Today's best mobile sports games combine advanced graphics with simple touch-based controls, making it easy for you to pick up your phone or tablet and jump into the action. Whatever type of sport gets you going, there's likely a great game to match it on iOS and Android devices.
Whether you like getting into the middle of the rough and tumble of big league sports or prefer to manage teams and tactics, there's going to be something for you to sink your teeth into in this list of some of our favorite mobile sports games for Android and iOS.
NBA 2K16 delivers a first-rate mobile basketball game, with slick graphics and a variety of game modes to keep you tapping. Unlike the previous iteration, the mobile version of NBA 2K16 comes with all of its game modes available right off the bat, with Season play for those looking for an extended campaign, MYCAREER for those looking to grow their unique player, and Blacktop mode for a quicker, pick-up game style of play. Graphical and gameplay improvements, Euroleague teams, and expanded device support round out the new additions to this premium basketball app.
NHL 2K (Android, iOS) ($7.99)
It's been a while since 2K's last mobile hockey game (NHL 2K11), so a new version is welcome. Like NBA 2K15, NHL 2K provides a solid Career mode for gamers to create their own rookie hockey player to guide through the ranks to sports stardom. In addition to the Career mode, NHL 2K includes a Mini-Rink mode for fast-paced 3-on-3 games, as well as a simple turn-based shootout mode. As with NBA 2K15, the lack of a full Season mode is a bit disappointing, but NHL 2K is still an enjoyable mobile hockey experience.
Madden NFL Mobile (Android, iOS) (Free)
An interesting mix of hardcore sim and free-to-play fun, Madden NFL Mobile combines the franchise's hardnosed American football action and tactical play with a digital trading card system for improving your team lineup. The game features slick graphics, as well as technical gameplay that rewards smart playbook choices and sound tactics in the field. Madden NFL Mobile also offers league and season modes, live events and challenges to spice things up, and a marketplace and auction house for purchasing booster packs or extra players to upgrade your team.
MLB Perfect Inning (Android, iOS) (Free)
While Gamevil's earlier Baseball Superstars games featured an anime-RPG aesthetic, the licensed MLB Perfect Inning offers more realistic sports sim gameplay along with its free-to-play card collecting system. Perfect Inning provides players with numerous game modes, from a full-on AI-controlled simulation, to an an offense-only mode to taking full control of your team's pitching and batting. As players progress, they earn points which can be spent to buy new players or upgrade their existing lineup (all of which can also be done with real cash).
The World Golf Tour's mobile game delivers a great free to play golf experience, featuring faithful recreations of some of the world's most storied courses. Players can engage in full 18-hole stroke play games or more faster paced modes such as 9-hole closest to the hole or hole-in-one challenges in both single and multiplayer. The game is free to play, so expect ads and in-app purchases for 'branded' high quality in-game gear from the likes of Callaway and TaylorMade.
Table Tennis Touch is a fast-paced, gesture-driven mobile game that will have you smashing ping pong balls across the table in no time. A fast, responsive control scheme allows players to deliver precise shots and spin moves, with a selection of bats affecting performance. Players can duke it out against AI or human opponents in slickly rendered tables and environments, engaging in quick match play, tournaments, or a career mode. Arcade challenges provide additional spice, testing player accuracy and control in a variety of minigames.
Real Racing 3 (Android, iOS) (Free)
Real Racing 3 may have had a rocky start when it received criticism for moving to free-to-play, but that doesn't eclipse the fact that it's a gorgeous racing game that offers a fantastic driving experience. Real Racing 3 allows users to take the wheel of a host of real world cars, and take them on a spin across gorgeously rendered real-world racetracks. Numerous game modes, from time trials, straight up races and the unique Time Shift multiplayer mode offer varied challenges to players, with updates continuously adding new content such as cars, courses and events.
EA's hit soccer game gets its annual refresh in FIFA 16: Ultimate Team, challenging players to build their dream team of the world's best soccer superstars. Focusing on the Ultimate Team mode, players start with a limited stable of players, and then earn points by playing matches, which allow you to earn, collect and trade towards better and better players, with the official FIFA licensing bringing more than 10,000 players from more than 500 teams to collect. This latest iteration de-emphasizes the gesture controls that have been hit and miss among players for a more traditional virtual button layout, while also introducing player goal animations.
For a more strategic view of "the beautiful game", check out SEGA's long-running Football Manager series, a game that puts you in the manager's chair of your favorite football clubs. A fantastically detailed sports simulator that prizes accuracy over flashiness, Football Manager Mobile's dry, menu-driven interface and gameplay isn't exactly spectacular, but for a stat junkie that loves all the nitty-gritty details of transfers, lineups and tactics, FMM 2016 is almost unrivaled, except by our next entry.
Football Manager Touch 2016 delivers a more detailed simulation experience, and a correspondingly premium price. A step up from the Mobile version, Football Manager Touch includes a more detailed match simulation engine, including 3D match playbacks, more detailed tactical controls, and a Create-a-Club mode for your own custom football team. Perhaps the most interesting addition is cross-platform compatibility and cloud saves that allow you to bring your Football Manager Touch games between Android, iOS, PC, Mac and Linux versions of the game.