Apr 3, 2020

How to create a mobile game app

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Games are a favorite pastime for many regardless of age. Smartphones have given us the opportunity to play anytime, wherever we are. The mobile games market is huge now and almost everyone will find suitable options for themselves to take their free time. Surely many people dream of creating their own mobile game. Today we will talk about the main points that you need to consider if you are going to develop a game.

Is it worth starting 

The gaming industry is always a profitable area. This is annually confirmed by many analysts and statistics. Let’s look at the forecasts:

  1. App Annie predicts that in 2020, consumers will spend about 674 billion hours on mobile devices, compared with 558 billion in 2019.
  2. By the end of 2020, almost a third of the world’s population (2.4 billion) will play mobile games.
  3. More than 50% of mobile app users play games, making this category of apps as popular as music apps like Spotify and Apple Music. Games are second only to social networks in terms of time spent.
  4. Today, mobile games account for 33% of all application downloads, 74% of the costs associated with in-game processes.
  5. Mobile gaming revenue is also ahead of console gaming revenue.

Very promising forecasts, right? Therefore, the mobile game development market is quite open and promising for beginners. Even the simplest applications can find their audience.

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Types of Gaming Applications

To start creating your application, it’s worthwhile to figure out what games are in principle. You can be based on personal preferences or the popularity of game genres. Having decided on the type, you can conduct an analysis, determine the audience, and implementation methods.

  1. Action. The basis of this genre is the speed of reaction. The player must perform certain actions to complete the goals and finish the story.
  2. Adventures. This is an open-world map that the character explores and performs tasks.
  3. Racing. Simulators of real racing with cars, motorcycles and other vehicles.
  4. Board. These are typical board games that we usually play with friends or family. These include chess, checkers, and others.
  5. RPG or role-playing games. The character follows the storyline of the game, performs quests, fights with enemies.
  6. Sports. Inspired by real sports. For example tennis, basketball, football.
  7. Educational. Commonly used to educate children.
  8. Strategies. The type of game in which you need to think through an action plan.
  9. Casinos and card games. Poker, solitaire and other real games.
  10. Musical. They can imitate real instruments. Also, music games are created on the principle of performing actions in time with the music.
  11. Word games. Different variations of the composition of words.
  12. Casual. Games with simple gameplay for a wide audience.
  13. Puzzle. Puzzles that make the player solve complex problems.

In 2020, we can note the growing popularity of hyper-casual games that are played by everyone from children and housewives to experienced gamers, as well as the demand for games using AR and VR technologies.

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Features of development for mobile devices

Creating games on smartphones and tablets have a number of features that are worth paying attention to at each of the development stages.

  1. A touchscreen is for entering and outputting information, therefore, fingers should not close important interface elements.
  2. Smartphones and tablets should be comfortable to hold in order to play with one/two hands. This should be considered during game design.
  3. Limited RAM and graphics memory, which are often combined. You need to constantly monitor them, ship unnecessary resources, textures and compress the sound, that is, use compression formats.
  4. Graphics limitations. Real detailed graphics will most likely slow down the game.
  5. Distribution through the stores (App Store, Google Play). You will need support for shopping APIs, social features, and so on.
  6. For Android, you will have to consider a huge number of gadgets with different performance, aspect ratio and resolution.
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Game engines

The game engine is a software component that allows us to create and run video games. It provides developers with tools to create most of the components of the game and then allows you to put them together. The game engine affects all elements of the development of the game: from rendering, physics, sound design, creating AI to network aspects. Here are some popular game development engines for mobile development.

Unreal engine

A very advanced engine, whose community has been growing rapidly lately. It is suitable primarily for those who want to create a game with elaborate graphics. The development language is C ++. The Unreal Engine interface is easy to use, and you can test your game on the platform itself. In addition, the software provides a wide range of 3D graphics that you can use to make your game more appealing. It supports apps for Android and iOS.

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This is one of the most popular engines now. Unity is ideal for mobile development. Angry Birds 2, Hitman Go, Heartstone, Ori and the Blind Forest, Pokémon Go, Super Mario Run, and other popular games were made with its use.

In Unity, you can develop both 2D and 3D projects for Android and iOS. The engine offers many ready-made paid and free solutions: models, textures, animations, and high-grade projects. Also, a lot of training materials have been released for working with him, both from Unity itself and from the community. The engine uses the C # programming language, and also supports JavaScript. 

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Amazon’s young and free open-source engine based on CryEngine. Its main feature is native support for services from Amazon, such as AWS and Twitch. Suitable for iOS and Android, as well as VR headsets such as Oculus Rift and HTC Vive.

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Mobile game development steps


It all starts with an idea. At this stage, the team is working on a concept and primary design. Such preparation sets the vector for the development of the entire subsequent project: a work plan is being developed, the performers understand what tasks they have to fulfill, the testers clearly see what and how to test. Right now, documentation is being created that describes the product and its structure in detail.


An important stage in creating any game is prototypes. This phase involves writing small prototypes that express some part of the future game. For example, you have a great control idea for a character, and you create several options for its implementation, check the success of the idea, and then continue/stop developing. The stage of prototyping is needed in order to quickly verify all your assumptions using a minimum of funds, and also to find new ideas.


During pre-production, the team makes a large prototype, the so-called vertical cut of the future game. The goal of this stage is to get a full version of the game with the most minimal features, however, the main gameplay should be fully implemented. To work in high quality, you need only those elements of the game that significantly affect the perception of the product. In this case, all basic functions are implemented in draft form.


This is the stage during which the main work is performed. At this point, the team already clearly knows what to do and how. Artists, game designers, programmers — almost 100% of the team is involved in the production. All the features of the game, planned for closed beta testing, are realized. This is the longest stage, which can take a year or more if a serious project is planned.

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Beta test

The product is first presented to the small public. During testing, you need to search and fix errors, problems of game logic and eliminate critical bugs.

Soft launch

At this stage, testing of the game continues, but already at a wide audience. The development of new features will be completed. The site, social networks, channels for attracting users and support should be ready for the start of the trial run. Analysts collect launch success statistics. Now the team is deciding whether the game will be released or not.


Everything is clear with the release: the application is published, advertised and earns first money. The game is being finalized as necessary.

Ways of games monetization

Thousands of dollars are invested in mobile games, and monetization helps to recoup some of the funds. There are several ways to make money on your project.

In-app purchases

Offer users a free game with in-app purchases. This can be implemented in the form of game currency, bonuses, special items, hidden levels, improvements, etc.


Developers earn revenue by trading in personal data and displaying ads. We are talking about banners, full-screen advertising after the defeat or completion of the level, as well as viewing “video with rewards.” Over the past, players are given internal currency or some other bonus.

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Free-to-play (microtransactions)

Free-to-play (f2p) develops the ideas of the previous model. The task is to demonstrate the features of the project to the user for free and quietly push him to pay for various advantages. Among them are disabling ads, premium accounts, increasing the player’s capabilities, etc.

Paid Apps

Launching an application using this model is the safest way for a developer to enter the application arena. Using this method, it is very important to set the price correctly.

Estimated development cost 

Games can be either simple or advanced, with 3D graphics and physics, global ratings, AR support, and integration with social networks. Obviously, a more complex game costs more, so it’s hard to say exactly how much the application can cost. It all depends on the functionality. Gaming applications are the most popular category of applications in the world and, as a rule, the most profitable. For example, the famous Angry Birds cost developers about $140,000, and brought $70 million in the first year.

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A simple puzzle game using an open source engine can cost anywhere from $2,000 to $3,000. A simple HTML5 javascript game with a few of levels can cost about $1,000. A decent server game in which there is multiplayer and user data is stored can cost from $10,000 to $25,000. The price tag for serious projects with perfect graphics and many features can reach millions.

Wrapping up 

Creating a game application is a complex and lengthy process that requires attention at every stage: a standing idea, a good team, competent promotion. With this comprehensive guide, you can choose the direction, assess the risks and decide whether to start developing a mobile game. Such applications are still popular, you can always discover this area and successfully enter the global mobile games market. Good luck in developing your first project!