Top 10 Most Popular Mobile Social Games

Day 213 - Temple Run

Moments of downtime or dead time are an inevitable part of daily life but they don’t necessarily have to be dreadfully boring, especially with all of today’s awesome game apps.

You probably know how surprisingly fun these can be; according to a recent article in Forbes, games apps constitute the highest source of revenue on Google Play and Apple’s App Store.

There are many great apps available and even more being developed to help pass the time. Here are 10 popular favorites in no particular order:

Angry Birds

Angry birds logo

Angry birds is practically a household name and yet if I explained the game on paper (catapulting birds like weapons + destroying forts = fun), it may not sound ingenious nor very exciting. But many of you know that the game experience is very different; it is super easy to get addicted. Here are a few reasons:

  • It is simple and because it is simple, players feel accomplished and empowered early on- Core Drive #2 (Development & Accomplishment).
  • The game develops in a way that allows the players to feel a clear sense of progress which further ingrains their sense of achievement.
  • Players can compete with their friends. There is a strong drive to beat the other person and score higher (even if they are your girlfriend or boyfriend)- Core Drive #5 (Social Influence & Relatedness).

Temple Run

Temple Run Logo

Temple run is an adventure game. Players interact as an explorer character who steals an ancient mask and must must escape the wrath of demon monkeys. The touch screen controls allow the explorer to run as fast as possible, trying to avoid dangerous traps and obstacles such as trees and roots- Core Drive #8 (Loss & Avoidance). Players can move left or right. They can also duck, turn or jump as well.

There is now a Temple Run 2 which is based off the movie, Brave. The objective is to use archery to hit a target and collect coins. By the fourth day of its release, it had already been downloaded 20 million times!

Cut the Rope

Cut the Rope Logo

Cut the rope is a puzzle game that utilizes mechanical physics. This is another example where the story and concept are lackluster compared to actual gameplay experience. Players are required to cut pieces of rope which are affixed to candy. The goal is to get the edibles into the mouth of a little round creature by solving puzzle challenges.

Sometimes the rope has to be cut at the right time. The candy might be attached to several pieces of rope which need to be cut in a certain order. Players are driven to keep overcoming past failures until they succeed. This is a great example of Core Drive #2 (Development & Accomplishment) and Core Drive #3 (Empowerment of Creativity & Feedback) which together instill a sense of empowerment and awesomeness.

The Room

The Room Logo

The immediate appeal of the Room is the graphics which convey a sense of mystery and a supernatural air. Players are presented with a series of ornate looking objects that turn out to be individual puzzles that must be solved in order to progress. As the player solves puzzles, they learn more about a stranger named A.S.- Talk about Core Drive #7 (Unpredictability & Curiosity)!

As puzzle levels are solved, players occasionally glimpse into a different dimensions beyond their physical reality. Many people feel that the story line is not as compelling as the actual puzzle-solving which fosters a strong sense of Core Drive #2 (Development and Accomplishment) as well as Core Drive #3 (Empowerment of Creativity and Feedback).

Draw Something

This app has ingeniously integrated drawing into a game context. It appeals to both the avid drawing savant as well as those who prefer (or can only muster) simple stick figures.

The idea is for players to visually convey a concept so that the other player can easily figure out what is being communicated. Not only does this include concrete nouns like, dog, house and Paris, but more abstract words like rapture, enthusiasm and perplexed. When the other person guesses correctly the player earns a sense of empowered creativity (Core Drive #3)

Fruit Ninja

With this app, players are challenged to use a single finger swipe like a ninja sword to cut as many fruit as possible in mid air. This is so simple, yet so addicting.  It is easy to get hooked from the quick, yet satisfying fulfillment of (Core Drive #2).

At some point, striped bananas may appear, bombarding the player with a flurry of fruit they must cut. This is a great opportunity to achieve a higher score.

Also, some of the fruit are bombs which cannot be sliced. Otherwise points will be taken away- (Core Drive #8). Once players reach a certain level, they are eligible to purchase smoothie boosts- (Core Drive #4)- for extra time or to render the bombs invisible.

Mega Jump

In Mega Jump, players help a little roundish creature jump as high as possible in order to collect coins (Core Drive #4). In doing so, they also need to avoid enemy obstacles which can entail death (Core Drive #8).

Collecting the coins is enormously fun. Who wouldn’t find it rewarding to get as much gold as possible? Plus, the creature is able to reach greater heights as it continues its travels through the clouds. Once the player gets to a certain level, the boosts become more like an adrenaline rushing experiences as the creature accelerates upwards like a rocket.


Limbo Logo

Most video games are graphically very bright and colorful but Limbo departs from that norm. It’s unique black and white palette and spooky fictional forest really makes it stand out.

The main character is a little boy who has just woken up in this strange place and must find his sister. Through a combination of Core Drive #1 (Epic Meaning & Calling) and Core Drive #7 (Unpredictability & Curiosity), you help the little boy traverse the quest.

The forest presents many dangerous challenges. So the player’s job is to make sure the little boy avoids getting killed. Along the way, it is important to be creative and resourceful to conquer challenges in the environment (e.g. dragging a dead bear to kill spiders).

Once the player gets through the forest, they then reach a dilapidated urban scene where it is suggested that the nameless boy finds what he’s looking for (I won’t give it away).



Like Limbo, Badlands is another visual story adventure. But instead of the usual running, jumping and climbing, the player moves as a blob or as a group of blobs.

The environment is tricky and constantly evolves. The challenge is to move as efficiently as possible (through pipes etc) while avoiding traps and other hazards like fans.

Power ups include abilities like multiplying the blobs, where the offspring are much smaller than the original, allowing the player to move through tighter spaces.

Where’s My Water

Where's my water logo

In this Disney game, there is a cartoon alligator (Swampy) who lives underground in the sewer and needs to take a bath. However, when he turns on the faucet, there is no water, since another alligator (Cranky) disrupted the supply.

The player must dig tunnels through the dirt above to allow water to reach the alligator’s tub. Sometimes pipes can be used to route the water more effectively.

Occasionally algae may absorb the water that the player is trying to direct. Sometimes there is slime or ooze which may reach Swampy’s tub preventing him from having his bath (wouldn’t that be terrible if you woke up one morning and had to do what Swampy does?) However, toxins can be used as good thing to kill unwanted algae.

The Top 10 Mobile Social Games in Summary

For the most part, people get hooked on games that are fairly simple but offer a sense of progress and accomplishment. And many of the apps in this list reflect this. Game enthusiast and CNN contributor, Chris Pirillo expresses that, “The problem with games is they’re usually so overly complex. If I can’t figure it out within a minute, I move on… And you know, there are lot more people like me than people who would take a lot of time to get into a game.”

Any other games you think should be up on this list?

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    3 thoughts on “Top 10 Most Popular Mobile Social Games”

    1. I think Alto’s Adventure should be on the list. Does a lot of things right to give players a sense of accomplishment and keep the gameplay fresh.

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