After a few golden years of fantastic entries, it seems like most mobile sports games have succumbed to the freemium model. There are far too few quality titles available that just let you jump into the game without having to deal with player cards, pointless upgrades, or waiting for stamina meters to refill. Nearly all the top mobile sports game franchises have switched over to a team-building system that requires you to unlock (or buy) card packs to upgrade your team.
However, there are still great games to be played. We've tried to cover the five major North American sports here with some extras thrown in for fun. Be sure to note which games are more sim-based for the hardcore sports fan and which ones offer a more arcade-like option for casual players.
Want something a bit less sporty? We have a list of the best Android games overall, too!
NBA 2K20 is a rare premium sports title for Android that doesn't rely on microtransactions and loot crates, which automatically makes it a great game, in my opinion. The graphics and presentation are top-notch and compare nicely to the console versions.
NBA 2K20 offers multiple game modes including the MyCareer Run story mode, Run The Streets, and NBA Stories for reliving some of the greatest moments in NBA History. There's also online multiplayer and full support for Bluetooth controllers.
This game is a rare treat as far as sports games on Android go. Even if you're not the biggest basketball fan, this is your best bet for a premium sportsball title on your phone.
NBA Jam is a classic title that continues to be updated by the developers and remains one of the most polished and fun sports games in the Google Play Store. This remake of the 90s arcade classic features all the fast-paced two-on-two action you remember with upgraded graphics and rosters.
There are four modes for you to dive into, including local and online multiplayer. Touch controls are simple and responsive, making it super easy to set up an epic alley-oop, or sink three shots in a row and hear Tim Kitzrow — the original NBA JAM commentator — yell his infamous line, "HE'S ON FIRE!"
MLB 9 Innings 20
The 2020 edition of Nine Innings builds on the franchise's great graphics and gameplay, featuring all 30 MLB ballparks and over 1,700 players carefully rendered in 3D for an authentic gameplay experience. There are multiple ways to play with gameplay optimized for one-handed controls.
You have the choice to play on offense or defense or let the game run on autoplay. You can go against other players across the world in the Ranked Battle, Clutch Hits, and Club Battle modes. Or you can also just stick to the League Mode — whichever appeals to you.
Microtransactions here are what you'd expect. You have a selection of different player packs, going all the way up to $99.99. These packs contain different tiers of players and gear, or you can pay to upgrade your existing players with a Grade Increase Ticket. Time limitations, like "Players of the Month" for the Preferred Player Pack, exist to increase FOMO, too. All of that being said, this is easily the best baseball game available for Android.
eFootball PES 2020
Konami's celebrated football franchise is back for 2020 with enhanced dribble controls and options for local and real-time online matches against friends or strangers. It's all part of the developer's focus on taking this mobile soccer game into the eSports realm with competitive online play that's responsive and rewarding.
The Inspire system lets you influence how your teammates play, adding new levels of complexity. This game tries its best to provide you with a tailored experience based on your playstyle. I'd say the biggest downside with eFootball PES 2020 is that it's another freemium sports game; it's also a very large download.
Like other games of its kind, eFootball PES 2020 contains the usual spread of microtransactions. Your main purchase options are to buy myClub Coins, ranging from $0.99 to $99.99 with the normal bundle deals to get you "free" additional Coins. These Coins let you recruit better players quicker, sign better managers, borrow players from other people for longer, renew contracts, and you probably guessed this one, refresh your stamina. You can also buy Squad packs, like Manchester United, ensuring that you'll always have the latest players for your in-game squad.
One of my personal favorites on this list, Kick Hero blends a side-scrolling brawler with a sports game. Honestly, the latter descriptor is pretty loose, but hey, the game involves kicking soccer balls at people. It's hilarious and I recommend you give it a try.
The main gist is to tap the screen once the ball hits the circle and score combos with perfect timing. You kick fireballs, drop lightning, and other cool effects. There are boss battles, the art style is awesome, and Kick Hero is otherwise just a wonderful game.
You can pay a mere $1.99 to remove ads or spend a few extra bucks to unlock different characters. Otherwise, you earn coins during the game to unlock additional goodies. So if you like Kick Hero, you remove the ads and get the two DLC characters at your leisure.
Motorball is the closest we've gotten to Rocket League on Android. The goal is to launch a giant soccer ball into your opponent's goal, while protecting yours, using the RC car you control. It's on a much smaller scale than the incredibly popular Rocket League, but that makes it perfect for mobile gaming.
From the cartoony graphics to the ultra simple gameplay, Motorball is easy to pick up and play, but somewhat difficult to master. It's still in beta at time of writing, but I didn't notice any kinks or bugs. Being a free-to-play game, Motorball does feature microtransactions to purchase in-game currency. This lets you buy new cosmetics like different cars, new wind-up keys, and alternate boost trails and decals.
While not really soccer per se, the spirit of the sport is here in Motorball. There are many ways to score on your opponent, or even score on yourself if you're not careful, and it's all-in-all a really fun game to kill some time.
Australian Open Game
This is the best tennis game I've found for Android. Developed by Big Ant Studios for Tennis Australia to help promote the Australian Open, this free title delivers a surprisingly robust number of gameplay options. You can play a quick match, beat the AO tournament to unlock the other Grand Slam events or play career mode with your customized player.
The default controls automatically position your player to return shots with swipes used to perform different shots, but there are settings for more advanced controls as well. You can also unlock all of the 2019 Australian Open players. As you might expect, the career mode gets progressively more difficult as you carry yourself to victory.
Madden NFL 21 Mobile Football
Whether we like it or not, Madden NFL Mobile Football reigns supreme among the few playable American football games available for Android, with the latest edition adding a redesigned GM mode.
This is the only way to play as or with your favorite NFL players and teams on Android. For your time, you get competitive play, dynamic football seasons, and new strategies to build your gameplay style around. There's also a co-op mode for you to help out your friends in their seasons or for them to help you.
The microtransactions are your typical fare. You start off with Madden Cash, the main in-game currency (there's also Gems). The prices start at $4.99 and go all the way up to $99.99, which isn't too unusual. Cash goes to buying in-game card packs, which unlock new players. You can also buy Stamina so that you can play more once you run out of energy. As I said, it's the usual stuff that we'd expect from a freemium title.
Ted Ginn: Kick Return Football
If Madden wasn't to your taste, but you still want some American football action, then check out Kick Return Football. It's a fun and unique take on the sport and reminds me of those old handheld football games from the '90s and '00s. Draw and swipe your way to the endzone!
This game is built for touch controls, and they're really easy to pick up and learn. Soon enough, you'll be managing your team and outwitting your opponent to victory. There are tournaments and startling good rewards for touchdowns and wins. There's still some real football strategy here, and even as someone who doesn't like football, I had fun with this one.
Sadly, there are microtransactions in Kick Return Football, some of which are blatantly pay-to-win. There's one that starts your team off with 21 points from the get-go, or another that adds an extra point to each touchdown. You can also double your in-game earnings. All of these seem to be one-time purchases, but there you go. And, of course, you can buy more of that in-game currency.
Golf Star is the best golfing game on Android, featuring excellent graphics and intuitive controls. The game lets you customize your golfer and jump into Career Mode, where you learn the ropes and hone your skills. It's going to take you a bit of time to figure out the intricacies of the physics and how to properly read the greens and aim your putts, but you'll pick it up in no time.
Beyond Career Mode, there are multiplayer modes such as Tournament Mode and Goodwill Match Mode that let you compete in one-on-one competitions against live opponents. It's a big game, though, so be sure you have space and bandwidth to install it.
The microtransactions involve buying Coins and GP to purchase cosmetics (some of which boost stats), consumable items to make playing the game easier, and VIP memberships to unlock better items each week.
OK Golf hearkens back to the simpler golf games from the arcade days. There aren't any fancy drills, clubs, and tournaments to worry about. Just drag back on the screen, aim, and let loose to watch the golf ball fly toward your intended destination. That's really all there is to it.
The graphics are simplistic, but they look great. The courses are varied and the simple gameplay keeps you hooked. I'm not really a golf fan, and I'm consequently deplorable at anything that has to do with the sport, but I liked OK Golf. It's pretty chill and it's only a couple of dollars on the Play Store. There aren't any additional ads or IAPs to worry about, either.
Grow in the Hole
Grow in the Hole is a minimalist golfing adventure where the ball grows bigger with each failed shot. You line up the trajectory and strength of each attempt and let it fly! Hopefully you make it in the hole because the larger the ball gets, the harder things become. The wacky physics engine doesn't help you much, either.
This is a side-view, procedurally-generated game that's a ton of fun. It supports local multiplayer, too, so that you can laugh at you and your friends' failures. There are a lot of different ways to play Grow in the Hole, including some plain weird modifiers that change up how things will play out. Seriously, give this one a try.
Grand Mountain Adventure: Snowboard Premiere
Grand Mountain Adventure feels like the spiritual successor to the 90s classic SkiFree, offering endless and calming gameplay. You get to explore the first mountain for free, completing timed runs to unlock new ski lifts that let you access new areas of the mountain.
There is a lot to explore just on the first mountain, let alone on the others. An in-app purchase unlocks the other seven mountains, along with the ability to shred powder on a gnarly snowboard. Featuring a ton of content, Grand Mountain Adventure is one of the best winter sports games for mobile.
Snowboard Party: World Tour
Snowboard Party: World Tour is easily the best snowboarding game available on the Play Store. The graphics are great, the pop-punk soundtrack is fitting, and the touch controls are surprisingly tight. There are also four different modes to choose from — Time-Attack, Freestyle, Big Air, and Halfpipe, along with a multiplayer mode for playing against your friends.
Master all of the fancy tricks, collect the different snowboards, and earn the highest score. There are 16 snowboarders to customize and upgrade, which you can do without spending a dime — although in-app purchases are included, which let you speed up progress, unlock additional XP or get temporary boosters, and remove ads. Snowboard Party is also compatible with controllers, too.
Skateboard Party 3 Pro
Fans of the classic Tony Hawk Pro Skater games from back in the day who lament the storied franchise's current state (not counting the upcoming remasters) should check out Skateboard Party 3. It's a throwback to those classic skateboarding games we loved before things went awry.
The game physics and controls feel very familiar and you're given a couple of game modes to choose from. In Career Mode, you get four minutes to explore the eight different locations and rack up a huge score, collect P-A-R-T-Y scattered around as floating letters, and find other hidden items.
Things are unlocked by spending experience points, which you collect by completing challenges and landing tricks. Another throwback to the good ol' days!
The only game I ever really played on Wii Sports was the bowling one, especially once I figured out how to do so without standing up. Speaking of bowling, our next game on this list is Bowling Crew. This is one of the best bowling games I've managed to find on the Play Store.
First off, Bowling Crew is a gorgeous 3D bowling game. Second, it's PvP-based. Third, it involves plenty of progression to keep you interested as you go along. You can unlock new bowling balls (through gameplay and microtransactions) so you have something nice to look at while you play. It's a ton of fun, easy to play, and there's a lot of replayability.
Of course, it wouldn't be a mobile game without the typical microtransaction gotchas. Your stamina meter is based on the chips you earn (which you can buy, of course). Gold is how you buy cases, which give you unlockable items like new ball cards, chips, and so on. There's a bunch of boosters and unlocks you can purchase, too.
Ever wanted to try your hand at virtual fencing? I sure did as soon as I heard of FIE Swordplay, a game that focuses solely on the fine art of fencing. There's a lot of content to play through as you learn legitimately real fencing techniques. Controls are simple to grasp and make the gameplay easy to get into.
FIE Swordplay features both a PvE campaign and PvP so you can test your skills. I wasn't very good, but I never had trouble finding a match. There's a lot of customization here, so you can fine-tune your gear and your appearance.
Of course, there are microtransactions, as you might expect from a free-to-play game. These let you purchase in-game cosmetics, but I found that I often had more currency than I had things to purchase in-game. The microtransactions feel like an afterthought, but in a good way. You can also buy new skins, like a musketeer and a knight, for five bucks each.
Pocket Run Pool
From the brilliant creators of Really Bad Chess comes Pocket Run Pool, a reimagining of the classic billiards games we've seen in the Play Store for years. The end goal is still the same: sink balls in various pockets. However, it's more of a high score seeker game than your standard pool.
Scores are determined by where and when you sink a ball, so there's some good strategy involved. Each pocket has a different score assigned to it, which changes after each shot. A scratch will cause you to lose a life and you only have three. Lose them all and it's game over. Besides being a unique way to play pool, it's just a good mobile game and great for killing time.
Updated December 2020: Added Grow in the Hole and Pocket Run Pool to our list!