The Mobile Gaming Disappointments of 2023

Reflecting on the mobile gaming scene in 2023, it’s been a mixed bag of excitement and letdowns. On the bright side, we witnessed some stellar releases and breakthroughs that had us cheering. However, it wasn’t all smooth sailing as there were a few bumps in the road. Just like any evolving landscape, the mobile gaming industry experienced its share of unmet expectations and missed opportunities that we consider “disappointments“. So, as the year comes to a close, let us discuss the Mobile Gaming Disappointments of 2023.

The Demise of Mobile games in 2023

Year by year, just like how there is an increase in mobile game releases, we get to see many mobile game shutdowns too, and in 2023, the numbers aren’t less either. From our coverage itself, we have noticed at least 50 mobile game shutdowns this year, and it seems to be quite a lot considering how the year went, a good one for mobile games.

destiny child cover
Image via SHIFTUP

Some very good popular games such as Destiny Child, Mega Man X DiVE from Capcom, Square Enix’s RPG Echoes of Mana, BILIBILI’s Anime RPG Eternal Tree, and NetEase Games’ online shooter Hyper Front, to name a few showed great promise but bid their goodbyes to the mobile gaming realm.

For me, the biggest shock came with the shutdown of Netmarble’s open-world action RPG Marvel Future Revolution, which is undoubtedly one of the biggest in terms of disappointment alone. The game failed to capitalize on an IP that is immense and became extinct since they weren’t able to keep up. With these being discussed, let us discuss some “major” disappointments we got to see this year.

Apex Legends Mobile Wattson leak
Image via Electronic Arts

In February this year, much to the players’ shock, Electronic Arts decided to scrap the development of both Apex Legends Mobile and Battlefield Mobile, for which they stated that the content production for the game has not been meeting their standards in terms of quality, quantity, and release frequency. This was a shock as well as a disappointment for the players since both were of great promise.

The share of Bad mobile games

The releases happen yes, but how many of these games are good to play? There is an influx of bad games and I am one of the players who gets tricked by the false adverts and then decides to play the game. This year, the hype train derailed a few times, and we found ourselves stuck with games that were pretty bad experiences. So, let us about those titles that promised the moon in their trailers but delivered a lunar landscape of letdowns.

My first pick would be NBA All-World, an open-world sports title by Niantic. Hyped to be the “sport” version of Pokémon Go where players would have to take a real-world journey to progress, showcased some nice promise but opened to downright horrid experiences with gameplay being overshadowed by the bugs and problems that were never fixed. Didn’t last long and bid its goodbye.

NBA All-World Cover, NBA All-World referral codes
Image via Niantic

The notorious cycle of hype and deflation struck again with RAIDER SIX, an online multiplayer battle royale. This was showcased as “made in India” but was a shameful rip-off of popular battle royale titles like of PUBG Mobile or Call of Duty: Mobile. It was a lackluster experience with bugs, glitches, and frequent lags. It is a reminder that not all that glitters in the gaming world turn out to be gold.

PAYDAY: Crime War was also one of the games that was insanely hyped, but the experience for players wasn’t nice at all. Was in development for two years and launched to bad reviews and pretty average gameplay. As a result, just after a few months of official release, the game bid goodbyes to the smartphones.

Trimming the Human Network: Studio Shutdowns and Layoffs

This is a section that I’m not very keen to cover since these disappointments are sad given how involved the guys will be in the gaming sector. We saw a lot of layoffs and cuts in the industry. The condition was serious even for PUBG Mobile makers Krafton as they took steps to freeze the salary of the organization leader at the start of the year.

Among the studios, Gameloft was among the ones that shut down its Budapest office in Hungary focused on free-to-play mobile games, as the French company is speculated on the focus to work more on console and PC titles, adding to the confirmation of losing its grip on the mobile gaming industry, where it flourished years ago with games such as AsphaltReal Football, and Gangstar Vegas, to name a few.

Gameloft Game Logo Cover
Image via Gameloft

We also saw ByteDance bidding goodbye to the gaming industry and restructuring its Nuverse gaming brand, known for popular titles such as Marvel SnapEarth: Revival, and One Piece: The Voyage, while expressing no plans to re-enter the global video game market. Scarily enough, there were reports of the company in talks to sell its gaming unit MOONTON Technology, but CEO Justin Yuan put these rumors to rest a few days later.

Nifty Games Studio made headlines by discontinuing two of its most popular and engaging sports-themed games, NFL Clash and NBA Clash, while also shutting down the studio itself.
Kiloo Games, the co-developer of the popular Subway Surfers, issued termination warnings to all employees by the end of the month, which was a shock since the game was a household name for a long time, while the Game Director of Design at the studio had to request for employment opportunities.

Niantic Los Angeles studio laid off around 230 of its employees along with deciding to shut down NBA All-World and close the production of Marvel World of Heroes since both weren’t pleasing promises and with the aim to shift of focus toward making Pokémon Go a top priority for the developers, which they believed as a necessary step needed to stay competitive in the industry.

Marvel World of Heroes soft launch
Image via Niantic

Well, the reasons for these cutdowns can be plenty, but the majority lies in the market being slowly climbing up from the pandemic and losing the target audience. Sometimes, you can’t help but wonder why certain talented individuals haven’t been able to reach the heights they deserve. The competitive nature of the gaming market is unforgiving: one hit and the journey might not be as smooth sailing as we’d hoped. It’s a challenging sea to navigate, where even the most skilled sailors can face unexpected storms, which can be said to be part and parcel of the industry.

The bright light of 2024

With 2024 on the horizon, there’s an air of optimism that the gaming industry will bloom, rewarding the patience and hard work of developers. The potential for greatness is there, and we’re all eagerly anticipating the exciting innovations and stellar releases that may come our way.

However, it wouldn’t be surprising if we encounter more disappointments in terms of quality. Yet, let’s not deny the guilty pleasure of poking fun at those titles that missed the mark. After all, what harm is there in indulging in a bit of good-natured bashing? It’s all part of the fun in this ever-evolving gaming landscape. Here’s to hoping 2024 brings us not only top-notch games but also plenty of laughs along the way.

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