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10 games from 2014 that everyone in the industry should have played

Your end of year primer
10 games from 2014 that everyone in the industry should have played

"If you're going to sell people tires, you should probably know a thing or two about cars," is a line of 'wisdom' that tumbled out of my mouth, along with a mouthful of sushi, as myself and the rest of the Steel Media team caught up over dinner during Slush 2014 in Helsinki.

We'd been talking about the need for everyone in the games industry, regardless of their title, role, or level, to familiarise themselves with the state of play in games.

If you don't know your Clash of Clans from your Game of War, then what hope do you possibly have to understand their fundamental differences, why they're popular, and what they're doing that's so exciting for the game playing public?

Or to put it another way, never trust a thin cook...

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So with that in mind, we've put together a list of the ten games from 2014 that everyone working in the world of making, selling, advertising, testing, investing in, and acquiring users for mobile games should have played (or at least seen video footage of!)

Just one note: these aren't necessarily the biggest selling titles. Some make our list because they show us something new and exciting, others because they're a good representation of a type of play that's popular, and still others because they attempt something different that may well shape the gaming landscape in 2015.

#1: Find the Line

We've had the free-to-play model for years, but obvious mistakes are still being made and they're ruining potentially fantastic games.

Though it's now been updated to include an ads-free option, at launch Find the Line interrupted its serene, minimalist art experience between stages with obnoxious and loud video ads, destroying the sense of tranquillity it was clearly going for.

Worth playing in its vanilla state, then dropping the couple of dollars to see the difference the IAP makes.


#2: Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft

Is this it? Have we reached the promised land? Are western hardcore gamers finally beginning to embrace free-to-play?

If Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft is anything to go by, the answer is an emphatic "yes".

Ostensibly a faster and more accessible take on Magic: The Gathering, this collectible card game has been pulling in serious sums of cash for Blizzard through sales of packs and access to chunky expansions, and it's still only available on tablets and PCs.


#3: Kim Kardashian: Hollywood

I'm not a fan of Kim Kardashian: Hollywood personally, though I know those on who are, and there's no denying the incredible effect her endorsement has made to this reskinned social celebrity grind.

For further proof, see the boost in installs to Crazy Taxi: City Rush after Hulk Hogan got involved.

Never underestimate the power of celebrity.


#4: Lumo Deliveries

Lumo Deliveries doesn't want your full attention, and it certainly doesn't want you to dedicate hours of your life to the pursuit of running an international delivery company.

It wants you to check in when the ads are on, come back every 20 minutes or so to do a couple of very simple, very quick actions, then collect your rewards as you gradually build your empire.

It's a very different approach to games design, and it's netted Lumo Developments high ranking in the App Store charts.


#5: Monument Valley

Though it's vastly overshadowed by the freemium model, paid games still have a place in mobile gaming, as seen in the breathtaking Monument Valley.

Not only will players pay an upfront cost for their games, they'll pay for updates that add extra content to that game too.

It has to be the right game of course, and word of mouth from the press is crucial here, but ultimately who wouldn't mind paying for something as achingly beautiful and well executed as this Escherian puzzler.


#6: Motorsport Manager

Despite assertions from some in the industry, it is still possible to be a one-man indie and find incredible success on mobile.

Motorsport Manager is a labour of love by Christian West, and at one point during 2014 was competing with Minecraft: Pocket Edition for the top spot in the UK paid charts.

A hyper addictive management game with oodles of content and gorgeous presentation, Motorsport Manager should serve as a beacon of hope for indies working on mobile in 2015.


#7: Skylanders Trap Team

The general line of thinking in mobile is that major publishers from the console world simply don't understand how to make mobile games.

While I'd say that's generally true, device power and comparability is beginning to get to the point that they may not need to know how to make a mobile game, they can just port their current titles to work on mobile at launch.

Skylanders Trap Team is an amazing example of this, and includes a controller, collectible toys, and the visuals of an Xbox 360 title.


#8: Tiny Realms

All sorts of genres on mobile have been done to death by this point, but that doesn't mean that there isn't room for improvements to be made.

Take Clash of Clans, for example: its structure has been emulated by seemingly everyone at this point, including the company that created it.

However, in Tiny Realms we see there's still space for true advancement and innovation, with the game sporting more strategy, greater control, better AI, deeper mechanics, and a richer universe than Supercell's effort.


#9: Turbo Dismount

YouTube (and video in general) continues to be such a massive driver of installs that in 2014 we saw games being made specifically to appeal to YouTubers, Twitch stars, and those dabbling with Everyplay and the like.

Turbo Dismount gives you a selection of vehicles, a poseable crash test dummy, and a number of dangerous environments with which to smash them into - perfect YouTube fodder, and the game was expectedly picked up by the community there.

See also Goat Simulator.


#10: Vainglory

In the much anticipated, graphically astounding MOBA Vainglory - and specifically in Apple's major support of it - we see the technology giant finally beginning to officially embrace core gamers and actively chase them as a demographic.

Highlighting the game through key notes and conferences, dedicating prime App Store real estate, and even championing the gamer in a recent ad: a Jobs-less Apple is finally publicly accepting that play is one of the primary uses of its high-end consumer devices.