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Designing a mobile arcade game: a case study

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Since the beginning of the smartphone era, games have been the most downloaded kind of app, and among the most profitable.

Games are such a popular kind of app, that Apple decided, for the latest App Store redesign, to dedicate a specific section to them.

As you know, there are lots of different kinds of games, but I think that in the mobile world, we can identify 3 most successful categories: strategy, puzzles and arcade.

Strategy is intended as those games like Clash of clans and basically all those games where a bearded warrior screams in anger.

I’m not a fan. Actually I’m kind of a hater, but I’m gonna talk of my disgust for free2play games in another post.

Puzzles are all of the Candy Crush and alike. Arcade are all those simple games, usually consisting in a single action, not really focusing on a story but rather on the fun of the gameplay itself. Please allow me to give this overly simplified definition. A good example on mobile is Crossy Road.

This last kind of game is the one you can usually play with just your thumb while riding a bus or a train to work. 
It’s the kind of game also non-gamers install on their phone to kill time while waiting in line or, most commonly, while sitting on the toilet.
They usually don’t require any kind of thinking (unlike puzzles and strategy), they are quick and games are usually quite short, the learning curve is minimum. They just require to build up some skill on that specific action. Timing is usually key to master this kind of games.

Anyone can play, anyone can enjoy.

On the development stand-point, these are probably the easiest to make too.

For these reasons (popularity, revenue chances, ease of making) I’ve been interested in trying to make my own mobile arcade games.

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