In the .biz realm, we often find ourselves wrapped up in the investments, deals and stats of the gaming world (and rightly so), but it’s also important to highlight the games themselves - the fruit of the labour that can only appear after years of research, funding and, of course, development.
Here are the most exciting mobile games of this past week, the developers and publishers behind them, and why, exactly, they've made the cut.
A new release from Dragon City creator Socialpoint, Top Troops launched this week as a medieval fantasy RPG with two key focuses: strategy and merge mechanics. Players can merge and level up troops to build a customised army of Ninja Moles, Imperial Elves and more while playing through the campaign or in PvP mode.
As one of the casual genre’s staple subsections, merge mechanics can be a powerful ingredient for a mobile game’s success - especially as the genre has come to increasingly prioritise high quality over low CPI gimmicks.
Socialpoint integrated eight titles from its gaming portfolio into AppGallery in 2021, with over 700 million downloads between them at the time. Top Troops, meanwhile, has launched on Apple's App Store and the Google Play Store with publisher Zynga, a company with a long history in mobile games from Farmville to Poker. With two grand studio legacies behind it, we’re excited to see how far Top Troops marches in the merge mobile market.
Coming from independent Argentinian developer Daniel Benmergui, Storyteller is a new game on iOS, Android and Steam that sees players solving puzzles, following love, revenge and betrayal narratives, and ultimately deciding how its characters’ stories will end.
The game was published by Annapurna Interactive and Netflix, making it ad-free with no in-app purchases. Through Netflix, there are also unique chapters, themes and a new character. Storyteller actually first released this March on the Nintendo Switch, but has now come to mobile where the puzzle genre proves so lucrative. In fact, puzzle games have generated a massive $42 billion to date on mobile.
Benmergui also developed the web browser game I Wish I Were The Moon, which released way back in 2008.
Another puzzle game this week is Puzzup Amitoi, with developer NCSoft looking for a slice of the match3 popularity pie. This title aims to stand out from the crowd by giving players the power to change the direction of incoming blocks; it also features social aspects like a clan system with language translation available between players, very much on brand for NCSoft given its Purple platform is all about keeping connected with online allies.
Of course, NCSoft is also known for Lineage M, the first mobile game in the Lineage franchise which ranks among the 10 biggest mobile titles of all time. Companies getting in on the puzzle action is something we can only expect to see more of after the major success of Royal Match, which dethroned Candy Crush this year and proved that any game can become king.
Puzzup Amitoi is out now on iOS and Android.
Like Storyteller, Elderand is actually a cross-platform title that released on the Nintendo Switch earlier this year. Now it has finally made its move onto mobile, available on iOS and Android. This Lovecraftian action title takes the nostalgia route with pixel graphics and Metroidvania platformer gameplay. Being an RPG already puts Elderand in good stead, landing among the most lucrative mobile genres of 2023.
Elderand has previously won Best Game and Best Game Design in the Brazilian Gamepolitan awards, and follows a trend of console games coming to mobile at console quality. Also akin to certain other mobile ports, Elderand requires an upfront payment to play as opposed to the in-app purchase model used by most modern mobile games.
In fact, a large number of PID Games titles take the upfront payment model - like Bibots, Sigma Theory, Pictoquest and Spitkiss. Other PID Game titles - Siege Castles and the humourous Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion, for example - do feature in-app purchases, utilising a model that has risen in revenue generation by over 20% this year.
Mortal Kombat: Onslaught
A new action cRPG in the Mortal Kombat franchise, Onslaught is this week’s only entry that isn’t quite out yet. The game is launching on October 17 globally but is already available for pre-install - an approach that worked extremely well for another mobile adaptation of a popular franchise, Monster Hunter Now. Also similar to the Capcom title, registering for Onslaught is being incentivised with increasingly impressive rewards the higher these pre-installs reach by launch. Over 500,000 players have registered so far.
Like more and more mobile games, graphics are at AAA quality rivalling consoles, but this one will be free to download and instead take the in-app purchase monetisation route. Onslaught’s developer is NetherRealm Studios - a studio with multiple Mortal Kombat games under its belt already, in addition to DC-licenced mobile games like Batman Arkham City Lockdown. The new game is being published by parent company Warner Bros. Games, with Harry Potter: Magic Awakened among its recent successes.
We’re excited to experience Mortal Kombat: Onslaught’s mobile-exclusive story with iconic series fighters later this month.