148Apps Game of the Year 2023

It’s that time of year again! Join us as we highlight some of the best mobile games of this past year.

Before diving into picks and talking about games, I just need to say that 2023 felt like a real turning point for gaming on iOS, and not in a good way. This year, I played what feels like fewer mobile games than ever, and I chalk quite a bit up to what the reality of mobile gaming is now, which–with a few exceptions–looks a lot like “run with a subscription model or die.”

More than ever, the App Store looks like the nightmare marketplace everyone previously (and somewhat prematurely) made it out to be. There’s a small sliver of games that are actually worth your time and attention, and many of those are now just solid but unexciting safe bets, many of which you are asked to pay for on a recurring basis to have access to.

This is the headspace I’m in heading in to these awards, so it feels less like the celebration of mobile gaming that it should be. Still, though there are things I played that I think other people should also check out. So, with that, the awards will roll in piecemeal across this week and wrap up just before we turn over to 2024. See below for the honorifics:

The Categories

For each of these categories, I’ll choose a winner and mention some notable runner-ups. Any game nominated or chosen for any of these cateories is then eligible for the final category, Best Game, which is the culminating category where I will construct a ranked list of my favorite games from this year.

Best Old Game


I’m honestly not sure how this 2021 deckbuilding roguelite got past me. Until news came out this year that a new sizeable expansion was coming to Dawncaster, I had not even heard of it. I’m glad I do now, though. This was easily one of my most played games this year.

A big reason for my repeated play is definitely just how easy and snappy the game is to play. I am not sure I can think of another game that plays more easily in portrait mode while also feeling deep and satisfying like Dawncaster does. The expansion that came out this year helped put this game over the top to win this category, though, as it nearly doubles the card library, adds new enemies and areas, and gives every run a thrilling feeling of uncertainty.

Runner ups: Genshin Impact, League of Legends: Wild Rift, Vampire Survivors

Best Portrait Mode Game

Geo Gods

A game being in portrait mode is sometimes the determining factor of whether I’ll keep putting time into it, and the fact that Geo Gods offered up such a beautiful and fun score challenge in this orientation meant that I kept returning to it and finding myself enjoying it over a large portion of the year.

This game is hard to describe, but in a nutshell it is like a completely reimagined game of Solitaire. You go through a deck comprised of gods and try to place them strategically in a play area so that they interact with each other, trigger bonuses, and (ideally) net you a high score. It’s a bit of a departure from other games that Arnold Rauers has made over the years, but it is certainly a welcome one.

Runner ups: Coffee Golf, Madness/Endless, Luck Be A Landlord

Come back later this week for the remaining catergories!