Brace yourself, there are 85 hyperlinks in this post. They are all links to different games in the iTunes App Store.
To understand how the market and audience is changing, I download and play a lot of mobile games. If you’re an iPhone user you may have noticed that the App Store is updated every Thursday at midnight PST with new featured apps. Each week there are a few dozen new apps curated by Apple itself, and a lot of fantastic games in particular are surfaced this way.
In February of 2015, I started creating monthly folders of these games to keep track of what’s released when, how it performs, and which games left an impression on me that month. This is a list of those apps, along with links to check them out for yourself. With few exceptions, these are all very high quality games.
Most of these are free to play games, meaning you can download and try them for free. If a game is really exceptional, it goes into the Play folder on my iPhone, so I have included a list of those here as well.
Why do this? To keep record of which games I played in 2015 on my iPhone and to make a point: the number of games available on mobile devices in this era is obscene. You could do nothing but play iPhone games all day for the rest of your life and you would not run out of games to play. You wouldn’t even come close.
For game developers – mobile game developers in particular – gaining and holding the attention of users is incredibly difficult. I will estimate that for the games below, I played each of them for an average of 5-10 minutes each. Investing a significant amount of time in one game is rare because there’s such a large volume of new games constantly coming into the pipeline.
I estimate that within a year of this date, in December of 2016, I will not remember most of these games. They will have vanished from my memory and have been replaced, likely by the even-larger wave of games coming in the new year. Is this sustainable? No, probably not. But the situation is outstanding for casual users interested in checking out new games.
- Duet: a charming rhythm game. Very simple but difficulty ramps up quickly.
- AdVenture Capitalist: hilariously simple. Click to earn money.
- Alto’s Adventure: Zen-like skiing game heavily promoted by Apple. Beautiful.
- Hoplite: a cult classic hex-based strategy game, recommended by a speaker at GDC.
- Planet Quest: cosmic rhythm game, revolving around planets in the solar system.
- Green the Planet: pixel art strategy about transforming a cosmic wasteland into a lush environment.
- Astronaut: pixel art infinite runner, fleeing earth from sentient robots which have overtaken it.
- Mr Jump: a simple one-button platformer which is fiendishly difficult.
- Dark Echo: trapped in darkness, you must use sounds to guide you through dangerous obstacles.
- Zoidtrip: squid-kite-triangle-thing navigating a minimal environment of objects.
- Sky Streaker: pants-less climbing to collect coins while avoiding clothes. Published by Adult Swim.
- Ultraflow: minimal puzzle game which demands agility. Beautiful geometry.
- Panache Expedition: defend marine biology. Inspired by Wes Anderson film The Life Aquatic.
- Stickman Rush: arcade jumping game featuring a generic stick man protagonist.
- Sature: turn-based strategy game about mixing colors to create a particular palette.
- Letter craft: award-winning puzzle word game.
- Twisty Hollow: cartoonish puzzle game about small-town governance.
- Tiltagon: colorful action game where you tilt your device to navigate obstacles.
- Pursuit of Light: guide a small girl toward the light to awake from a dream. Artsy.
- The Walking Dead: Road to Survival: choose your own adventure game in the Walking Dead universe.
- Must Deliver: avoid zombies in the apocalypse and deliver the cure to survivors.
- Does Not Commute: navigate vehicles in a town to get them from A to B without colliding.
- Grow Ops: marijuana growing simulation.
- Hell Rider: police hell by stopping skeletons who would seek to escape the dark underworld.
- Two Dots: connect dots to advance in this sequel to the popular game called Dots.
- Hose It Down!: bizarre fire-fighting puzzle game with a Japanese mech aesthetic.
- Basketball Showdown: swipe to shoot hoops and compete against friends and strangers.
- Orbits: collect diamonds in a constellation of circles in minimal puzzles.
- Wedding Escape: escape matrimony in this charming puzzle game about marriage.
- Capitals: territorial puzzle game made by superstar mobile developer NimbleBit.
- Goal Hero: evade defenders and score goals in this casual game published by a friend.
- One More Dash: timing is everything in this hip action game.
- Skiing Yeti Mountain: retro skiing game which references the 1991 Windows game SkiFree.
- Skatelander: evade obstacles and perform tricks in this side-scrolling skate game.
- Downhill Riders: bomb down hills in a shopping cart in this game which references tv show Jackass.
- Laser!: one button laser-avoidance action game.
- Angry Birds Fight!: role-playing game set in the Angry Birds universe, made by Rovio
- Ball King: shoot hoops with ducks, frogs, zombie heads and more.
- Trivia Crack: hundreds of categories of trivia played with players around the world.
- Cube Jump: guide a cube through space while avoiding obstacles. Don’t fall.
- Tentacle Wars: wage war on a microscopic battlefield inside an alien.
- Dice Mage: pixel-art spell combat role-playing game with magical, exploding dice.
- Pac-Man 256: arcade classic Pac-Man, brilliantly re-interpreted as an endless puzzle.
- Happy Wheels: navigate everyday scenes in Segways, bicycles and more.
- Flick Kick Football: swipe to shoot in this 3D soccer game.
- Shadowmatic: align shadows to find objects in this innovative award-winning puzzler.
- Pop the Lock: tap in sequence to crack the code and pop the lock.
- Smash Road: evade capture by smashing through obstacles in a Minecraft-like world.
- Endless Sky: fly, jump and clone yourself in this minimal puzzle game.
- The Balloons: navigate a balloon around obstacles, trying not to get popped.
- Qubes: control the direction of a ball bouncing down 3D blocks. Influenced by retro classic Q-Bert.
- Sage Solitaire: an extremely well-optimized version of solitaire with some poker elements.
- Downwell: award-winning retro shooter wherein you progress down a well.
- The Walking Dead: No Man’s Land: turn-based combat in the Walking Dead universe.
- Kill Me Again: an RPG with puzzle game mechanics set in the zombie apocalypse.
- Soda Dungeon: manage a soda tavern in this dungeon crawling strategy game.
- Fallout Shelter: base-builder and manager set in the Fallout universe.
- Zombies, Run: zombie role-playing and actual running, combined. A unique approach to fitness.
- Heatos: a unique puzzle game involving not only numbers and tiles but temperatures.
- Blendoku: solve puzzles by distinguishing and arranging colors.
- Dead Center: retro puzzle game which demands quick timing. Difficult.
- Dungeon Boss: assemble a team and pit it against various bosses in this strategy RPG.
- Wonky Ship: navigate an unsteady spacecraft to avoid obstacles and outlast opponents.
- Battle Golf: the first rule of battle gold if that you do not talk about battle golf.
- Shooty Skies: shoot enemies to collect coins. Made by the developer of Crossy Road.
- Clocks: destroy a series of clocks with precise timing.
- Super Hexagon: evade quickly-moving obstacles. One of the most punishingly difficult games ever.
- Bicolor: incredibly minimal puzzle game where you reconcile two conflicting colors.
- Threes!: highly influential and award-winning puzzle game which was famously ripped off.
- Slayin: a retro hack ‘n slash game which references the NES era of action platformers.
- Plague, Inc.: design and and spread an infection across the globe to kill humanity.
- Wave Wave: similar to Super Hexagon, a brutally difficult action game about precision evasion.
- QuizUp: an online trivia game with dozens of topics, similar to Trivia Crack, but more refined.
- 10,000,000: send your hero forward through dungeons by completing match-3 puzzles.
- 80 Days: travel the globe in 80 days or less. A reference to Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days.
- Timberman: tap to strike a tree with your axe as a lumberman. Fast, simple, and fun.
- True Skate: modern adaptation of the 1990’s fad of “fingerboarding”. Innovative and difficult.
- Golfinity: a free, procedurally generated golf game which never ends. Beautifully simple.
- Castle Doombad: tower-defense set in a 1980’s cartoon castle. Made by Adult Swim.
- NBA Jam: the 1990’s arcade classic faithfully restored. Heavy nostalgia.
- Monument Valley: solve captivatingly beautiful puzzles by mastering impossible geometry. Surreal.
- Godus: play god and sculpt a living, breathing world according to your vision.
- Dictator: Revolt: manage a fledgling authoritarian government as a young dictator.
- Tiny Wings: take flight as a young bird in this mesmerizing and Zen-like action game.
- GeoDefense: one of the first (and best) hugely successful and influential mobile tower defense games.
- Colossatron: create a monster and connect parts to destroy human civilization. Made by Half Brick.
- Leo’s Fortune: reclaim Leopold’s gold in this stunningly beautiful action platformer.