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10 of the most downloaded mobile games of all time

Gamesville has compiled the 10 most downloaded games for Android devices using data from AppBrain.

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Video games on mobile devices have been around for the past couple of decades, but we're a long way from Snake in this day and age. Games for phones, personal digital assistants (remember PalmPilots?), and other handheld devices were mere distractions with simple visuals, but these mobile games are responsive, visually attractive, and designed to keep you playing way over time.

In the early days of Apple's App Store, blockbuster titles such as Doodle Jump, Cut the Rope, and Fruit Ninja took the world by storm. As the smartphone industry expanded with other operating systems—most popularly Google's Android, which is in 7 out of 10 handheld devices)—so too did the wealth of games offered on these phones.

Because of how phone and tablet technology evolved, mobile game developers have been able to deliver more elaborate titles. Popular genres include card games like Hearthstone and Marvel Snap or fashion games like Shining Nikki. Popular battle royales playable on PC and consoles have their own version on mobile, like PUBG Mobile and Fortnite.

Developers and publishers have since found more ways to make money off the games either by advertisements or microtransactions, the latter of which allows players to spend real money for an in-game item. As an extreme example, quasi-gambling "gacha" games like Genshin Impact have also penetrated the market, making up much of the revenue of mobile games. These types of games let users pay for a random item or in-game character.

Other than pure monetary value, some mobile games have also made a cultural impact, whether it's Pokemon Go making international news headlines or Among Us providing solace during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Angry Birds has also become a film franchise, and famous actors like Pedro Pascal even participate in ads for games like Merge Mansion.

To find out which games have made the biggest splash, Gamesville compiled a list of the most-downloaded mobile games of all time on Android devices using data from AppBrain. Apps available on gaming consoles like Fortnite or with no gameplay mechanics were not considered. The peak usage of each title was determined using Google Trends.

Read on to see which games made the list and count how many you've played.

Candy Crush Saga

Candy Crush Saga game showed on an iPhone.

Mano Kors // Shutterstock

- Release date: April 12, 2012
- Peak usage: July 2013
- Download count: 1 billion+ downloads
- Publisher: King
- Genre: Puzzle

With origins as a browser game by developer King, Candy Crush Saga was first playable through Facebook in April 2012. It was one of the most popular games on the platform, rivaling FarmVille from Zynga. At its core, Candy Crush was a "match 3" game, meaning that players would move and manipulate tiles (or, in this case, colorful candies) to get three that match and score points.

Once Candy Crush Saga launched on mobile platforms later that year, the rest was history. Thanks to a "freemium" strategy, which allowed users to play the game for free but give them the option to spend money to play the game longer, Candy Crush Saga has made billions of dollars and continues to grow. Since 2016, King has been a part of mega-publisher Activision Blizzard.

Temple Run

Temple Run game on android device.

dennizn // Shutterstock

- Release date: Aug. 4, 2011
- Peak usage: January 2012
- Download count: 500 million+ downloads
- Publisher: Imangi Studios
- Genre: Endless runner

Temple Run is one of the progenitors of the "endless runner" genre of mobile games. In this particular game, a player chooses one of a handful of characters, who will then automatically run forward through the corridors of a never-ending temple. Players can swipe left or right when they need to turn, swipe up to jump over obstacles and enemies, and tilt their phones to collect coins.

The game is a true "endless runner" genre with no way to really win, so players challenge themselves to get as far as possible. Its infinite nature is good news for the game, which uses a modified freemium model that lets players spend real money on in-game currency to buy characters and power-ups.

Temple Run has proven so popular that it spawned a spinoff based on Pixar's "Brave" and a physical board game.

Clash of Clans

An Android user plays Clash of Clans.

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- Release date: Aug. 2, 2012
- Peak usage: April 2014
- Download count: 500 million+ downloads
- Publisher: Supercell
- Genre: Real-time strategy

While Clash of Clans might be a less action-packed game, it still took the world by storm with addicting gameplay, a freemium model, and memorable marketing. A strategy game, Clash of Clans lets players build their own clans and villages, and as the name implies, players can attack other clans.

The game is far from simple. Players will have to gain and use resources for buildings, troops, and magic spells, not to mention having to maintain and upgrade all of these elements. But that drive to sustain one's village and the pride that comes with it is where players have found the most satisfaction.

Advertisements featuring Hollywood actors like Liam Neeson helped to put Clash of Clans in the mainstream, and a spinoff game released in 2016 called Clash Royale also proved to be massively successful.

8 Ball Pool

A guy playing 8 ball pool on his phone.

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- Release date: October 2010
- Peak usage: February 2017
- Download count: 500 million+ downloads
- Publisher: Miniclip
- Genre: Sports

Game developer and publisher Miniclip started off by making popular web browser games, but with the emerging mobile game market, the company has primarily focused on titles for phones and tablets. One of their most played games is a simple one: 8 Ball Pool, which is, well, pool.

Players can compete with their friends online and play a game of pool from a top-down perspective, utilizing touch controls to aim and pull back the cue. While it's not a complicated game, it can still get quite competitive. While you can play 8 Ball Pool on iOS and Android, Miniclip's original web version is still playable to this day.

Ludo King

Ludo King mobile app shown on phone.

sdx15 // Shutterstock

- Release date: Feb. 20, 2016
- Peak usage: April 2020
- Download count: 500 million+ downloads
- Publisher: Gametion Technologies Pvt Ltd
- Genre: Board game

The word "ludo" originates from a Latin word that means "play," and it's also the title of a mobile game called Ludo King developed by Gametion, which is headquartered in India. Ludo King has gained worldwide appeal.

Based on an Indian board game named Pachisi, which also inspired Parcheesi and Sorry!, the mobile game is a version of the original Ludo game that allows two to four players to roll a die and move their pieces around a board until one player gets all of their pieces into the center.

It's a much more colorful version of the classic game that captivated players with its simplicity—even as other games on the market go for complex rules and gameplay.

Free Fire

Free Fire video game on Samsung Galaxy S9.

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- Release date: Aug. 23, 2017
- Peak usage: November 2021
- Download count: 1 billion+ downloads
- Publisher: Garena
- Genre: Battle royale

In 2017, a game called PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds (or PUBG for short) became a sleeper hit, popularizing a rising genre known as a "battle royale." Most games of this genre have a large number of players—usually 100 players—airdrop onto an island, find weapons and other ammo, and battle in gun combat until one player or squad is left standing.

Seeing the popularity of the format, Singaporean developer Garena got in on the battle royale action, creating the biggest mobile-exclusive battle royale, Free Fire. While Fortnite has a grasp on American audiences, Free Fire is quite popular in Southeast Asia and Latin America.

The way to play is very similar to PUBG, albeit with 50 players instead of 100. In fact, Free Fire is close enough to PUBG that the company behind the latter game sued Garena for its game's similarities.

Sniper 3D

Man holding a smartphone and playng the Sniper 3D mobile game.

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- Release date: Nov. 10, 2014
- Peak usage: January 2020
- Download count: 500 million+ downloads
- Publisher: Fun Games For Free
- Genre: First-person shooter

Because of the limited control possibilities of mobile devices, phones aren't the ideal place to play first-person shooter games, which view the action from the perspective of the player's character holding a weapon. But games like Sniper 3D Assassin have successfully translated the genre to mobile, mainly by keeping it simple.

In the role of a sniper, all the player has to do is zoom in and shoot the targets. Players can also spend money to buy new guns and upgrade their gear. Of course, a game featuring realistic violence always courts controversy, particularly over a level that tasks players with having to shoot and kill a journalist. That level has since been removed from the game, according to a statement on behalf of the developing company to HuffPost.

Temple Run 2

Temple Run 2 game on smartphone.

sdx15 // Shutterstock

- Release date: Jan. 16, 2013
- Peak usage: January 2013
- Download count: 500+ million downloads
- Publisher: Imangi Studios
- Genre: Endless runner

With the massive popularity of endless runner Temple Run, a sequel from Imangi Studios was inevitable. Temple Run 2 works the same way as the original with players dodging obstacles and collecting coins in never-ending corridors. However, the graphics received a significant upgrade, and new obstacles provide players with fresh challenges.

Even if they chose not to spend money on microtransactions, players found Temple Run 2 to be just as or more addicting than its predecessor, thanks to its easy controls. Over 10 years later, Imangi is still updating Temple Run 2 with new characters.

Subway Surfers

Subway Surfers game on android device.

dennizn // Shutterstock

- Release date: May 24, 2012
- Peak usage: May 2022
- Download count: 1+ billion downloads
- Publisher: Kiloo Games and SYBO Games
- Genre: Endless runner

The most downloaded mobile game of the past decade, according to app insights company data.ai, Subway Surfers adds a fun aesthetic to the endless runner genre. Players will start off controlling a young graffiti artist named Jake, guiding him through a subway as he flees from a police officer.

Players can pick up coins and power-ups, which allow the character to jump higher or multiply their score, amongst other abilities. The game ends when you crash into an obstacle, but players can unlock more characters and abilities. It's the simplicity, pleasing visuals, and ease of play that allowed the developers to continually add to and update the game as its sales numbers grew.

Hill Climb Racing

Hill Climb Racing game shown on a phone.

sdx15 // Shutterstock

- Release date: Sept. 22, 2012
- Peak usage: January 2013
- Download count: 500 million+ downloads
- Publisher: Fingersoft
- Genre: Racing

Racing video games have mass appeal, but adding silly and cartoonish physics to such a game could make it stand out. Take Hill Climb Racing, a game by Finnish company Fingersoft, as an example. All players have to do is get their car to the end of a stage—although they'll have to contend with rough terrain.

As they guide their car over hills, the purposefully unrealistic physics take effect, with comedic results. Players can try to make their cars do flips and other tricks as they collect coins.

A sequel allowed friends to compete against each other and introduced microtransactions where players can upgrade their vehicles' cosmetics.

Data reporting by Karim Noorani. Story editing by Carren Jao. Copy editing by Tim Bruns. Photo selection by Clarese Moller.

This story originally appeared on Gamesville and was produced and distributed in partnership with Stacker Studio.


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