There's a pretty significant difference between the game experience on a mobile device and a home game consule like, for example, an Xbox One or Playstation 4. There's a reason we shell out the big bucks for systems that bring the game to life, rather than play it on a two-inch screen (and why home console games are far more expensive than a mobile app's $1.99 price tag). Having said all that, when wading through a sea of possible purchases in the App Store, most mobile games are complete and utter trash. What gives?
Our friends at Gameranx wonder the same and tackled this question in a new video, linked above. One part of this answer? Mobile games are a relatively new phenomenon. "Mobile games feel like they've been around forever, but really it was just last decade when they started," they point out. "And yes, you could say that handheld games have been around for a very long time, but mobile is not handheld. It's a different market, a different type of game, and it asks a different question." The difference is whether you're talking about a portable gaming device, or whether you'd simply like to play games on your phone—those are two very different things.
But the real answer to this question is a little more sinister than the difference between a phone and a handheld gaming device—it's one that app developers rely on to turn their profits, and that's addiction. By creating a game that in essence can hook you in and get you to spend hundreds of dollars in micro-transactions and in-app purchases (hi, North West), we're effectively giving these bottom-of-the-barrel game developers precisely what they want. There's an algorithm to this, and it's working (especially on non-seasoned gamers). And that is why so many mobile games seem like the same recycled garbage. As Gameranx points out, "They're a game built around a business model, not a business model built around a game."
They break down how this looks from a consumer prospective in their video, and there's a ton of really interesting information about the psychology of game addiction packed into that conversation. Peep it above, and remember: those little in-app purchases add up.