Cross-platform gaming has become the biggest trend amongst mobile game studios. Modern devices allow developers to implement gameplay and visuals on a level, which is very close to Xbox 360 and PS3 projects.
FPS, TPS, racing simulators, MMORPGs, MOBAs, RTSs, sandboxes, and other genres are growing on the mobile market, moving iOS and Android closer to becoming full-fledged gaming platforms. USA Today experts predict that the mobile gaming industry is about to beat a $94.2 billion mark until 2020.
To analyze mobile multiplayer games market share, let’s take a look at the best representatives of this segment and sum up their available revenue results. You will also learn which game engines were used for these titles and why.
1) Hearthstone. Engine – Unity
This digital collectible card game by Blizzard Entertainment generates around $40 million per month, as VentureBeat insiders report. The title was released for iOS and Android in 2014. Total revenue has surpassed an astonishing $2,2 billion mark over the past 57 months, with over $700 million for the mobile version. VentureBeat confirmed this figure. It’s a freemium game, so all this money is from in-game purchases.
Hearthstone is set in the Warcraft universe. All online players are your potential enemies. The game chooses opponents who have level and skills similar to yours so that you could progress naturally. There are nine card classes with unique units, hero powers, and 4 classes.
You can create custom decks to adjust them to different purposes and play style. Developers release card expansion packs every four months, so there’s no end to mastering and recombining them.
Though Blizzard had used a proprietary toolkit for the development of their flagship World of Warcraft, they decided to use the simple basic version of Unity to create Hearthstone. It allows developers to achieve the performance they need even on low-end devices and to drive servers smoothly.
2) Pokémon GO. Engine – Unity
Pokémon GO is a Niantic AR game in which you have to travel physically to find and collect pokemon species. Such factors as catch rate, Pokeball type, and timing must be considered to obtain a new creature. Unlike the previous games in the series, you don’t have to fight them to tame.
The game analyzes your real location to put pokemon in their natural habitat. For example, Water-type animals live near ponds or rivers, so be ready to take a walk or even rent a boat to catch them!
According to Techcrunch, the game has doubled industry average retention rates as well as average casual game revenues. Forbes reported about $2 billion in total revenue in September 2018. The latest Nintendo Life update reports about $2,5 billion revenue and 37% growth.
Pokémon GO is a perfect example of incredible Unity engine flexibility. It allows iOS and Android devices to combine gyroscope, camera, and GPS module to render realistic real-time images of pokemon. You can watch them walking around as if they were real.
3) Last Day On Earth: Survival. Engine – Unity
This Russian isometric survival zombie shooter with stunning graphics is one of the highest-grossing Unity-powered mobile games. Unity reports that gross revenue of LDOES is over $125 million with a whopping 83 million installs and over 10 million daily active players.
It’s still the only open-world survival sandbox for mobile platforms in which you can explore the universe without any limitations. Your enemies are not only NPC zombies but real players as well. Resources are extremely valuable, so sometimes it’s better to run away to save bullets and kill animals for food instead of enemies.
The MMORPG element allows you to create and join clans with random players and friends. It seems to be the winning strategy for quick leveling up and surviving. You never know what the plans of the people you meet are, so always be careful and be ready to get a shot from behind.
However, players and zombies may be less deadly than weather conditions and broken items. You have to upgrade and repair stuff as soon as possible to adapt to cold winter days and be sure that your hun won’t explode during the next fight.
Kefir! the studio chose Unity as it’s very comfortable for dynamic terrain generation. They divided development into blocks in accordance with the development kit elements. It allowed them to complete tasks in parallels. Their creation was marked by Unity authorities as highly successful.
4) Fortnite Mobile. Engine – Unreal Engine 4
As Sensor Tower reports, Fortnite Mobile reached $500 million on iOS in 326 days after the March 15, 2018 launch. Such growth rate is much faster than Clash Royale and Honor of Kings had. Play Market Fortnite sales started later, so the revenue in February 2019 was about $100 million.
Fortnite is the second biggest Battle Royale game on the cross-platform market and the leader on PC and consoles. It has attracted over 250 million players in total, with over 30 million daily active users.
The action of the game takes place in a fable comic world. All players are allowed to create unique characters, using the powerful editor. The range of clothes and accessories is incredibly wide.
Fortnite is a third-person survival experience. Every round a huge flying school bus drops you and 99 more players on a huge island where you can choose any point for landing. As soon as your character touches the ground, it’s time to scavenge for weapons, armor, and other items to obtain an advantage. The only mission is to kill as many enemies as possible and become the last man standing.
Unreal Engine 4 is the proprietary product of Epic Games, the developers of Fortnite. It happened that Fortnite used to be a testing polygon for new mechanics and technologies. The idea to add a Battle Royale mode allowed Epic Games to upgrade the engine and make it one of the most powerful SDKs so far.
5) Old School Runescape. Engine – Proprietary RuneTek
OSRC is a relatively fresh MMORPG release for mobile devices. It’s a full-featured port of the original 2013 Old School Runescape. The 2018 revenue report by Jadex studio says that the title brings around $1 million per month, which totals in $9 million in 9 months after the launch on mobile platforms. Total annual revenue of Jadex reached the $100 million mark in 2018.
The game has no plot and is entirely focused on multiplayer interactions between real players, entities, monsters, and NPCs. It presents a unique player-driven economy and a wide range of hardcore PvE and PvP challenges.
You’re free to explore the universe in which nearly the entire mass of objects is interactable on purpose. It gives you the feeling of constant non-linear progression, though you’re not required to do anything until you want it.
Surprisingly, Old School Runescape has twice as many active concurrent players as the modern Runescape 3 does. It’s also much cheaper to play it.
The RuneTek game engine version for OSRC hasn’t been described yet. At Freepps.top we figured out only that is allowed to generate graphics quality and style of PlayStation 1, and run well with up to 86.000 concurrent players online.
6) PUBG Mobile. Engine – Unreal Engine 4
Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds is the most successful mobile Battle Royale so far. Though it’s not the earliest game in the genre, it has the status of the Battle Royale pioneer. The Verge reports that this summer PUBG has become the world’s highest-grossing mobile game.
In May 2019 PUBG Mobile generated $76 million worldwide, while the adapted Chinese version titled Game For Peace brought developers over $70 million more.
Gameplay core of this franchise is similar to Fortnite’s, but PUBG is more focused on realism. It’s set in the post-Soviet-like areas. You can choose between 4 maps, each of which has different size and terrains to establish various gaming conditions and provide optional match length.
Unlike Fortnite, you’re offered to master realistic weapons and switch between TPS and FPS modes to have more flexibility. The game presents a good gameplay balance and requires you to use strategic thinking.
You can join the game in solo as well as team up with 1-3 players and. The latest version also has a 4V4 mode for fans of quick tactical matches.
PUBG Corporation noticed Epic’s Unreal Engine 4 while choosing a faster environment for developing their fresh Battle Royale concept. UE4 appeared to be the best toolkit for their needs comparing to proprietary ARMA and H1Z1 engines.
7) Clash Royale. Engine: Proprietary Objective-C and C++ Engine. Server is Java-powered
Clash Royale is a unique combination of a collectible card game with tower defense and MOBA. Forbes latest report says that Supercell earned over $2.5 billion in less 3 years after the launch, is one of the most profitable mobile games ever.
Clash Royale is set in the famous Clash of Clans universe and offers you to collect cards with the original lineup of characters. They’re divided into classes and have different stats.
You’re offered to play on 1V1 and 2V2 fields. Both sides have the purpose of destroying as many enemy towers as possible in a limited period. The winner gets trophies and experience points for leveling up. You can also form or join clans to reveal friendly battles and wage clan wars.
There are two types of gaming coders. First choose to learn how to use ready-made development kits, while others create new engines to fulfill their particular development needs. Supercell with Visa Forsten as the Lead Programmer has invented their own framework and achieved perfect performance.
8) Real Racing 3. Engine – Proprietary
Based on Sensortower monthly revenue reports, the total revenue of Real Racing 3 in 5,5 years is over 27$ million. The game is distributed for free, so the entire sum is for sales of in-game gold, expansions, cards, and tiers. It’s not a very good result for a 6-year-old franchise, though.
Nevertheless, it’s one of the most realistic racing simulators for iOS and Android. Developer’s Diaries on YouTube demonstrate how much effort was put to make realistic tracks and physically relevant vehicle behavior. Real Racing 3 deserves a title of the mobile Grand Turismo.
You can experience such famous licensed cars, as Ferrari, Porsche, Lamborghini, McLaren, Ford, Koenigsegg, Bugatti, Audi, and other supercars by 25 more manufacturers.
The proprietary game engine was created by Firemonkeys to make the cars more realistic and provide smooth performance on the wide range of devices. It also allows designers to calibrate vehicle physics precisely. Support of spherical harmonics made dark scenes and shadows much deeper.
9) World of Tanks Blitz. Engine: Proprietary DAVA Framework
World of Tanks Blitz, Belarusian MMO is dedicated to vehicular combat of the mid-20th century. It’s still the leading tank combat simulator for 9 years! The mobile spinoff is available for 6 years and it’s estimated to generate around $1 million gross revenue per month.
The mobile version has simplified graphics and more fast-paced battles. You can play 7v7 battles instead of the original 15v15 battlegrounds. Starting with old WWI tanks and armored vehicles, you can upgrade up to powerful war machines of WWII and the Cold War.
It’s the perfect entertainment for fans of modern combat history and realistic vehicular battles. All tank models are full-featured virtual copies of the originals.
DAVA programmers joined the WoT team in 2011. Unity used to be a rather raw instrument and didn’t match multiplayer purposes, while C# opportunities weren’t good enough for optimization as well as Unreal Engine 3. The only way out was to develop a new mobile-optimized engine!
10) Minecraft Pocket Edition. Engine – Java, and LWJGL
Minecraft Pocket Edition is the official 2011 port of Minecraft. Microsoft announced $110 million in revenue figures for 2018, which is the highest revenue since the launch.
Pocket Edition offers you to experience the original source mining, unlimited building in the creative mode, and two multiplayer survival modes. You can either play LAN with friends who are connected to the same WiFi router or join worlds on servers.
Multiplayer experience is much more exciting as the world gets livelier and provides you many opportunities for cooperation. You’re free to build different scenarios and organize custom battles, including Battle Royale.
Markus ‘Notch’ Peterson haven’t ever told anyone about the engine and how it works. Fortunately, some experienced Quora regulars explained that he applied Java language and LWJGL libraries to code a new engine and create the original Minecraft. PE is driven by an optimized version of it.
11) Asphalt 9 Legends. Engine – Proprietary Jet Engine
This multiplayer arcade racing game is still one of the most popular in the genre and the most recognized Gameloft title. The fun fact is that the previous game of the series is still generating over $500.000 per months, while the new chapter brings developers $1.2 million. The estimated first-year revenue is $15 million.
The gameplay offers ultra-casual controls and fast-paced lap races. Similarly to the previous installments, you have to compete with AI-driven or real players in over a thousand contests. Race tracks are scattered around Carribean, Cairo, Himalayas, San Francisco, Shanghai, Rome, Scotland, and the USA.
One of the main mechanics is based on constant generating of nitro and speed shots. For this purpose, you have to complete various stunts, like barrel roll and alike.
Gameloft Barcelona developed the Jet Engine for specific purposes of Asphalt series. They planned this environment as an upgradable system so that it could allow them to optimize high-quality graphics for iOS, Android, and Switch.
12) Modern Combat Versus. Engine – Proprietary Engine and Havok Engine for physics.
Gameloft is one of the most fruitful mobile game developers. It seems that their marketing strategy sounds like “Let’s make a thousand high-quality clones and see what happens.” Modern Combat is a cocktail of Call of Duty Infinite Warfare and Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six.
Unlike the original Modern Combat 5, in this game, you can play only in multiplayer. There are several unlockable characters that remind units from different games. However, they’re all catchy and have significant gameplay specialties.
Even though it’s the best looking PvP FPS for mobile platforms so far, it’s revenues are hard to count. With over 10 million downloads from App Store and Play Market together, MCV generates a rather low monthly revenue equal $100.000. Nevertheless, 2017 and 2018 are breakthrough years for the company.
The MCV engine is still unknown. Freepps.top asked the question about it on the official forum a year ago, but the answer was that they couldn’t reveal it. At the same time, it’s not a secret that Havok is used for physics.
13) Arena of Valor. Engine – Unity
Tencent is a Chinese-based multi-billion Internet giant. This corporation authorities know how to make money for sure. How do you like the fact that AoV soundtrack was composed by Hans Zimmer? Sensortower insiders reported that AoV layers spent over $140 million in 2018 and predicted the sum to grow this year.
Consider that it’s only about western sales. The original Asian version, Honor of Kings, brought the holding over $2 billion over the same period.
It’s a classic 5v5 MOBA with multiple modes and rounds that last from 12 to 18 minutes. The most popular one is the Grand Battle in which you’re free to choose a character to play. The mission is to kill the enemies, destroy defense towers, and the enemy base.
Again, Unity development kit shows it’s high flexibility level and behaves perfectly well in a MOBA game. It provides both good-looking visuals and stable server performance.
14) Lineage 2: Revolution. Engine – Unreal Engine 4
This mobile spinoff of the NCSoft’s 2003 best-seller by Netmarble is set in the same universe, but a century before the Goddess of Destruction events. You can play as Human, Elf, Dark Elf, Dwarf, and Orc and specialize your unit as a warrior, mage, or an archer.
The gameplay features traditional dungeons, random fights between players, clashes of clans, and original storyline quests. Netmarble reimagined all these components to make them more playable on mobile devices.
They also managed to implement the simultaneous battling of 200 players, which has been considered possible only for the PC version.
The simplified HUD makes it elementary to navigate and control the character, though the gameplay feels full and authentic. All quest are automated so that you could save time and start completing them as soon as they become available.
VentureBeat reports that Lineage 2 Revolution revenue crossed 1 billion in the first year, bringing up Netmarble’s net worth to $8.9 billion in 2019.
L2R visuals quality is remarkably high. Unreal Engine 4 has shown its incredible cross-platform multiplayer potential once again. It allowed developers to optimize detailed graphics and provide an opportunity to change preferences to enhance performance on slow devices.
15) Mortal Kombat Mobile. Engine – Unreal Engine 4.
MK is one of the best arcade fighting simulators that shares the market with Tekken and Street Fighter. It’s also one of the leading fighting titles for iOS and Android. Warner Bros released it a week before MK X release and attracted over 100 million players in 4 years.
There are no official sales figures for in-game items, but the revenue only in June 2019 was $1,1 million. If we multiply it on the number of months since April 2015, we get nearly $60 million.
The mobile chapter includes 13 exclusive characters and 3 new ones imported from the new MK 11. You can also unlock more than 130 characters from MK X and old veterans. All of them are customizable.
In the multiplayer mode, you can wage wars between factions. These battles are 3v3 team fights. One member of each team is the actual player, while the rest are optionable companions.
The story with Unreal Engine 4 in this game is rather awkward. The thing is that the newest MK 11 is developed with the upgraded UE3. Such a non-obvious solution may have been caused by the inconvenient Switch adaptation. Though, Fortnite has no issues, so the question is still open.
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Daniel is a founder and editor-in-chief of Freepps.top, a website about mobile apps and games. Daniel is enthusiastic about mobile technology and development. His rule is to test every product for at least 2 weeks before writing a review, so he can vouch for every word he posts.