Our Most Anticipated games of 2016 - Where are they now?

A look back at the year that could have been

Our Most Anticipated games of 2016 - Where are they now?

At the start of the year we listed 12 games that were due to come out in 2016 that, frankly, we couldn't wait to play.

In the end we were treated to major releases like Pokemon GO and Super Mario Run that literally no one could have predicted, which just proves how fast-moving the mobile industry really is.

But just because one or two games captured the eyes of everyone else on the planet doesn't mean that our anticipated games weren't going to come out - at least in most cases.

While we now keep a rolling Most Anticipated list to capture games as they come up, we thought it would be interesting to look back on the games we were most looking forward to this year, and see how well they performed - or if they made it to the App Store at all.

Click here to view the list »
  • 1 Age of Empires: World Domination

    Age of Empires: World Domination logo

    Developer: KLab Global
    Launch Date: N/A
    Status: Cancelled

    Age of Empires: World Domination had every chance to impress. It sounded like a return to form for the classic series, which had previously had a somewhat chequered past on mobile.

    We were looking forward to real-time battles, taking control of heroes from over the ages, and all the standard Age of Empires gameplay, albeit with a mobile free-to-play twist.

    Alas, it was not to be. The game was shut down on November 30th 2016 with no bonuses offered to its players who had previously poured hours and money into it.

    We reached out to KLab for some kind of explanation, but they simply told us that they were "not at liberty to discuss the reasons of termination".

  • 2 Clash Royale

    Clash Royale logo

    Developer: Supercell
    Launch Date: March 2nd 2016
    Status: Live

    We had high hopes for Supercell's fourth outing, and we weren't disappointed. Clash Royale had some strong competition over 2016, but it remains one of the biggest games of the year.

    A wholly new direction for the developer, Clash Royale eschewed the build-and-battle genre and went for a MOBA/CCG mix that soon became the standard for other games trying to match its level of success.

    Combining the characters of Clash of Clans with quick-fire gameplay proved to be a brilliant move, and earned the game Apple's Game of the Year on iPhone.

    It also raked in the cash and made steps toward being the next big mobile eSports title - although some of us doubted its ability to make a particularly large splash in that regard.

    All was going well for Clash Royale until Pokemon GO came along and got even non-mobile gamers interested in the medium, but we'll still remember the former game for the magnificent title it was.

  • 3 Crashlands

    Crashlands logo

    Developer: Butterscotch Shenanigans
    Launch Date: January 21st 2016
    Status: Live

    Crashlands suffered a series of heavy delays that eventually pushed it back to a release date of 2016, but it was definitely worth the wait.

    A hilarious and inventive survival game, Crashlands pulled off an amibitious cross-platform release that saw it launch on PC and mobile with the ability to continue your save no matter what you were playing on.

    It's got a huge open world to explore, hundreds of enemies to kill and absolutely gorgeous graphics to take in as you're doing all of the above.

    We managed to dig into the history of the game quite extensively in a Making Of interview with lead programmer Seth Coster, and found out just why the game took so long to make and how close the studio came to closing down as it worked on its most ambitious game ever.

    Butterscotch Shenanigans is continuing to work on the game too, with new updates and content being added throughout the year.

  • 4 CSR Racing 2

    CSR Racing 2 logo

    Developer: NaturalMotion
    Launch Date: June 29th 2016
    Status: Live

    Zynga-owned developer NaturalMotion may not have had the same level of fanfare as Supercell and Nintendo in 2016, but it still managed to release two of the year's biggest games, starting with racing sequel CSR Racing 2.

    Much like the first game, it's a rhythm-action racer that sees you facing off in drag races through the streets at night, tuning up fantastic looking cars, and proving yourself as the fastest racer out there.

    We might have been a bit negative about the title when it first launched - Jon Jordan said it wouldn't be enough to justify Zynga's purchasing of NaturalMotion, and Vlad Funkitov pointed out that the mobile market had changed quite a lot since the launch of the first CSR Racing.

    But in the end, it performed better than even Zynga expected, and became the top grossing racing game in over 50 countries on the App Store.

  • 5 Dawn of Titans

    Dawn of Titans logo

    Developer: NaturalMotion
    Launch Date: December 8th 2016
    Status: Live

    Another NaturalMotion title - and a game with the dubious accolade of "longest soft-launch period ever" - Dawn of Titans took its time getting here but seems like it was worth it.

    It's an epic strategy title with a focus on console-quality graphics, large-scale battles, and the titular Titans that rain hell down on any humans that try to take them down.

    We chatted to NaturalMotion's CEO Torsten Reil about the game's development and plans for the future, and he was confident that Dawn of Titans wasn't a "make or break" deal for the company.

    It's still too early to tell how well it's going to do though. We've looked at how the game monetises, and it passed our IAP Inspector's test - but only just. How the rest of the world will take to it is another question entirely.

  • 6 Marvel: Avengers Alliance 2

    Marvel: Avengers Alliance 2 logo

    Developer: Disney
    Launch Date: March 31st 2016
    Status: Shut Down

    Marvel: Avengers Alliance 2 is a game that had so much promise and potential, and one that we fully expected to do fantastically well for Disney after the success of the first title four years before.

    And yet, when it launched, it didn't really wow us. It lacked auto-play, a mechanic that is now considered a must-have for battlers to survive. And apparently it didn't wow the rest of the world either.

    After just six months of release, Disney announced that both of its Avengers Alliance titles were being canned, and then sacked 125 of the developer's staff as it refocused its business.

    It's a genuine shame that such a fate befell Avengers Alliance 2 and its staff, and a brutal reminder of just how much some studio's fate rides on the need for a mega-hit in the increasingly competitive mobile space.

  • 7 Micro Machines

    Micro Machines logo

    Developer: Chillingo
    Launch Date: July 12th 2016
    Status: Live

    Announced back in October 2015, Chillingo's mobile take on Micro Machines sounded like it could be a great new entry in the classic series.

    It was being made in collaboration with original developer Codemasters, it was free-to-play, and it had tiny cars racing around real-world locations, which is surely the only thing required for success.

    Instead it launched not with a bang, but a whimper. We didn't even notice its launch - it quietly shuffled its way off the Soft Launch list and we never mentioned its name again.

    It didn't capture much attention among gamers either. It peaked at 85 on the UK iOS top grossing charts the month it was launched, before steadily falling and lingering between 500 and 100. In the US it peaked at 631st place.

    App Annie top grossing ranks for Micro Machines in UK and US

  • 8 Mini Metro

    Mini Metro logo

    Developer: Dinosaur Polo Club
    Launch Date: October 18th 2016
    Status: Live

    Mini Metro might not have made it onto our Most Anticipated list if not for one writer's endless defence of the game, and now that it's made its way to mobile and found itself showered with praise, that writer is insufferable with his gloating.

    A puzzle game with a minimalist interface perfect for the medium, Mini Metro has you building transit networks and putting out fires as they come up, in a strange mix of tranquility and immense stress.

    It's a premium game, so unlikely to set the world on fire, and Dinosaur Polo Club haven't revealed any sales figures as yet, but it won numerous awards - it turned up on Apple's top iPad games of 2016, and it was nominated for a BAFTA earlier in the year.

  • 9 Prison Architect

    Prison Architect logo

    Developer: Introversion
    Launch Date: N/A
    Status: Unknown

    This was a bit a of longshot at the time, but with development still storming ahead on the PC version of the game, as it had been for almost six years, it was still a possibility.

    Introversion were quiet on the matter of a mobile release for all of 2016, save for a survey asking what devices and consoles people would like to see the game on.

    In the end, it appears consoles won out, as the game launched on both PS4 and Xbox One. Not long after, Introversion declared development on the PC version over, and will now be moving on to a new game.

    This doesn't necessarily mean a mobile version of Prison Architect is entirely out of the question - no one has at any point completely ruled it out.

    But with the developers moving on, and console versions having taken precedent over anything else, it seems unlikely we'll see the prison managment sim on smaller screens anytime soon.

  • 10 Super Meat Boy Forever

    Super Meat Boy Forever logo

    Developer: Team Meat
    Launch Date: N/A
    Status: Unknown

    At the start of the year we called this a "game that's more 'fingers crossed' than 'definitely coming out'", and it seems that we were right to hedge our bets.

    Team Meat has revealed absolutely no new info about Super Meat Boy Forever in 2016 - the game launched on the Wii U, and that was about it. It seems the team has totally moved on.

    Again, it could still see the light of day. There's been no official cancellation of the game, so there's still hope that the team is quietly working on the title.

    Edmund McMillen fans can however look forward to an iOS release of The Binding of Isaac "very soon" according to its developer as of November 2016. It had hoped for a 2016 release, but it appears to have been pushed back until early 2017 instead.

  • 11 Survivor Squad

    Survivor Squad logo

    Developer: ZeptoLab
    Launch Date: N/A
    Status: Unknown

    We wrote at the start of the year that we had a good feeling about Survivor Squad making its way out of soft launch in 2016. We were fools.

    A four-player co-op top-down shooter, the game was destined to have hundreds of zombies to kill with a variety of weapons and be a huge depature from ZeptoLab's usual casual fare.

    Sadly, the game eventually stopped updating and then vanished from soft launch without a trace. No word from ZeptoLab, which had released the game under a psuedonym in the first place. Just gone.

    We can't even hazard a guess at why the game would be cancelled - presumably ZeptoLab decided to focus on its other titles as Survivor Squad wasn't performing as well as expected internally.

  • 12 Zombie Gunship Inc.

    Zombie Gunship Inc. logo

    Developer: Limbic Software
    Launch Date: Early 2017
    Status: Soft Launched

    We heard absolutely nothing about Zombie Gunship Inc. during 2016, until one day in September when Flaregames confirmed the game would launch at the end of the year.

    It's still not managed that, and isn't likely to launch until 2017 at this point, but we noticed that the publisher had soft-launched a game by the name of Zombie Gunship Survival in October 2016.

    After breaking the news of Flaregames' new release, the studio itself made the official announcement that Zombie Gunship Survival was indeed Zombie Gunship Inc. by a new name, and we could see its global release some time soon.

    A free-to-play continuation in the mobile zombie killing franchise, the game has you firing down on the undead from a gunship way up the sky.


Ric is the Editor of PocketGamer.biz, having started out as a Staff Writer on the site back in 2015. He received an honourable mention in both the MCV and Develop 30 Under 30 lists in 2016 and refuses to let anyone forget about it.