A guide to multiplayer games for 2021


How do multiplayer mobile games work?

As mobile devices become more and more complex and progress technologically, they also allow the capacity to support more engaging and intricate gameplay to meet a certain standard players demand - such as live multiplayer gameplay.

The constant need to live up to console-level quality has caused mobile developers a great deal of stress. Engaging countless players in matches running in real time, with no lag, secure gameplay while maintaining player satisfaction on mobile is no simple feat.

The phenomenon that is multiplayer mobile games is accomplished by connecting players to one another via a server that is ideally of equal distance to all the players in the game, using a sophisticated matchmaking system. This method of grouping players together also deals with other crucial factors such as opponent skill levels, optimal number of players, mid game drop-ins and drop-outs, and acceptable wait time for a match connection. These elements all play in to running an effective service-based multiplayer game in the competitive landscape that is mobile gaming.

How do multiplayer mobile games monetize

Aside from the technological hurdles developers have to jump through, there is the matter of how to monetize users in real-time. In-app purchases are one way to monetize multiplayer games, however they cannot rely on the tried and true method of rewarding high spenders with the most premium tools or weapons. Why? Doing so will shift the odds in favor of IAP purchasers favor, while players who don't buy as many items will be left in the dust, causing resentment among the player community. The key is to be thoughtful of the player experience, and not to force any in-game purchases, rewarding skill and determination instead - as those values have proved successful historically with skill based games. Take DOTA 2, for example, they made $18 million a month in part due to their IAP reward system.

Things get a little trickier when monetizing with ads for multiplayer mobile games as they don't necessarily have intermission points between levels to integrate an interstitial ad, and you definitely can't place an ad mid-gameplay. But there are a few ways around it, such as placing interstitials at the end of a match, in the game lobby, or perhaps for spectators while they wait for the next round. Interstitials are typically recommended over other ad units such as rewarded video, as they do not alter the dynamics of the game with more rewards granted for users who watch more videos. As multiplayer mobile gaming is still in its infancy, it pays to test out different monetization mechanics before integrating ad units left and right. Check out monetization A/B testing to learn more.

What are cross-platform multiplayer mobile games?

Nowadays many online video games support cross-play between mobile, handhelds, consoles, and computers to unite players on all platforms. This is achieved through sharing the same online server connecting PS4, Xbox One, PC, and mobile together. Aside from giving the player more freedom in deciding where, when, and on what device to play on, cross-platform gameplay has opened up the door to an expansion of the player community. This provided a solution to a common problem of engaging with those stubborn friends loyal to different devices, or worst yet, finding an online match.

How cross-platform multiplayer gaming is changing the industry

Times are a changin’, the idea of cross-platform multiplayer gaming was unheard of not so long ago, as Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft were fierce contenders in a war for gaming platform superiority. Massive fully cross-play multiplayer hits like Fortnite and Minecraft have broken through platform barriers and proved to be successful nonetheless, awakening competitors to the potential of collaboration in supporting more online multiplayer titles. It is only the beginning it seems, as more and more gaming communities express tremendous desire for cross-play, we can expect to see additional games fully adopting cross-platform multiplayer gaming and riding this new wave of cooperation into the future.

Best mobile games to play with friends

Here are some of the best multiplayer games to make their way to mobile:


Cost: $4.99
Available on: iOS and Android
This highly addictive game immerses the user in a strange 3D building block world where anything goes. The Minecraft series has been around for what feels like a century now, and has consistently been one of the most popular multiplayer games on any platform, whether it’s been PC, Xbox, and now - mobile. The mobile version, Minecraft: Pocket Edition, is probably the closest you’ll get to console level quality in a mobile game today.

Pokemon GO

Cost: Free
Available on: iOS and Android
Pokemon has been a childhood sensation for as long as we can remember. This best-selling video game franchise has rocked the boat when it released the first ever successful augmented reality game in mobile. Instead of dropping the player in the world of Pokemon, this unique gameplay brings these fantastic virtual creatures into the players world, thanks to GPS and AR technology. Essentially letting you locate, capture, train and battle them as you go out for a morning stroll. Read more about Pokemon GO here.

Fortnite: Battle Royale

Cost: Free
Available on: iOS and Android
The word ‘Fortnite’ has become synonymous with gaming, as it drew in more than 125 million players in less than a year, and rose to be the most popular game in the world. The mobile version, Battle Royale, is essentially a shoot-survival game that transports the player onto an island with a 100 or so other players ready to scavenge, build and kill each other until the last man standing. By March 2019, the game has been played by over 250 million people, generating over $2 billion globally.

Words with Friends

Cost: Free
Available on: iOS and Android
The classic crossword puzzle games have seen new found interest since Words with Friends came out in 2009. The gameplay offers players the opportunity to engage their friends or random strangers in a highly competitive word game. It has been so successful that in May 2017, Words with Friends, was given the title of the most popular mobile game in the US.

Clash of Clans

Cost: Free
Available on: iOS and Android
The Clash of Clans gameplay is set in a make-believe world where a community of online players get into clans, gather resources, trade, and battle one another for honor, glory, and loot. There has been a lot of attention surrounding this game as Supercell has been heavily promoting it on every media channel. They even ranked as the 5th most watched Super Bowl commercial in 2015.

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