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10 Years of Mobile Gaming - Top 10 Greatest Mobile Games Ever

11-25-2017, 10:17 PM
Joined: Nov 2011
Posts: 283
10 Years of Mobile Gaming - Top 10 Greatest Mobile Games Ever

When Apple launched the original iPhone in 2007, nobody ever imagined phone games will grow into a 40 billion dollars a year industry, more than both PC and console gaming. But here we are, ten years later, when even Nintendo, at heart an anti-mobile gaming company's stock price jumped big time when they finally launched a successful mobile game in Fire Emblem Heroes.

This list is about the greatest mobile games ever. I am only going to pick the best in-genre, games that started complete new trends, dominated specific market segments and inspired other success stories. It doesn't matter if a specific idea has been done before, iPhone itself was not a new idea but it took smartphone to unprecedented heights.

I also strongly believe successful mobile games need to be built for the platform. Straight up ports like GTA San Andreas or Final Fantasy 7, they were iconic for their time on their platform, you can make a little money off nostalgia, but they will never be able to compete against games built for mobile audience from day one in the current era.

Finally, one can acknowledge greatness, impact and influence without enjoying a particular genre. I could never get into Candy Crush, but I don't believe someone playing Candy Crush is a "lesser" gamer than me playing Hearthstone. At end of the day, a great game is a great game regardless of genre. It is the same way I could never get into Mario/Zelda games but understand why they are auto-includes in any greatest console game of all time discussions.

To complete in a 40 billion dollar a year industry like mobile is every bit as difficult, if not more so than PC and Console AAA games. The amount of work a developer like Supercell put in to keep their players spend hundreds of millions of dollars, five years after release is simply mind blowing. It is no less difficult than building the next Skyrim. I understand traditional gamers still discriminate mobile and will not include mobile games in greatest of all time lists, but time will change as their favorite studios switch to mobile for their main source of revenue.

Without further ado:

1) Clash of Clans - The base builder game that started it all and inspired countless clones. At its peak, Clash of Clan was top 10 grossing in every major market: US, Europe, China, Japan and Korea, an unprecedented feat. Like all Supercell games, it has a single global server for both iOS and Android, so you are truly playing against the world. You can log in every 12-24 hours and treat it like Farmville, or you can play in a hardcore clan and compete in intense clan wars and spend hours to optimize your base layout against intruders. Five years later, it is still going strong, still a top 10 grossing game globally, a testament in how well Supercell maintained this franchise. Countless base builders followed suit and many went on to grow into their own success stories, Game of War including Supercell's own Boom Beach. None have truly surpassed the original.

2) Puzzles and Dragons - The first mega success in gacha games and the first mobile game to accumulate one billion dollars in revenue. At one point, Puzzles and Dragons pushed its publisher Gungho's market value above the mighty Nintendo. Skill-driven match 3 where players can perform dazzling combos and battle against some of the most difficult PVE encounters on a mobile phone. Throw in the original gacha system, and once again you have a game that is still top 10 grossing in Japan, five years after its release date. More importantly, Puzzles and Dragons's mega success inspired other developers to release their own take on gacha with different game play, from Monster Strike to Fate Grand Order to Nintendo's own Fire Emblem Heroes. Other publishers eventually realized players did not really want high skill cap game on a mobile phones, they want simpler game play and more refined gatcha systems. Puzzles and Dragons however, paved the way for all other gacha games to follow.

3) Candy Crush Sega - Imagine a single mobile franchise making combined revenue of Blizzard's entire portfolio? That is exactly what happened in Q3 2017 in Activision/Blizzard's earnings report. Five years after its launch, what looked like a more polished Bejeweled match-3 clone then turned in $530 million dollars in a quarter. King implemented many innovative marketing techniques (socializing your game play on Facebook, limited lives instead of energy timer, showering player with rewards that keep them coming back) that became standard in mobile gaming.

4) Honor of Kings (Arena of Valor in Western World) - There have been many efforts to create a great MOBA experience on smartphone. Vainglory was a decent effort from a small publisher but never made any progress on the top 100 grossing charts. Honor of Kings shattered all of this. Tencent found the perfect balance between touch screen controls and stripped away all the complexity of League of Legends and only kept its core essence, and made the game accessible to everyone from grocery store owners to teenage girls and ran all the way up to 200 million players per month. The Chinese government had to impose a ban of the game after 9PM for kids under age 12 and 1 hour daily limit. Tencent now has world's #1 grossing PC game in League of Legends and #1 grossing mobile game in Honor of Kings as it ran past Facebook to become world's fifth most valuable company. Ironically, both games are 100% skill based, zero advantage for pay-to-win players, something we hope to see more of down the road.

5) Pokemon Go - Thanks to Nintendo's IP, Pokemon Go turned into a worldwide cultural phenomenon and put argument reality based gaming on the map. Trainers all over the world roamed the streets and created a tremendous sense of positiveness. Gamers met new people in real life and got more exercise as part of the process. One year later, it is still a top 20 grossing game world wide, and embarrassed Nintendo's own first party efforts (although Animal Crossing may change that).

6) Hearthstone - The only pocketable game streamed on Twitch top 10 night after night. Blizzard has world's most successful TCG by a huge margin and it transitioned perfectly onto the mobile platform. While many have criticized the RNG nature of the game, the wow moments made it much more suitable for streaming than other games. The flashy graphics, great sound/voice acting and high production values made it instant appealing to people who normally don't play TCG games. Blizzard has consciously made the game casual enough so it can co-exist with other mobile games. Player only need to log on once every three days to clear their daily quests, once a week to collect their tavern brawl card pack. The arena mode gives everyone a fair chance regardless of their collection. Both features were adopted by Clash Royale later and inspired Supercell to come up with its second biggest hit of the decade.

7) Angry Birds - The game that put mobile gaming on the map, along with Fruit Ninja, Doodle Jump, Plant vs Zombies and many other early games. None of the developers of the time successfully transitioned to the billion dollar big league years, but they all contributed to the industry in its infancy. Angry Bird was clearly the most iconic game of the era and its publisher took advantage of the momentum to fire off its IPO. Simple, physics-based touch game play was appealing to many at the time and inspired many others (Flappy Bird anyone?)

8) Clash Royale - The only company with two games on this list. Supercell took the best of real time strategy games and condensed them into intense 3 minute matches suitable for mobile devices. A global server for every player in the world in real time, I have personally never experienced any lag playing 1v1 or 2v2 and that alone is a incredible accomplishment. Throw in addictive card collections, upgrades, clan donations, timer on treasure chests. Supercell once again created the formula for other publishers looking to provide quick 1v1 experiences. It is also the only mobile game with a $1 million dollar prize pool. Golf Clash (a major success story on its own) and Capcom's Puzzle Fighter both took elements from Clash Royale.

9) Summoners War - Despite the lack of strong ip, COM2US took the best of Japanese gacha games, added Clash of Clans style guild battles, and now real time arena matches against other players with pick/ban systems with 40K viewers on Twitch during tournament time. At its peak, along with Clash of Clans it is the only top 20 grossing mobile game across all five major markets (US, Europe, China, Japan and Korea), and the developers did a marvelous job extending the game's life span over the years, keeping it on top 20 grossing chart world wide, three years after its release. Unlike Japanese gacha games, Summoners War is big on PVP and offers auto-play to make grinding easier. It also has a refreshing level up system allowing you to level up any monster to six stars and also puts a big emphasis on runes (equipment) quality. Onmyouji, a Chinese take on the core Summoners War system with high production values, went on to become a top 10 grossing game world wide.

10) Infinity Blade - Set the bar for mobile graphics and Chair was invited to every Apple iPhone launch in the early days. It opened the world's eyes on what smartphone games can look like, and the second game of the series went on to become the only IGN 10 of 10 mobile game. While the developer never fully embraced the free-to-play model and was eventually left behind, they still showed the world how you can make $20 million revenue with a small development team long before bigger companies followed suit.
11-26-2017, 05:28 AM
Joined: Dec 2015
Location: UK
Posts: 1,014
Hmm, interesting - and very subjective - list. If you'd presented them as perhaps the 10 greatest in terms of monetisation, you'd certainly have a very strong argument.

The trouble is, few of those games are actually that interesting. Most of them specialise in that "one more go, one more grind" dynamic that lends itself so well to F2P cash-ins and, while that's a hugely impressive achievement, I'm not sure all of them are that much fun to play. Admittedly, their billions in revenue suggest I'm wrong.

I think you glossed over some of the other, IMHO, worthier candidates, such as Fruit Ninja, Cut the Rope and PvZ. I'd throw in The Room series and Sorcery, but others have compiled these lists in the past with dozens of worthy candidates.

Interesting read, nevertheless.

2018 GOTY nominations: You're joking, right? I'm still playing games I got in 2015...
Switch ID: Krillin 5948-6652-1589
11-26-2017, 05:43 AM
Joined: Jan 2011
Location: England
Posts: 11,291
Yeah very subjective ! Only played two of those for a bit (angry birds) and got bored. Infinity blade is a classic though.

The rest to me are mostly freemium hell games which I wouldn’t go near. Be nice if someone did a premium games list. Candy crush to me is one of the worst games, purposely hooks you in to get you to spend more and more

If I wanted to show friends how good mobile gaming is I would only show them infinity blade out of that list. Many of the others are depressing (candy crush, Pokemon etc)

Last edited by psj3809; 11-26-2017 at 05:45 AM.
11-28-2017, 04:00 AM
Joined: Jan 2012
Location: Philippines
Posts: 22,657
Top10 games in Apple and the Developer/Publisher's Eyes. At least that's what i would have titled it.

Except for Infinity Blade and maybe even Hearthstone. Those 2 games have set standards for mobile-centric RPG and strategy game.

But i understand each one of us has our own opinions.

If it's just iOS originals, i would say Monument Valley, Fruit Ninja, Goblin Sword, Oceanhorn, Battleheart Legacy, Implosion, Duet, Super Hexagon, Teeny Titans, Inks, 80 Days, Infinity Blade (ok the list is getting long), would belong into my list... Or at least some of them (because i didnt include some of the freemiums that i think are fantastic like Land Sliders, Tomb of the Mask or the classic Temple Run titles).

And then there are the ports which are kings in their own rights, like the Final Fantasy titles, TWEWY, VVVVVV, KOTOR, Evoland, and my all-time favorite game Monster Hunter Freedom Unite.

Exact-Psience My 2014 Top 10 Games of the Year: Monster Hunter Freedom Unite, Hearthstone, VVVVVV, Battleheart Legacy, Wayward Souls, Bug Heroes 2, Powerpuff Girls Defenders of Townsville, Deep Loot, Monument Valley, Bioshock Honorable Mentions: Traps N Gemstones, Bardbarian, Goblin Sword

Last edited by Exact-Psience; 11-28-2017 at 04:05 AM.