The Charticle

Which of 2017's biggest mobile games will sustain in 2018?

Homescapes, Lineage 2, Toon Blast, Final Fantasy XV?

Which of 2017's biggest mobile games will sustain in 2018?

It should come as little surprise that breaking into the mobile games top grossing charts is a tough task indeed.

At the time of writing, stark evidence of this is provided by the fact that only four of the 25 top grossing iPhone games in the US were launched in 2017. 

These games are MZ's Final Fantasy XV: A New Empire (10th), Peak Games' Toon Blast (13th), Playrix Games' Homecapes (15th) and FunPlus' Guns of Glory (23rd).

Not only does this mean that all bar one of 2017's efforts are being muscled out of the top 10, but they're also being outgunned by ageing titles; 10 of the top 25 (and four of the top five) were released in 2014 or earlier.

So was 2017 such a bad year for mobile games, or does this simply signal that slow burners are the new instant hits?

Speed vs. acceleration

For a compelling argument against this theory, one need look no further than Lineage 2: Revolution and its dash to the summit of the top grossing ranks in its native South Korea.

According to App Annie, it remained at the top there for more than five months, between December 2016 and May 2017. On December 8th it sank to 7th, its lowest point so far, but it's back to the top spot as of January 4th 2018.

But in the West the MMO has experienced a less explosive kind of success. Lineage 2's current peak in the US iPhone grossing charts was 26th on November 23rd 2017, during its launch month.

It appeared to be on a steady decline thereafter, hitting an all-time low of 119th on December 31st, but by January 1st 2018 it had bounced back up to 43rd. On January 4th, it sat at 57th.

Lineage 2 Revolution seems all but guaranteed to continue its success in South Korea.

Lineage 2 Revolution seems all but guaranteed to continue its success in South Korea, then, while in the US it's on track to maintain its top 100 status.

If it can do so throughout the bulk of 2018, given the vast cultural divide betwee South Korea and the US, Netmarble will look upon it as not only a remarkable success, but also a wholly successful localisation project.

Poised for success

If any game were to be an instant hit in the US last year, based on the track record of both developer and franchise, Final Fantasy XV: A New Empire would have been the obvious choice.

MZ's latest wasted little time entering the top 50 on the US iPhone grossing charts, but more surprising was that it didn't follow the trajectory of Game of War and Mobile Strike by almost immediately accelerating into the top five.

But the game's grossing position has been on a steady ascent since launching - barring a period in November 2017 when the game mysteriously dropped out of the chart altogether - and its highest position of 11th was recorded on December 2nd.

It's taken longer than usual for MZ to conquer the App Store but the trajectory of Final Fantasy XV is definitely upward.

It's taken longer than usual for MZ to conquer the App Store but the trajectory of Final Fantasy XV is definitely upward.

Add to this the suggestion that MZ has pulled back on its infamously powerful user acquisition campaigns for Game of War and Mobile Strike to give its latest the best chance of success and it would not be at all surprising to see the game really cement itself in 2018.

Step inside

It's little coincidence that all of 2017's best performers came from major companies with pre-existing mobile game hits - ones that have been there and done it.

Expanding on popular existing IP is becoming increasingly popular, though this does not always come in the form of outright sequels, but rather live alongside existing titles.

One such game was Homescapes, which followed Playrix's 2016 sleeper hit Gardenscapes. The home renovation-themed match-three puzzler was a real hit in 2017, peaking at ninth in the US iPhone grossing chart.

As of January 4th 2018, the game at at 23rd. Meanwhile, it's interesting to see that Gardenscapes has experienced little drop-off in its own rankings, sitting at 30th.

If Playrix can maintain both Gardenscapes and Homescapes, it will be quite the achievement.

History would suggest that throughout 2018, Gardenscapes will begin to fall away as Homescapes picks up the mantle - but if Playrix can avoid this happening without damaging either title, it will be quite the achievement.

On the up

Then there's Peak Games' Toon Blast, the follow-up to 2014's Toy Blast. The latter was itself the epitome of a slow burner after failing to register on the US iPhone grossing charts for its first two months before rising from 1,196th on March 7th 2015 to well within the top 100 by the end of that year. 

It's since been a mainstay of the top grossing charts since, often within the top 20, so it's hardly surprising that Peak Games shoud try to repeat the trick with Toon Blast.

So far, so good. Toon Blast was much quicker to enter the top 100 than its predecessor, getting there in a matter of days, and has remained there ever since.

It's steadily rising through the ranks, too, hitting 22nd as of January 4th 2018. Toy Blast was 16th on the same day, but Peak Games has already shown that successful titles don't necessarily need to be quick out of the blocks.

So yes, at least in the West, 2017 may have been lacking a mobile game in the vein of Clash Royale or Pokemon GO - that standout hit that rockets up the charts and gets people talking.

But the fact is that the vast majortiy of successful mobile games are not made this way. They are launched and fine-tuned, with no time limit on their success.

And 2017 provided many games with the potential to show serious staying power.

Features Editor

Matt is really bad at playing games, but hopefully a little better at writing about them. He's Features Editor for, and has also written for lesser publications such as IGN, VICE, and Paste Magazine.


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Gabe Paidman
Machine Zone uses Google tanslate for their fake translation "IP". Their "Ad tech" is reliant on the companies they are at the dispose of - Google and Facebook. Satori is an rss feed that is reliant on Google and other search engines. The only thing that makes this company unique is their ability to leverage gambling mechanics. Oh' they also have a disclaimer that says they are NOT responsible for delivering the digital goods users pay for. This means that Machine Zone is hedging against their own abillity to be a competant "tech company". They also pay for fake app store and glassdoor reviews.
Faizan Qureshi Product Manager at Mindstorm Studios
Why are all PGB author defending MZ and trying to spin off their disappear from the app store as anything other than a penalty for manipulating the downloading charts!
I think MZ is spending a part of their UA budget to pill up PGB pockets to write well about them.
I. C. FOOLS Tech
Faizan - And here I was thinking I might be the only one who noticed that. Your observation about and the role they have long played as a Ra-Ra Cheerleader for that smoke and mirrors sweatshop is about as obvious as it gets. It's just about as obvious as the manipulation that has taken place on the charts by MZ's use of click farms and review mills for the Pay 2B Loser scam titles they have produced. It doesn't take too much of an imagination to envision how the grossing charts can be manipulated as well. To be fair, MZ are not the only ones, and Apple/Google know they have a big problem, but to fix it would require them admitting the problem existed in the first place which then creates its own set of problems - for them.

Don't be detracted by the response; history shows us there are always supporters of illicit operations that are touted as being successful and a model for others to follow. Even Enron, Lehman Bothers, Bear Sterns, etc... had their own set of cheerleaders and we all know how those models of success ended up. You know the old saying about data - garbage in, equals garbage out... the trick to recognizing the garbage is to look beyond the pie chart or line graph... but most people are too lazy to do that these days.
Craig Chapple Editor at
To be clear MZ in no way offers any money to any staff, nor does it advertise on this site. Unpopular as the company and its practices may be, you cannot deny MZ's success in the mobile market, which offers lessons for other developers and shouldn't simply be ignored.

The data does not back up accusations of the company manipulating the charts.
Doug Kelly Editor
I have positively proved that “somebody” has manipulated MZ’s FF ratings in the app store. Have reported it to apple and the justice department with no correction made. I can only conclude that lawmakers treat this like childs toys and apple would rather just keep the income coming.
I have also demonstrated the unethical business practices used by MZ to hook unsuspecting people into their fraud.
To put this business on a pedestal of success to emulate is like hero worshiping a drug dealer or racketeering operation. Please look past profits and to what actually drives the numbers. Its a deep and dark pit of fraud protected by US lawmaker indifference.
Faizan Qureshi Product Manager at Mindstorm Studios
Thank you for responding back Craig.

In the article, "What the hell is happening at Game of War and Mobile Strike developer MZ?" the company strategy to pause UA for it's legacy apps in favor to spending more on FF:XV is touted as genius. I do not think there is any company in the the entire world that will immediately stop investing in two very "successful" products and take a gamble on a re-skin of their old game. There is no innovation in FF:XV. Such a gamble only makes sense if they know they can make it an equally successful process and in this uncertain and unpredictable market that can only happen if you are doing something underhanded.
Apple, does not publicly acknowledge this, however any app that is found manipulating the charts is taken off the ranking charts for a 30 day period or longer depending on the offense. As I have seen some other apps disappear from the charts as well.

On the other hand, we keep on getting articles about how it is all a mystery and MZ has made such a wise strategic decision. As gatekeepers of the reliable source of information and knowledge about the mobile gaming industry has a big responsibility here. I really admire the content here and the bite sized news I get on the industry here, however in some rare occasion like the entire follow up on MZ, I feel your team has not brought the complete picture for it's readers. Maybe you can get a comment from an Apple representative about it and we all will get the truth out there.
Thank you for responding back. Have a good day.