TIME Video Games

10 Most-Anticipated New iPhone Games

Have a look at our picks for the most promising iPhone games yet to come this year

We’re already playing some of 2015’s best iPhone games—take a bow, Sorcery! 3, Auro: A Monster-Bumping Adventure, Planet Quest and Ryan North’s To Be or Not To Be—so here’s a look at what’s left (that we know of, anyway) between now and year’s end.

  • Guitar Hero Live

    “No console? No problem,” reads the tagline for the handheld version of Activision’s upcoming rhythm rock-a-thon rethink. “The full game experience will be available on select mobile devices,” boasts the publisher, referring to a big-screen experience that’s designed to put you onstage with a live-ish reactive band and audience. How’s that work on a 5-inch screen? We’ll doubtless find out at E3 next month.

    Late 2015

  • Disney Infinity 3.0

    If playing Star Wars in story-less, multiplayer-focused, first-person shooter battle arenas turns you off—hello, Star Wars Battlefront!—then Disney Infinity 3.0 represents our best shot at solo-supportive, sandbox-based, story-driven Star Wars experiences. Look for characters like Anakin, Luke, Leia, Han and Vader to broaden Disney’s toy-game stable, and like last year’s version 2.0, the iPhone version of 3.0 should be all but identical to its console and tablet peers.

    Late 2015

  • Minecraft: Story Mode

    Telltale Games

    Did Minecraft need a narrative when part of the game’s triumph is the way it drives players to create their own? We’re going to find out when adventure-maker Telltale Games puts its imprimatur on the Lego-like sandbox builder later this year.

    TBD 2015

     

  • Age of Empires: World Domination

    The Age of Empires real-time strategy franchise fizzled a long time ago, and hasn’t seen a hit in years, so there’s understandable trepidation about this mobile-oriented version’s prospects. Can newcomer KLab Global resuscitate defunct creator Ensemble Studios’ once-beloved series? Pull it off without inundating players with freemium nagging? We’ll see.

    TBD 2015

  • Zodiac

    Boasting heady tunes by Final Fantasy XII‘s Hitoshi Sakimoto and expert scenario design by Final Fantasy VII‘s Kazushige Nojima, Zodiac is a 2D roleplaying game that marries side-scrolling levels with turn-based combat. Sounds a little like Valkyrie Profile, no? The difference: Zodiac transpires in an “ambitious” persistent online world, and supports cross-platform play (with Sony’s PS Vita handheld, and possibly others yet to be announced).

    TBD 2015

  • Ember

    If the demo teaser for N-Fusion’s Ember reminds you even a little of Ultima VII: The Black Gate, that’s no coincidence–the developer admits its upcoming fantasy quest-spinner was inspired by Origin’s classic 1992 title, remembered for its still rarely equalled depth of world and character design.

    TBD 2015

  • Firefly Online

    It’s one of TV’s most beloved science fiction tales reimagined as a roleplaying game in which players can pilot their own ships, assemble their own crews and trade with (or create missions for) other players. The original cast came back to handle voice work for their characters, which appear throughout the game.

    TBD 2015

  • Super Meat Boy Forever

    It’s the official sequel to 2010’s acclaimed platform game starring a tiny cube of flesh that darts and leaps through hundreds of trap-filled levels.

    TBD 2015

  • Forma.8

    You’re stuck orbiting an alien planet, your reserves nearly depleted, so you deploy a tiny probe to the planet, hoping to retrieve an underground energy source and continue your journey. Studio MixedBag dubs Forma.8 a “Metroidvania” (that is, Metroid plus Castlevania), wherein you’ll explore a mammoth and interlinked series of levels, solving puzzles and battling enemies to accomplish your goals.

    TBD 2015

  • Clockwork

    Explore a 400-year-old clockwork metropolis as Atto, a mechanical boy who sets out to mend both his malfunctioning machine city and its many robotic inhabitants—human survivors, who abandoned their organic bodies centuries ago to escape the ravages of a deadly plague.

    TBD 2015

TIME technology

Angry Birds Maker Rovio Sees Profits Fall 73% in 2014

"Angry Birds" merchandise displayed in Jakarta, Indonesia in 2012.
Romeo Gacad—AFP/Getty Images "Angry Birds" merchandise displayed in Jakarta, Indonesia in 2012.

The maker of the game is hoping that the upcoming Angry Birds film will help bolster a plunge in revenue.

The maker of the Angry Birds franchise said Thursday that profits were down last year as new games overtook its mainstay in popularity.

Finnish developer Rovio said its 2014 revenue dropped to 158.3 million euros ($169 million) from 173.5 million euros a year earlier and profits fell 73% to 10 million euros, the Wall Street Journal reports. Merchandise sales plummeted to 41.4 million euros from 73.1 million euros.

Angry Birds, launched in 2009 at the price of $0.99, has been surpassed in popularity by free-to-download alternatives. King Digital Entertainment, the maker of Candy Crush Saga, pulled in $2.26 billion last year.

In an effort the help rejuvenate the company, Rovio is releasing an animated film, Angry Birds, in May 2016. The 3D film is being developed by Sony Pictures Imageworks, and will star Jason Sudeikis, Danny McBride, Bill Hader, Maya Rudolph and Peter Dinklage.

[Wall Street Journal]

TIME Mobile Gaming

Candy Crush Maker Diversifies, but Profits Take a Dip

King Digital leans less on its biggest game, but profits drop from $159 million in the fourth quarter of 2013 to $127 million in the first three months of 2014

Candy Crush Saga maker King Digital has an answer for critics who’ve called the company a one-hit wonder.

In the first quarter of 2014, King’s revenue stream was more diverse than ever, with 67% of its earnings coming from Candy Crush. That’s down from 78% in the last quarter of 2013, as King pushes new games like Farm Heroes Saga. King now has three of the 10 top-grossing games in both the iOS App Store and the Google Play Store, with Pet Rescue Saga rounding out King’s list of hits.

King also notched record revenues of $607 million, for a year-over-year increase of 195%.

It wasn’t all good news though. Profits are down sequentially, from $159 million in the final quarter of 2013 to $127 million in the first three months of the year. King said the lower profits are due to an increased headcount and the launch of Farm Heroes Saga, according to Business Insider.

The number of “unique payers”–that is, people paying for in-app power-ups–dropped to 11.9 million last quarter, down from 12.2 million in Q4 2013, and down from a peak of 13 million in Q3 2013.

That may explain why King’s stock is taking a dive today. At the time of publication, it was currently trading at $16.61 per share, compared to its IPO pricing of $22.50 per share. The company’s March IPO flopped badly, with shares falling 16% on the day of release.

[WSJ]

TIME Mobile Gaming

Wall Street Sours On Candy Crush IPO

Candy Crush Game Maker King Announces IPO to List in New York
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images The "Candy Crush Saga" game is displayed on an Apple Inc. iPhone 5s and iPad Air in this arranged photograph in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014.

The mobile-game maker King Digital Entertainment missed its initial offering at $22.50 per share ahead of its trading that began this morning on the New York Stock Exchange as shares sank to around $20.50

Updated 10:30 ET

Investors failed to bite on King Digital Entertainment’s stock during the first day of trading Wednesday, as the maker of the smash hit mobile app Candy Crush saw its share prices drop 9% by 10:30 to around $20.50.

King Digital had raised $500 million before Wednesday by pricing its stock at $22.50 a share, valuing the company at $7 billion—one of the biggest IPOs so far this year, reports the New York Times. The stock began trading on the New York Stock Exchange Wednesday.

Candy Crush Saga attracts nearly 100 million active users every day, leading to enormous profits for the company. Its earnings bounced 7,000 percent from the same time a year ago to nearly $568 million in 2013.

But some question whether King Digital isn’t just a one-trick pony riding the success of Candy Crush. “Companies like King are reliant on hits,” Mark Little, an analyst at the technology consultant Ovum in London told the Times. “It’s an open question whether they can sustain their success.”

[NYT]

TIME Video Games

Zynga Wants You Back with New Farmville, Words With Friends and Poker

Zynga

What's Facebook? Zynga's new games are all about phones and tablets.

If you could just stop playing Candy Crush Saga for a minute, Zynga would really like you to get back into Farmville, Words With Friends and Poker now.

As such, the company is announcing revamped versions of its hit games for mobile devices:

  • FarmVille 2: Country Escape has you raising crops in a coastal setting on phones and tablets. It connects with the web version of FarmVille 2, has a common rewards system and adds “Social Control” options so you don’t have to spam all your friends and family with your progress. It also works offline.
  • Words With Friends is getting a dictionary, leaderboards and detailed statistics. Players can switch to the new version and have all their in-progress games and history carry over.
  • Zynga Poker will be faster and more responsive, and will learn how good of a player you are to match you up with people of equal skill.

Things haven’t been going so well for Zynga. A few years ago, Zynga dominated Facebook gaming with hits like FarmVille and CityVille, but the company hasn’t been able to sustain that success, and declining user numbers have led Zynga to lay off hundreds of employees over the last year. On mobile devices, Zynga hasn’t been as dominant, and one of its biggest efforts to buy into the space–with the $200 million purchase of Draw Something makers OMGPOP–was a spectacular failure.

The trio of revamped games are a clear attempt by Zynga to refocus on mobile. In fact, the company’s blog post announcing the games doesn’t mention Facebook at all. Still, Zynga will need more than few warmed over classics to recapture the enthusiasm of its Facebook heyday.

MORE: The History of Video Game Consoles – Full

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