and water and try to survive while the weather and seasons change. Even something as simple as breaking a window can get you cut up and in danger of dying. All these little systems and interactions create a uniquely hazardous experience that few other games can replicate.

Associate Editor

Tyler has covered games, games culture, and hardware for over a decade before joining PC Gamer as Associate Editor. He's done in-depth reporting on communities and games as well as criticism for sites like Polygon, Wired, and Waypoint. He's interested in the weird and the fascinating when it comes to games, spending time probing for stories and talking to the people involved. Tyler loves sinking into games like Final Fantasy 14, Overwatch, and Dark Souls to see what makes them tick and pluck out the parts worth talking about. His goal is to talk about games the way they are: broken, beautiful, and bizarre.