The stories behind the stories of 2022: Monument Valley 3, Hill Climb Racing, Boom Beach and other exclusives

 

It’s the end of 2022, so let’s get self-indulgent: this week we’re publishing a few personal story highlights from the first year of mobilegamer.biz, and giving you a peek behind the curtain on how they came to be published.

The aim of this site since launch has been to simply publish one interesting, exclusive story per day and build from there.

So here are some of my personal favourites plus the most popular exclusives from the last year:

New Monument Valley game goes green with director Jennifer Estaris

When I was thinking about launching this site, the dream game reveal was Monument Valley 3.

I didn’t get it, of course, but I got close enough – the day this site went live we broke the news that Monument Valley 3 is in development, is being directed by Disney and Sybo veteran Jennifer Estaris and is likely to tackle issues around climate change and the natural world.

Later, when we spoke to Danny Gray about Ustwo Games’ Netflix debut Desta, he added: “They’ve really started to kind of narrow on a concept, which is really great. And they’re starting to add more people to the mix so there’s some really exciting stuff going on there. But they’re a long way off.”

Hill Climb Racing 3 incoming as Fingersoft closes in on 2bn total installs; multiple buyout offers refused

As an industry site it’s more important to get relevant readers than as many of them as humanly possible, so SEO is not really a thing. But occasionally a story will cover both bases, and that’s the case here. Thousands of people Googling ‘Hill Climb Racing 3’ stumbled upon this look at the history and inner workings of Fingersoft in the last year, making it our 8th most-read story of 2022.

Space Ape is ending development on Boom Beach: Frontlines – here’s why

We were briefed on the closure of Boom Beach: Frontlines before the news broke, so the second it was announced we could publish this deep and really insightful post-mortem from Space Ape boss Simon Hade.

Activision and Take-Two are making more cash from mobile than PC and console combined

Okay, so the financial data here is all a matter of public record, but the angle and the context are what’s unique here. This one really took off because there’s very little noise and hype around mobile in the press compared to PC and console. Somehow, it’s still surprising to many folks in the business that even these two giants of the ‘traditional’ games industry have extremely lucrative mobile arms.

Marvel Snap clears $10m revenue, 12m downloads in its first month

Appmagic data has been an excellent source of stories in the last year, and with Marvel Snap getting huge interest after launch, this look at its first month on the market got picked up by a ton of much larger consumer and industry sites.

Zynga Helsinki closing, underperforming FarmVille 3 moves to Bengaluru

Studio closure stories are never fun to write, but they always get a ton of readers. This one was the result of several weeks of research and sourcing from folks with intimate knowledge of what went down at the studio in the last few months. I did offer various Take-Two/Zynga spokespeople the chance to comment and set the record straight, but they did not respond.

“Massive” layoffs at Wildlife as it drops all non-mobile game projects

Again, it’s not pleasant to report on people losing their jobs, but this story got a lot of traction nonetheless. This was another one sourced just by knowing where to look on LinkedIn. I got it officially confirmed through a Wildlife spokesperson – take note, Take-Two/Zynga.

Ubisoft’s Wild Arena Survivors is an aborted Far Cry mobile game

Here’s an unusual one: a new Ubisoft game that really looks like a Far Cry game, but isn’t. I spotted this in App Store featuring one week and thought it was odd; after some research and an off the record chat with someone close to the project, I discovered it was put into soft launch as Wild Arena Survivors to potentially ‘earn’ the Far Cry brand and a marketing push if it performed well.

It didn’t, so it kept its test name and was released worldwide with zero fanfare. Our source was also pretty damning when talking about Ubisoft’s efforts in mobile:

“Knowing Ubisoft like I do, I’d imagine they spent more money than they should have on development, and this is an attempt to recoup what they can and also learn from pushing a fully realtime multiplayer game out. Even if games are bloated, expensive and showing poor metrics, if there are learnings from releasing it there’s value in doing it. It feeds the larger organisation.”

Wild Arena Survivors’ strange launch is indicative of a wider mobile malaise at Ubisoft, added our insider: “You’ve got the publisher that we all know – Assassin’s Creed, Tom Clancy – and you’ve got mobile, which is the forgotten child. Mobile has very little oversight, support or financing from the larger parent company.” Oof.