The Best Mobile Games of 2023

The best mobile games of 2023 featured mischievous word goblins, Sanrio friends, Disney icons, and more.
best mobile games 2023 gameshub goty

What a year it’s been for mobile games. The platform has frequently been the subject of harsh criticism for the sheer number of mobile titles that including predatory microtransactions targeting parental wallets – but in 2023, it’s largely managed to shed this reputation. Mobile games are finally being taken seriously, with companies including Apple and Netflix forging paths forward with premium mobile subscription services, and a number of excellent releases from talented developers.

Apple Arcade had a particularly good year in 2023, with a range of excellent mobile games releasing via this service – from Hello Kitty Island Adventure to a unique James Bond / 007 adaptation, and a frankly excellent Disney word game. There was also Aussie rep in this year’s best mobile games, in the form of Gubbins, and a number of other smaller, frankly underrated releases.

In celebration of the year that’s been, here’s the list of GamesHub’s top five mobile games in 2023.

How does GamesHub pick its Game of the Year list?

GamesHub’s Game of the Year picks are selected collectively by tenured staff and regular contributors. Each participant puts together a ranked personal list of their favourite games released in 2023, and titles are given a score according to their rank, with 10 being the highest, and 1 being the lowest. The scores are collated, and the games are ranked by their collective score, with staff members adjusting where necessary before locking in the final list.

Honourable Mentions

cypher 007 mobile game
Image: Tilting Point

To kick off, we have two honourable mentions that didn’t quite make our list of the top five best mobile games in 2023. The first is Cypher 007, a very neat James Bond adaptation that allows you to explore the character’s history in action strategy levels.

Then, we also have Samba de Amigo: Party-To-Go, a highly addictive rhythm game with colourful stages, a toe-tapping beat, and an extremely fun, over-the-top main story mode. Both Samba and Cypher 007 were great inclusions for Apple Arcade this year, and shouldn’t go under the radar.

Meanwhile on Netflix Games, kudos must be given to Netflix for putting out TMNT: Splintered Fate – a cooperative isometric roguelike action game that takes a lot of inspiration from Hades, in the best way possible.

And now, onto our picks for the top five mobile games in 2023.

Hello Kitty Island Adventure

hello kitty island adventure game gift guide
Screenshot: GamesHub

Hello Kitty Island Adventure caught me extremely off-guard in 2023, largely because of the reputation of licensed video games. But I really should have known better than to underestimate this colourful, loveable adventure sim – because after such a strong year, it’s clear the curators at Apple Arcade know what they’re doing in pinching the best mobile exclusives. In short: this game is the definition of delightful. As a custom Sanrio character, you enter a whole new world defined by friendship, as you get to know icons like Hello Kitty, Kuromi, Keroppi, and more.

Read: Hello Kitty Island Adventure review – Reach for the stars

While this game learns a lot from Animal Crossing, it also maintains its own bright sense of identity with cool little platforming puzzles and adventures, an array of bite-sized quests, and friendship levelling mechanics that keep you coming back for more adorable adventures. It’s clear developer Sunblink had a lot of fun with this game, and the team’s passion shines through in every part of it. – Leah J. Williams

Disney SpellStruck

disney spellstruck game
Image: Artist Arcade

Disney SpellStruck, an Apple Arcade-exclusive word game, is joyous. Throughout 2023, I’ve been chipping away at its puzzles, working through a light story that can be summarised in light vs. darkness tropes. Essentially, a purple ooze has started taking over Disney worlds and characters, and it’s your job to restore peace by claiming back stolen letters in Scrabble-like puzzles. In that regard, it’s a bit like Gubbins – but it takes a different approach, with elements of visual storytelling, and each of the retrieved Disney characters playing a part in the action.

The further you travel in the game, the more characters you’ll unlock, and the more abilities you’ll gain. Each hero – Tinkerbell, Buzz Lightyear, and the like – has a specialist ability they can wield, with these powers helping you defeat your enemies, and eventually take back all of Disney’s world. And when you’re done with the main plot, you can also devote time to daily challenges, all of which provide a neat break from your responsibilities. – Leah J. Williams


best mobile games 2023
Image: Orta Therox and Zach Gage

Legendary game designer Zach Gage is known for his “what if <traditional game>, but with a cool/better twist?” school of game design. He’s made great mobile games like Ridiculous Fishing, Knotwords, and SpellTower, but in 2023, he launched an all-new puzzle service that you access via your browser on phone or web. It’s called Puzzmo.

Styled like a newspaper’s ‘games’ section, Puzzmo is the perfect way to get your daily fix of “thoughtful puzzles.” It features a crossword that’s far more accessible and ‘hip’ than the gold standard The New York Times crosswords, as well as free daily iterations of Gage’s previous word games like Typeshift, Spelltower, and Really Bad Chess, which are all guaranteed fun. It’s also home to a new and very satisfying tangram puzzle called Flipart, as well as some of his more experimental games, too. 

And it’s all couched in a slick, responsive interface, some very clever hint systems, and several of the quality-of-life features that Gage has slowly built up over his portfolio – including a streak-saving system, so you don’t feel guilty about missing a day. But I been playing this every day since I got access anyway? Yes. Should you? I think so. – Edmond Tran


gubbins word game australian games
Image: Studio Folly

Every day, I wake up and make sure to do my daily Gubbins – that is, play through a whimsical, psychedelic Scrabble-like word adventure where every turn may bring chaos, thanks to tiny little magical creatures called Gubbins. The concept behind this puzzler is very simple – make words from a bunch of letters – but the game’s design and quirky cast of characters are absolutely standout, and what makes it so compelling.

It’s a brain-tickling game, and one that certainly made a bright impact on my days in 2023. Even in tougher times, it was always a welcome relief – particularly when opening Twitter, and finding countless pals posting their Gubbins, revealing new and creative uses for words like “arse” “finger” and “hole”. Given Gubbins was made by a lovely Australian development team, you can certainly understand the creative uses of language that it continues to inspire every day. – Leah J. Williams

Subpar Pool

best mobile games 2023 subpar pool
Image: grapefrukt games

It’s part golf. It’s part pool. It’s full of little faces and silly gameplay modifiers. It’s Subpar Pool from grapefrukt games, who developed the minimalist strategy game rymdkapsel, and the incredibly tactile Holedown (play them both!)

Who knew that a mobile game could feel so physical? Such satisfying heft! You can practically feel the clack of balls in the real world! With a collection of oddly shaped tables and an emphasis on mixing up the rules every time, every run of Subpar Pool adds new facets that never let you get bored of what you’re doing, and make every ball you sink a fist-pumping moment – especially when that ball was banked off a wall, through a portal, and pulled a couple of other balls into the hole with it, thanks to their gravity fields. Subpar Pool is the perfect game to pull out and play for minutes, or dozens of minutes at a time. – Edmond Tran

Catch up with more of GameHub’s favourite games of 2023, including platform-specific lists and picks from special guests in our Best of 2023 roundup.

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