This week in mobile games, we learned that Blizzard won’t be bringing World of Warcraft to mobile after all, new Bomberman and Jetpack Joyride games are coming to Apple Arcade, and Clash of Clans is 10 years old. Or maybe 40? It's hard to say.
There are also three superb new games to play: an indie hit about propaganda and passport control, a poignant tale about grief and memories, and an all-action downhill biking game.
Let’s get into it, shall we?
World of Warcraft Mobile is no more
The long-rumored mobile version of World of Warcraft has been canceled, according to a report by Bloomberg. The game was apparently in development for three years and pitched as a spin-off of the PC game set in a different time period, but still intended to offer the same kind of online role-playing experience as the original.
The reasoning for the cancelation is unclear. Bloomberg reported that it was a financial disagreement between WoW maker Blizzard and co-developer NetEase, but this has since been denied by a spokesperson for Activision Blizzard.
This is a strange one. A game can get canceled for all sorts of reasons, but usually, it’s financial. If the game’s not projected to make enough profit, it’ll get whacked. But WoW is a huge brand and a wildly loyal fanbase, one all-but guaranteed to pick up and play a mobile version of the beloved MMORPG.
Also, Blizzard and NetEase just co-developed and launched Diablo Immortal together, and it has been a wild success. You’d imagine that same Blizzard-NetEase tag team would be more confident than ever that a mobile WoW experience would work.
Perhaps the costs and technical challenges of running a big, complex online world full of players on mobile devices, in all their different shapes, sizes, and capabilities, were just too much.
Those still hankering for a bit of World of Warcraft on mobile will now have to wait for action-strategy spin-off Warcraft Arclight Rumble, though that still doesn’t have a release date.
Bomberman and Jetpack Joyride boost Apple Arcade
Apple continues to add interesting stuff to its Arcade service, even though it is now starting to remove some games from the catalog due to contracts not being renewed.
This month, two new games caught our eye in particular: Amazing Bomberman and Jetpack Joyride 2. The former is, you know, Bomberman, the four-player game where you blow each other up. But this edition has a musical theme, meaning the stages change and intensify alongside the soundtrack.
And more Jetpack Joyride is always a good thing. It's a true classic from the earliest days of the App Store. The sequel comes with fancier graphics, more outlandish power-ups, and even a story mode.
Amazing Bomberman is out today, and Jetpack Joyride 2 arrives on Aug. 19. Elsewhere on Apple Arcade this month, there’s virtual pet game My Talking Tom (coming August 12) and indie puzzle adventure Love You To Bits (arriving August 26).
Clash of Clans celebrates some birthday. We're not sure.
The game that launched a million build-and-battlers, Clash of Clans, celebrated its 10th birthday this week, and developer Supercell had some fun with its anniversary celebrations.
First, it created a full alternate history of the series and chronicled it all in a lavish mockumentary telling the "inside story" of the series, from its humble beginnings in the 1980s with pixel art platformer Clash through to 1990s N64-style kart racer Clash Dash and ‘edgy’ 2000s mega-flop Clash: Cradle of Darkness.
Clash and Clash Dash are even real, playable games you can check out through your iPhone or iPad’s browser on the game’s anniversary site. (They don’t work on Mac, sadly.)
There are also retro-themed 10th-anniversary events running in Clash of Clans itself, of course.
What to play this week
"Papers, Please" but small. August 5th. pic.twitter.com/87o8IqfCdFJuly 23, 2022
We got three big game releases this week: Papers, Please, Descenders, and Hindsight. They're all great and all worth the money upfront.
Papers, Please is the multi-award-winning indie game from Lucas Pope, neatly optimized for iPhone and iPad. It was on iPad once before but was removed from the App Store presumably due to OS update woes. But now it’s back and working very nicely indeed on both iPhone and iPad.
You play as an immigration inspector managing the flow of people in and out of the fictional communist state Arstotzka. Its message about people, power, and propaganda remains incredibly poignant, moreso today than when it was first released back in 2013.
Next, Descenders is the hit downhill biking game that’s been tearing it up on PC and console for a few years now, ported with style over to iPhone and iPad.
As your rider blazes downhill, you use the virtual sticks on each side of the screen to keep them on two wheels and try to pop a few tricks while you’re at it. It’s really excellent, and the tracks are procedurally generated, so it’s different every time you play.
Operating at a slightly more sedate pace is Hindsight, the new game from Joel McDonald, who won Apple’s Game of the Year award for his debut Prune in 2015.
This one’s rather different from his tree-pruning first game. It’s an interactive story experience where important objects from the main character Mary’s life become literal portals into the past. So it’s a mix of puzzles and almost point-and-click adventure-like exploration, with poignant choices to be made along the way.
It’s published by Annapurna Interactive and feels very much at home on that label, which is fast becoming the home of critically-acclaimed indie games.
Until next week!
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Neil Alexander Long is a gaming contributor for iMore, as well as the founder and editor of mobilegamer.biz, a mobile games industry website that specialises in exclusive news, interviews and insights.
He started his games media career almost 20 years ago on UK games industry magazine MCV, before editing Official Nintendo Magazine, interactive iPad magazine iGamer (RIP) and edge-online.com (also RIP), Edge magazine’s online presence.
In 2014 he moved to Apple to serve as App Store games editor. There he helped launch new App Stores on Apple Watch and Apple TV, the App Store's UK Today tab, Apple Arcade and countless games, including Clash Royale, Monument Valley 2, Brawl Stars, Candy Crush Friends Saga and Beatstar.