As smartphones and mobile devices have grown in use and prevalence, so too have the number and variety of apps we use. The most popular (by far) are apps in the gaming genre, especially social gaming apps that allow players to build a community with other players online.
The mobile gaming industry is slated to hit $98 billion in revenue by 2024, and 56% of the 2.3 billion global mobile gamers play more than ten times every week. That’s a lot of players out there to get social with! Let’s take a look at what games they’re playing.
What are social gaming apps?
Social gaming apps are mobile games that include social features such as integrated messaging and social media, allowing players to communicate and interact during gameplay. Research has found that the more social a mobile game is, the longer players will remain engaged as they build a community with other online players.
The benefits for game developers and marketers are obvious: longer playtime and increased engagement mean more advertising revenue and ROAS (Return on Ad Spend). People love to work together, compete for rewards, and compare their progress to their friends — it’s proven!
Features of social games
How do you know if a mobile game is “social” or not? There are some distinct features of social games that will help you determine whether or not a game has social components.
- In-game chat functionality
- Activity feeds and leaderboards
- Push notifications (for receiving gifts, getting mentioned in a post, etc.)
- Guilds and guild mechanics
- Donations and user trading
- Social media integration
The benefits of social gaming for players
Social gaming has been growing in popularity for years and absolutely exploded during the Covid-19 global pandemic. With more time spent at home and fewer face-to-face interactions, people were still able to socialize via mobile games.
Besides helping to prevent feelings of isolation during the pandemic, social games help to create a tighter social fabric in which people are closer and more understanding with one another, even after they’ve been defeated in a game. There’s even a Ted Talk by American game designer Jane McGonigal called “Gaming Can Make a Better World.”
Social gaming apps to check out this year
There are thousands of new games released every week and not enough time in the day to play them all. So, based on downloads, player counts, reviews, and rewards, these are the top social gaming apps to try in 2021.
Location-based and augmented reality gaming is making a resurgence with the recently released Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, but for those of us who are still stuck inside, the dream of going out and catching Pokémon in a park with friends or at a cafe is still only a pipe dream.
Pokémon Go wasn’t the first, but it is the most successful game of its type, and it’s still going strong. It has a massive following and social features to share pokemon with friends throughout the world. Even Covid couldn’t slow it down. When lockdowns dropped, Niantic altered the drop rates so players could still play from their living rooms, adding items to remotely accessible locations.
Roblox started as another Minecraft clone but has since evolved into a behemoth of its own in the social gaming sphere. Its elder cousin, Minecraft, does have social aspects but nothing on the scale of Roblox.
There are thousands of minigames within the game, and all of them can be accessed online with friends. At this point, they’re completely different, but Roblox pulls ahead in terms of social play on mobile apps.
House of Fun
Sometimes known as a social casino app, House of Fun is actually all about slots. Produced by Playtika, this social slot game has a huge library of over 200 slots, all with top-of-the-class graphics and features for you to choose from.
While you can win rewards, you can’t win real money here. House of Fun is a free-to-play game built around virtual money. This is probably one of the biggest cons of social gaming apps, which is not being able to win real money from your gambling session.
Warhammer 40K: Lost Crusade
Released at the beginning of 2021, Lost Crusade adds a dark sci-fi fantasy world to the mix. Players build up their forces of super-enhanced soldiers to fend off demons of chaos and other alien aggressors.
Each player has their own base of soldiers, but without friends, you’ll quickly get overrun. Massive guild wars and some heavy PvP fighting makes social interaction a must. It doesn’t matter if you’re the strongest in the galaxy; if you’re alone, you’re in trouble.
Albion Online is an MMO (Massively Multiplayer Online) game in which you can pretty much do anything you want. The neat part of Albion is that every item in-game is crafted by another player. The entire economy within the game is player-driven. Entire guilds crop up dedicated to industry, transportation, or anything else you could think of.
You might never swing a sword the entire time you play and build up a massive economic empire, become a notorious pirate, be a sellsword, or just wander around picking flowers. It’s entirely up to the player and how they want to interact with others and the world.
With the increased popularity of social gaming apps, it’s easy to find games that are right for you. Players can easily read game reviews online or playtest games for free without spending any money to see if a certain game, theme, or playstyle is up their alley. Game on!