It shouldn’t be strange to anyone that mobile games, those that we play on our mobile devices, are currently the most popular in terms of player numbers. But, there is a question of which smartphone games use popular IPs because they can do something different and where it is just for aesthetics.
Generally, there are three types of use when it comes to intellectual property in smartphone games:
- Adaptations of popular games
- IP from Movies and Shows
- Straight Book to Mobile Game adaptation
And there is nothing wrong with any of these. While mobile devices are relatively less powerful than their console or PC counterparts, they are a very accessible medium and could be compared with PC games from about 15 years ago, which is not a bad thing.
Additionally, we should exclude some options like the USA online casinos you can play games for real money, as these use a lot of intellectual property from other types of media and are played by a lot of people every day.
Finally, there are direct adaptations, and while there might be few of them in the West, in Japan it is not uncommon for a game to go straight from a manga or light novel to a mobile game.
Adaptations for Mobile
As mobile devices are gaining in strength there are now options to adapt some games directly for mobile devices. Here, we can see everything from shooters to RPG games. At this moment, the most popular mobile game is GTA 5, which is also extremely popular on other devices.
The games on PC and consoles are not the same as with mobile, but many will remember the graphics from games such as GTA: Vice City but with new themes and maps.
Some games like Player Unknown Battlegrounds (PUBG) became simultaneously popular on both devices and there are those like the Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic that are getting their much-deserved rebirth on mobile platforms.
Puzzles and Spinners
Puzzle Games, and especially gotcha and spinner games got their fill of established IPs very early. A lot of people like playing with themes from Game of Thrones, Narcos, or similar shows as they make the game feel familiar.
Additionally, due to the proliferation of micropayments and loot boxes, the idea that some gambling can be connected with such property was not beside the owners, so it was never a problem. Now, there are a lot of casinos online in the USA that use popular property to promote their products.
Although many gamers will argue that these are not adaptations but rather only themes, they are still using the IP with which people are familiar. And, in many cases, this will inform how the mechanics of the game work, making the whole experience more interesting.
Book to Mobile
While there are Western examples, such adaptations are still much more frequent in Japan and China, which are also the biggest hubs for mobile development. Still, a good example of the former is Agatha Christie: The ABC Murders, which follows the mustached Belgian, Hercule Poirot, as he solves murders.
Also, there are opposite examples where the anime or manga is based on the mobile game. Games like Azure Lane, Fate/Grand Order, and Ensemble Stars! have all come from mobile games of the same name to become very popular as anime shows.
In general, every popular manga series will get both the anime and the mobile game, as these are the best ways to further monetize the IP. Similarly, any show in the West will have a good time if they expand to iOS and Android, as the added recognition of the property can only grow, especially if it’s also a good game.