Mobile Game Development

Mobile Game Development

Smartphones and tablets are full of entertainment options for out-of-home gamers. While many play just to kill time, the others take it up as a hobby. Some even find new friends and communicate in multiplayer games.

You probably know such hits as Angry Birds, Clash of Clans, Fruit Ninja, Plants vs. Zombies, Subway Surfers. They’ve encouraged a number of startups to dive into the industry and come up with a mobile app or game. As simple as it may seem, such a project requires profound technology knowledge, creative thinking, and technical workflow skills. But are these lo-fi, compared to desktop and console, games can turn into a profitable business?

Top grossing mobile games

The Gaming Spotlight 2022 report from and IDC revealed that mobile games make 61% of the global gaming market, which is set to hit $222 billion by late 2022. From this, consumer spending on mobile games will generate $135 billion in revenue.

Meanwhile, in autumn 2022, a total of 41 great titles can boast over $1 billion in revenue. However, not every game dev creates a masterpiece. It’s not enough to copy some AAA-level title for success. Before turning an idea into a startup, one needs to study the major competitors in their target genre. Here are the top 10 billion-revenue games:

RankTitleAll-time revenue, $GenreDeveloper
1Honor of Kings14,667,500,000MOBATiMi Studio Group
2Monster Strike10,000,000,000Puzzle+RPGMixi
3PUBG Mobile9,000,000,000Battle royaleLightSpeed & Quantum Studio
4Puzzle & Dragons8,578,340,000Puzzle+RPGGungHo Online Entertainment
5Clash of Clans8,000,000,000StrategySupercell
6Pokémon Go7,760,000,000ARNiantic
7Candy Crush Saga7,456,000,000PuzzleKing
8Fate/Grand Order6,300,000,000RPGLasengle
9Fantasy Westward Journey4,700,000,000MMORPGNetEase
10Garena Free Fire4,330,000,000Battle royaleGarena

Mobile game development stages

Want to know how mobile games are developed, where to start, and what steps are required? All this comes down to 7 stages:

  1. Studying the market and coming up with an idea.
  2. Choosing a category for the future game.
  3. Working out the gameplay.
  4. Choosing a platform (OS).
  5. Creating a stunning design.
  6. Building a monetisation plan.
  7. Developing or ordering a mobile game.

The idea stage

Your idea is a cornerstone of your future success. Remember that seasoned game devs have already brought into life thousands of ideas. This means you need to either emerge with something really new or design a good old thing in a new way. No matter which method you choose, target a wider audience and think of people who will play your game.

Before you start creating a mobile game, decide what it will look like and who your target player is. Pick a genre. Will it be an arcade, a simulator, an action, a strategy, or an RPG? Think of the age group. Are you focusing on young people or mid-aged gamers? Answer these questions, then move on.

Choosing a category

Alongside dozens of genres, there are 3 main categories:

  1. Hyper-casual games don’t have a specific story and are played in short sessions. Combined with intuitive controls, this is what excites and engages lots of gamers.
  2. Mid-core games are more about strategic thinking. They usually utilise user ranking, which attracts competition fans. Examples: Apex Legends Mobile, Clash of Clans, Dislyte.
  3. Hardcore games are characterised by complexity and depth. They are powerful time busters for users who prefer all-out gaming. Examples: Civilization VI, Honor of Kings, PUBG mobile.

On the Apple App Store and Google Play, many of the most popular titles are mid-core and hardcore. Among the well-selling ones, almost all are mid-core games. But among the free ones, the most popular are mainly hyper-casual games.


A user is engaged in a game if it’s easy-to-play and has evolving difficulty. Intuitiveness and an addiction effect are two factors that will help you retain a good number of players.

People often lose interest in games that last too long. To fuel it up, offer short levels with plenty of unlockable content, various bonuses, and secret items — all to maintain engagement.

Choosing a platform

When developing a mobile game, you need to pick a target platform, i.e. an operating system. Developers usually focus on Android first, since this OS holds 71% of the market. Less often, they prioritise iOS. Cross-platform development could be a great compromise, but a hybrid product always entails a larger expense.

So, the deciding factor here is what your target market is. You’d better concentrate your resources on the OS that paying gamers will use. If extra costs are not a big deal for you, conquer both systems at a time.

Creating a stunning design

Creating a design for a mobile game is way trickier than for an app. Perfection is made up of small things, so you have to deal with hundreds of subtle aspects and fine points.

A classy design is sure to be remembered by sophisticated gamers. It can even become an advantage that will help you stand out from the crowd.

Building a monetisation plan

Only 3.1% of the 3.5 million apps on Google Play are paid. This share is so tiny because nowadays, the freemium model dominates the market. This monetisation model implies that a user can get an app for free but still has to pay to access some content in it.

However, there are other ways of monetisation alongside freemium:

  • In-game advertising. Most games are monetised through advertising. But a drawback here is that it does more to discourage players than it does to benefit developers. Many hyper-casual games get low ratings and complaints because of annoying ads. As a result, gamers think the only objective game dev studios have is making money on advertising.
  • Rewards for watching ads. This is a more appealing and socially acceptable format where users are rewarded for watching short promotional videos (e.g. with virtual currency).
  • Monthly subscription. It may be the best way to monetise a game. Here’s how it works. After a user starts a subscription and pays for it with a bank card linked to their store account, a small amount will be debited every month. It’s more convenient for players: they don’t have to watch ads, they only need to make monthly payments and enjoy all the available bonuses.
  • In-app purchases. Most grossing games utilise this monetisation model. It helps developers abandon advertising and allows players to use virtual currency for various purposes.

Developing or ordering a mobile game

The last step is developing a game directly in-house or outsourcing a mobile game dev company. You’ll need a team of experienced and skilful programmers who will turn your idea into a profitable business. Creating cool gaming projects requires a professional approach.

Polygant has been developing mobile games and apps for 10 years. We’re to embark on a project of any complexity and put into practice all your ideas, plots, and characters. Write to us to discuss your future masterpiece.

Mobile game engines

In the gaming industry, developers employ a plethora of integrated development environments (IDEs), game engines, toolkits, programs, and frameworks. Among them, there are 4 most common tools:

  1. Unity.
  2. Unreal Engine.
  3. AppGameKit.
  4. MonoGame.

Mobile game engines


Unity is a cross-platform game engine that was released by Unity Technologies in 2005. Supporting 25 platforms, it’s widely used in the gaming industry. It has a proprietary IDE and a modular component system. Developers employing this engine use C# to write scripts in the Unity editor, as well as KALI plugins.

Benefits of developing mobile games on Unity:

  • Fast prototyping and testing, and thus shorter development time
  • Easy debugging with a play mode in which variables are displayed in the gameplay
  • Audio and visual effects that can be adapted to any devices
  • Built-in analytics tools that provide information to improve gaming experience.

Unreal Engine

Unreal Engine is an engine that was released by Epic Games in 1996. Originally, it was designed for creation of first-person shooters, with Unreal (1998) being a pioneer. Later versions were used for a variety of genres and platforms. To facilitate porting, it utilises a modular system of dependent components. Developers employing this engine use C++ and the Blueprints system for visual scripts.

Benefits of developing mobile games on Unreal Engine:

  • High performance due to the fact that few computing resources are involved
  • Easy development thanks to open source
  • Facilitating the fast iteration process that is helpful in creating a new project
  • Supporting various rendering, audio playback, voice-over, and speech recognition systems.


This is a mobile game development toolkit that has been developed by The Game Creator since 2014. It comprises 3 versions:

  1. Classic, a standard IDE presented in 2014. It uses AppGameKit Script language and C++ libraries.
  2. Studio, an advanced IDE presented in 2019. It uses AppGameKit Script language, block design, and a drag & drop method.
  3. Mobile, a free mobile IDE. It also uses AppGameKit Script language. Then you can run the project directly on a smartphone or tablet with a quick compiler.

Benefits of AppGameKit:

  • 3 IDEs for developers of different levels
  • Intuitive scripting language
  • Cross-platform availability of IDEs and game projects
  • Built-in monetisation tools.


This is a free, open-source framework that was released by nonprofit organisation MonoGame Team in 2009. It’s used to create mobile games in C#. MonoGame finished the API XNA 4.0, which Microsoft earlier abandoned.

Benefits of MonoGame:

  • Flexibility and powerful customisation that help make games truly unique
  • Open source for even more flexibility
  • Simplified cross-platform development
  • Fast iterations to facilitate prototyping and project launching.

What mistakes to avoid in development

Progress has given the gaming industry new technologies, such as augmented and virtual reality. New horizons unfold for developers. Today, everyone is pursuing an idea of creating a mobile game full of trendy features. Only for some reason, many developers have the following common mistakes in their projects:

  • Overload with functions. Don’t stuff your early release with the entire range of functions. You’d better split the release process into several stages. Every subsequent version, bringing a couple of new functions, will help you learn more about user behaviour and what to improve.
  • Poor monetisation. Devote enough time to build a monetisation plan beforehand, so it corresponds to your goals (e.g. earliest profit) and market demand.
  • Loss of interest. To retain your players, you have to apply constant effort. Before you attract new players, find out why the existing ones are leaving. Possible reasons may include annoying bugs, lack of gamification mechanics, or unfriendly interface. Gamers get bored when nothing changes, so regularly introduce new levels, characters, and UI elements. Study the feedback to get hints on what shortcomings to eliminate and what ideas to implement.
  • Weak promotion. Even a flawlessly designed project will deliver nothing if not properly advertised. You have to invest in marketing to get rolling. Having a good budget at hand, you’ll be able to order reviews on popular blogs, publish ads on social media and gaming portals.
  • Inadequate developer team. If you can’t program, decide who will do the technical part. Do you need a full-time team? How many employees do you need? Will you hire some remote freelancers or delegate the project to a company that will develop a turnkey mobile game? When you need a solid approach, good quality, and have no months to waste, cooperating with professionals is your best option.

Polygant is a team that you need. We’re ready to work on your project from the very beginning, from writing the terms of reference, or improve your semi-finished game.

Where to order a mobile game

Polygant programmers are skilled and experienced in developing products for various operating systems. Having studied the requisites and specs, we dive into an agile cycle and strive to release the mobile game on time. We can handle any components and game types including:

  • Developing a game core
  • Modifying a gaming engine
  • Creating game assets
  • Introducing cutting-edge gaming functions
  • Porting to various platforms
  • Gamified learning apps
  • Social media games.

How much mobile game development costs

Creating a game is the most labour- and time-intensive process. You can’t go with a couple of low-cost freelancers here, such as a game designer and a full-stack developer alone. You need a full-value team of professionals including:

  • A game designer
  • A game writer
  • A level and map designer
  • An animator
  • A back-end developer
  • A front-end developer
  • An audio engineer
  • QA and testers

Mobile game development stages always include the following:

  1. Writing a design document (concept) — from 20 hours.
  2. Designing a game (gameplay, mechanics) — from 35 hours.
  3. Writing a script, conversations, UI text — from 20 hours.
  4. Designing maps and levels — from 30 hours.
  5. Drawing arts, sprites, textures, decorations — from 25 hours.
  6. Creating models, animations, cinematics, special effects — from 25 hours.
  7. Back end development — over 55 hours.
  8. Front end development — over 40 hours.
  9. Recording sound effects and backgrounds, mixing sound — from 20 hours.
  10. Testing — about 30 hours (depending on the number of platforms).

Based on these figures, the cost of developing a mobile game starts at $100,000. This is the cost of an MVP. Further expense will depend on the complicating factor. Please note that developers have to support your game after the release: fix possible bugs, improve the existing features and introduce new ones, create new content (levels, characters, items). This additional service is billed separately.

Employing unconventional thinking and creativity, Polygant creates exciting games. We use this approach at all stages to enhance our main skill, developing mobile games. Send a request, and we’ll start working on your project right after a discussion.

05 August 2020

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