Top 10 mobile game developers to watch in 2013

Top 10 mobile game developers to watch in 2013

Over the past four days - and with the top 10 still to follow on Monday - we've been counted down the companies we consider to be the best in the mobile gaming industry.

Of course, all such lists are - to a degree - subjective.

If we had the information, we could generate a top 50 in terms of total downloads, daily active users, or sales and profitability etc. Yet the comparative ease of ranking such information - if it were available - would make such a list lifeless and generic.

Instead, as we consider it, the strength of's annual top 50 is the combination of hard and soft information.

What's next?

Even so, as the big corporations come into mobile games, the top 50 is becoming more centred around financial success.

So while there's always the opportunity for small indies to hit a home run - Imangi Studios being this year's great example (indeed it featured in 2012's 10 to Watch) - our rankings, as the App Store, will become less dynamic

And that's where our 10 To Watch list comes into play.

Not as rigorously compiled as the main list, it's a personal view of companies I've followed in the mobile gaming space - ones I think have the potential to make it big this year.

It's not meant to be exhaustive, companies can only appear on the list for one year, and it's not a comparative rank - merely alphabetic.

It's also worth pointing out there are plenty more companies who could fit into this definition. To that extent, this is a subset of developers, while the point of the top 50 is that it's the set.

Click here to view the list »
  • East Side Games

    East Side Games logo

    Characteristing itself as "fiercely independent", Vancouver developer East Side Games is best known for its Facebook game Pot Farm, and it's now heavily into mobile too.

    The games it makes are very different from the norm, however, as demonstrated by romance and treasure game Ruby Skies and the beautifully animated 'gold barfing' game Dragon Up. Should one take off like Pot Farm, East Side will certainly be piling up the treasure.

  • Fireproof Games

    Fireproof Games logo

    UK studio Fireproof Games had a massive 2012, thanks to its debut iOS game The Room. Demonstrating its staff's previous experience making console games, and working as an outsource art agency, The Room combined beautiful artwork with a cerebral puzzle-based plot.

    It gained Apple's seal of approval as its iPad Game of the Year and has sold over 1.75 million copies. Next up comes the Android port, a large expansion pack, and the sequel.

  • Flaregames

    Flaregames logo

    Set up by Gameforge founder Klaas Kersting in 2011, German-based flaregames took some time to get up-and-running. But with 8 million euros in funding and plenty of experience, it was only going to be a matter of time.

    With the release of Royal Revolt! in 2012, it demonstrated the quality of its output in terms of creativity, and downloads. The game has done particularly well on Google Play, where's it's been downloaded over five million times, and a sequel is now inbound.

  • Happylatte

    Happylatte logo

    Mixing the best of western development experience with Chinese staff, the Beijing-based Happylatte burst onto iOS in 2010 with High Noon. The free-to-play wild west gunslinger game has racked up over 11 million iPhone downloads, as well as sustaining over six months in the US top 10 top grossing charts.

    But the big news for 2013 is the return of the franchise with High Noon 2. It will be fascinating to see whether the addictive social gameplay will find a new audience.

  • Johnny Two Shoes

    Johnny Two Shoes logo

    Les enfants terrible of the UK indie scene, London-based Johnny Two Shoes (the Scott-Slade brothers) proved their chops on Flash games, before demonstrating their ambition with 2010's iOS hit Plunderland.

    They've been pretty quiet since then, however, as they work on the delayed but still anticipated Prevail. We look forward to its release later in 2013.

  • Quark Games

    Quark Games logo

    Previously known as PlayMesh, the US developer behind online mobile strategy game Valor renamed itself in early 2013. PlayMesh didn't adequately reflect the hardcore experiences the company produces, apparently. It's an significant rebrand given wider movement in the industry from targeting large casual game audiences to the smaller but more highly monetised midcore gaming audience.

    Valor itself sits firmly in the hardcore niche, being a highly competitive PVP experience. It will be interesting to see how the company builds on that foundation in the coming months.

  • Robot Entertainment

    Robot Entertainment logo

    Set up by veterans from Ensemble Studios, Robot's bit hit remains Hero Academy, a 2012 iOS social turn-based strategy game that continues to gain plaudits, recently winning DICE's mobile games of the year.

    As well as mobile, the company also develops for PC - most notably its Orcs Must Die franchise. Bringing such experiences cross-platform will surely be its next step.

  • Rodeo Games

    Rodeo Games logo

    Slowly but surely UK indie Rodeo Games has been building up its reputation for creating world class turn-based strategy games. Using previous experience working for the likes of UK studios such as Criterion and Lionhead, it launched Hunters: Episode 1 for iOS in 2011, successfully followed up with the sequel in 2012.

    The big news for 2013, however, is the studio is working on a version of Game Workshop's classic tabletop game Warhammer Quest.

  • Spry Fox

    Spry Fox logo

    Having reinvigorated the match-3 genre with the delightful Triple Town, US indie Spry Fox is going to have a big year in 2013. It has three games in development for mobile devices; pretty impressive given its tiny size.

    First up its a sequel to its Steambirds turn-based aerial combat game, while web game Leap Day (co-developed with Sparkypants Studios) is a frankly bizarre puzzle experience in which up to 8 people play over four days.

    Perhaps most interestingly though will be the mobile release of turn-based strategy game ('Think Magic the Gathering, but without cards') Highgrounds.

  • Wormhole Games

    Wormhole Games logo

    Thanks to his previous roles running the Game Developers Conference and doing business development for EA and Funzio, Jamil Moledina has a full rolodex when it comes to industry contacts and knowledge. But that's just one of the reasons we're excited about Wormhole Games.

    Its first release will be a 'gorgeous-looking core game with strong multiplayer features'. Sounds good.

Contributing Editor

A Pocket Gamer co-founder, Jon is Contributing Editor at which means he acts like a slightly confused uncle who's forgotten where he's left his glasses. As well as letters and cameras, he likes imaginary numbers and legumes.