Updated March 29, 2021: New entries
There was a time when you couldn't move for autorunners on the App Store. These compact arcade action games distilled the essence of the platformer and racing game genres, and stirred in an endless high score-chasing mechanic.
While the market is no longer saturated with auto-runners these days, they still get released quite frequently. Aside from maybe the match-three puzzler, we'd say that the autorunner is the most enduringly popular genre in all of smartphone gaming.
Why is that? The genre's suitability for mobile play is one huge factor. Often only taking a few minutes and a single screen input (albeit tapped multiple times) to play a round, a good autorunner offers the perfect between-stops gaming experience.
And also, there's a fair amount of room for free-styling on top of this basic template. There are 3D autorunners, 2D autorunners, racing autorunners, roguelike autorunners, shooter autorunners, RPG autorunners - the list goes on.
Hopefully we've reflected some of this diversity in the following list.
You might be wondering why we no longer refer to this as the 'endless runner' genre, as we often used to. The reason for that is simple: some of these games have a definite end, and don't merely require you to keep going until you drop.