Apple has unveiled its list of 2013’s top apps, with free-to-play games Minecraft: Pocket Edition and Candy Crush Saga coming in as clear winners, topping several charts.
Minecraft, the PS3 version of which will be released later this week, was rated the top seller on the UK app store while Candy Crush Saga, a match-three puzzle game, was the highest grossing app.
Other high scorers included the photo messaging platform Snapchat as the second most popular free app, and 4 Pics 1 Word as the fourth most popular in a chart dominated by mobile games.
Developer King’s Candy Crush Saga, which has been downloaded more than 500 million times by mobile users, boasts over 400 levels of varying difficulties where players match up three sweets or treats of the same design or colour, with big rewards for combos and high scores. Though free to download, players can make in-app purchases of game power-ups as well as linking their game to Facebook to help out their friends with difficult levels.
“Most new mobile developers have embraced free-to-play pretty quickly, and for us coming from Facebook to mobile, part of the experience was always free-to-play,” Candy Crush Saga developer Sebastien Knutsson told the Guardian in a recent interview.
Minecraft began life as a sandbox indie game for the PC developed by Swedish programmer Markus “Notch” Persson and became a runaway success with more than 33 million sales. A first-person puzzler with retro pixelated graphics, Minecraft is similar to Lego in its concept with players using an array of tools to build a fantasy landscape out of multi-coloured blocks. The premise: to build forts and castles with limited resources and protect yourself with them against ghoulish night-time raiders.
“Infinite power just isn’t very interesting; no matter what game you’re playing. It’s much more fun when you have a limited tool set to use against the odds. Usually, a new player to Minecraft doesn’t make it through the first night. They’re just not prepared for the danger. It’s a harsh lesson but it establishes the rules,” Persson said in an interview with The New Yorker.
Other high-scoring apps included Temple Run 2, an infinite running game in which characters guide an Indiana Jones-like character across a never-ending path of traps, pits and obstacles and mobile version of British tea-time quiz show The Chase.
In the latter videogame players test their wits against the show’s “famous four” opponents, answering questions to keep ahead of 'The Chaser' - a former quiz-master creeping closer and closer with each incorrect answer. Though quiz champions receive no prize money for their victory, it has proved a smash hit with mobile gamers seeking their fix of brainteasers on the go.
Other top apps included a mobile port of crime simulator Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, at sixth place on the top paid iPad apps chart, as well as the game tie-in of Pixar’s Wreck It Ralph. Avian-slinging sensation Angry Birds scored highly across all of Apple mobile platforms.
Read Apple's list in full here.