2018 was an interesting year for smartphone gaming – and the “culprit” for this was a single game, released by Nintendo and Niantic: Pokémon GO. It has become the single most important mobile gaming trend in 2019, boosting the popularity of AR (augmented reality) games for a while. It has even become a massive worldwide phenomenon, getting smartphone gamers out of their seats, and even spawning new jobs (professional Pokémon hunter was one of them).
2017 was a much calmer year for mobile gaming. It did not have any games that could repeat the performance of Pokémon GO but it had quite a few highly anticipated titles released. One of them brought with it the revival of one of the best-known platformer heroes of video game history – Nintendo’s Super Mario. Released on December 15th, 2016, Super Mario Run has taken the mobile gaming world by force, becoming the single most successful app in 2017.
By the end of October 2017, Super Mario Run was downloaded more than 200 million times, with almost 3 million of these happening on its first day. It has reached 25 million downloads 7 days faster than Pokémon GO – it has easily surpassed 40 million global downloads within four days from its release. The game has instantly become the top downloaded app in 140 countries – and the top grossing app in 30 of them. In its first 24 hours of existence, it has generated revenues between $4 and more than $8 million (this is something sources can’t agree on), revenues that reached an estimated $71 million within a month from its release.
Super Mario Run has topped Apple’s “Top Games Charts” for 2017, and it has stayed there to this day. On Android, the number of its downloads has exceeded 50 million (they fall well within the 50 to 100 million categories), and it has over 585,000 five-star reviews (and more than 236,000 one-star ones, mostly from fans who are disappointed for getting just one free world with the game).
The “Game of the Year” award offered by Apple to iOS game developers this year didn’t go to Super Mario Run, though – it was taken “home” by RAC7’s puzzle title “Splitter Critters”. In it, players have to guide a bunch of lost aliens across the map, back to their spaceship, by splitting and rearranging the scenery in order for them to overcome any obstacles they might encounter. “Splitter Critters” won in most major Apple markets, like the US and Canada, as well as the majority of other European, Asian, and international markets (with the exception of China, where the “Game of the Year” was won by a fighting game called “Art of War: Red Tides”).