It got us through it all: The 10 greatest mobile games of the last decade

GREENVILLE, NC ( — Mobile gaming is just one corner of the video game market, by far the largest entertainment industry in the world.

A game studio, Activision Blizzard, creator of the ever-popular Call of Duty franchise, was sold in January 2022 for $68.7 billion. Mobile games, in particular, are often “free”, meaning they can be downloaded and played to some extent at no cost. These games rely on a percentage of superusers who end up spending real money doing things like replenishing life, drawing rare characters, and so on.

Smartlook has compiled a list of 10 games that have dominated the mobile gaming world over the past decade using data on the highest global download peaks. Candy Crush Saga – which seems to have been around forever, or at least since the advent of Facebook – actually saw its release in 2012. Match-three games, in particular, rushed to stay ahead of the game. their experienced users, adding levels at a breakneck pace. rhythm and develop new features and forms of play to attract users.

And thanks to quarantines and shutdowns imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, games like Gardenscapes have surpassed 10 million daily active players, showing how these popular games help people stay grounded or just pass the time.

Scroll to see if any of your favorite mobile games are the biggest of the past decade.

1 / 10 Sharaf Maksumov // Shutterstock

clash of clans

Clash of Clans is a strategy game released in 2012 for iOS and for Android in 2013. The game, which has received frequent updates since its debut, is free to play but with a difficulty curve that pushes players to buy currency of the game. called gems. In the game, players build fantasy-style villages which they oversee and operate to battle other players’ villages. Two other in-game currencies, gold and elixirs, are also used to build village upgrades and form groups of troops used in battles. Players can also fight goblin villages of non-player characters on their own in order to gain resources.

2 / 10 Tomohiro Ohsumi // Getty Images

monster strike

Monster Strike is a Japanese mobile role-playing game released for iOS and Android in 2013. The game combines many gameplay genres and has gained a lasting player base over the past nine years. At its core, Monster Strike has certain elements in common with Pokémon as players care for and evolve monsters in order to use them in battles. There is one key difference though, as Monster Strike battles take place on a field using pointing and throwing physics similar to a pool game. The game has seen continued success over the past decade, especially in Japan.

3/10Lukmanazis // Shutterstock

Arena of Valor

Arena of Valor was originally a Chinese game but was adapted worldwide in 2016. There’s even a Nintendo Switch version, although the game was still made for mobile. Arena of Valor is a multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) game, in which the gameplay resembles a capture the flag game. Players meet in equal teams of 3v3, 5v5 and many other modes, including 10v10 “chaos mode”. There are over 100 possible heroes to play, covering all multiplayer categories common as chariots and mages.

4/10NurPhoto//Getty Images

Puzzles and dragons

Puzzle & Dragons is a combination match-three and fighting game released in 2012. In a format recognizable to those who play many similar games, players match colored gems in order to attack using the same creature of colorful attack in the player’s team. Players use magic stones, friend points and monster points to pay for various game tasks and use resources to merge monsters to form more powerful hybrid monsters. Additionally, difficulty levels, like “normal” and “technical”, can be adjusted as players progress in their skills.

5 / 10Wachiwit // Shutterstock

Pokemon Go

Pokémon Go is a collecting and battling game that uses augmented reality (AR) to merge gameplay with real life. Players encounter Pokémon in real life while walking around public places, businesses, and elsewhere. Since its premiere in 2016, Pokémon Go has released more and more “Dex” – the full roster of Pokémon characters – into the game for players to capture. In-game resources are acquired by spinning PokéStops, and these resources are used in battle, to add power and evolve Pokémon. Players can also compete in Gyms to grow their Pokémon and earn resources.

6/10Roman Kosolapov // Shutterstock

PlayerUnknown Mobile’s Battlegrounds

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) started as a mod, or a modification made by a player to an existing game, before becoming a free standalone game in 2017. The mobile version followed in 2018, allowing a whole new population to play without a PC or console. In PUBG Mobile, players are loaded onto an airplane and then dropped into different areas of a battle map. From there, they must scramble to collect resources like weapons and clothing. Because this is a battle royale game, the map continues to tighten over time, forcing surviving players into a smaller and smaller area and punishing those stuck in the confines.

7/10Alexandru Nika // Shutterstock

candy Crush Saga

Candy Crush Saga has remained one of the most iconic mobile games since its launch in 2012 and continues to make updates and add new levels over time. The game follows a simple match-three format, with colorful candies that can be combined into power-ups. In the game, players fight their way through different areas controlled by candy monster bosses. The game is free to play, but players can pay to replenish their lives to progress faster through the game’s area barriers and more. There are also social sharing options, which allow users to see how their Facebook friends and others have progressed in the game.

8 / 10Sorbis // Shutterstock

Fate/Grand Order

Fate/Grand Order is a free-to-play game that first launched in Japan in 2015 before releasing worldwide years later. The game is gacha-based and involves players drawing for different minions, people that the player controls as a master. The game’s combat is turn-based and uses cards to play tactical actions by a team of three active minions and three reserve minions. The game is based on an adult visual novel and its artwork might be a bit more mature. The plot of the game is also told through visual novel-like scenes and stories.

9/10Miguel Lagoa // Shutterstock


Roblox is a free game creation platform that was released for PC in 2006, for iOS in 2012 and for Android in 2014. The game is built using a language called Lua which allows users to create their own games working across a variety of genres. It may look a lot like Scratch and other visual “teaching languages”, but Roblox has a twist because it’s monetized. Users can purchase and use a virtual currency called Robux to purchase features and more. Another twist that Roblox has on the other games on this list: users can sell their created content to other users for Robux which can, in turn, be exchanged for real currency.

10 / 10 Sharaf Maksumov // Shutterstock

garden landscapes

Gardenscapes started out as another kind of PC game, but the mobile version is a match-three game that’s about building a village. Launched for iOS and Android in 2016, Game Loop works by using different puzzle levels to help clear debris in a large, overgrown garden, with an overall goal of getting the garden back in order. The puzzle levels are match-three puzzles, where the objects are different fruits from the garden. As with the other games on the list, Gardenscapes has continued to grow over time as new levels and features are added. This story originally appeared on Smartlook and was produced and distributed in partnership with Stacker Studio.

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