If you have been surfing the web long enough, you probably played online mafia games at some point in your life.

In this article, you will find:

Five armed mobsters in black suits walking on the street

History of Online Mafia Games

There’s always something mysterious yet interesting about the world of the Mafia.

Most of us know about that world mainly comes from the media. The news tells us about the gruesome things that they did, and yet the movies can somehow make that life look so alluring and fascinating. 

Needless to say, most of us regular folks don’t really want to actually live that life. We know that even if it looks so captivating on the screen, the reality will be incredibly frightening. It ends up creating an odd predicament of being interested in the dangerous life of the mafia and yet doesn’t actually want to be involved with them in real life. 

Fortunately, there is a way for us to try the romanticized version of that life, the ideal version, if you will, without actually plunging ourselves into the world of organized crime. Mafia games!

Before getting into that, here’s a brief history of how we went from the Sicilian Mafia in the 19th century, to the online Mafia game craze in the 21st century. 

The Rise of Real-Life Mafia

The organized crime called the Mafia as we know it today stems mainly from the Sicilian Mafia. They used to refer to themselves as the Cosa Nostra, and they were most active in the 19th century. At the time, the Sicilian Mafia themselves was actually a collection of loosely connected groups of criminals who operate in Sicilia, each with their own territory. 

Following the massive wave of emigration at the latter end of the 20th Century, most of the members of the Sicilian Mafia came to the United States and began replicating their operation on this new soil. In the span of a generation, the Mafia bloomed into a massive organization with different families controlling different territories all across the US. 

At its height, the Mafia was involved in all kinds of criminal activity, from gambling, drug trafficking, prostitution, loan-sharking, and fraud. They enforced their rules with an iron fist and left trails of blood wherever they went. 

Through the joint efforts of the FBI and other local authorities, especially the introduction of the RICO act, the US government was finally able to suppress the Mafia to the brink of extinction. Nowadays, the Mafia is still alive and well, but they no longer operate at the same scale as they once were. 

The Adaptation into the Popular Culture

To feel intrigued by something that we don’t understand is normal. And the world of the Mafia, which is filled with mystery, and secrecy, has that puzzling allure to it. We want to know more about these individuals who always dress in nice suits, and spend money like there’s no tomorrow. 

So begins the era of Mafia movies in Hollywood. One by one, various Hollywood studios and renowned actors and directors began to produce Mafia flicks. There were tons of Mafia movies created at the time, but the one that catapulted this niche genre into the stratosphere is, without a doubt, the 1972 movie, “The Godfather.” 

Marlon Brando in the Godfather
(Image credit: ABC News)

This adaptation of Mario Puzo’s popular novel received praise from both critics and moviegoers alike and won countless awards. The Godfather ended up becoming a trilogy, with the second movie released in 1974, and the third one in 1990. 

There are also other critically acclaimed movies built on top of the popularity of The Godfather. Some are based on a real-life figure, such as 1983’s “Scarface,” while others revolve around the life of the Mafia in general, such as the 1990s “Goodfellas.” These are some of the best movies ever made, and at this point, the story of the Mafia had officially penetrated pop culture. 

The PC/Console Mafia Games

The interest surrounding Mafia movies began to fizzle out by the end of the 1990s and the beginning of the 2000s. There were still some gems on the small screen, such as The Sopranos, but for the most part, people seem to have been moving on from this niche genre. 

Five characters from HBO's Sopranos standing in a cemetery
(Image credit: HBO)

At relatively the same period of time, video games took on the story of the Mafia. The 2000s saw an increase in games that revolved around the Mafia’s life, especially on PC and consoles like Playstation and Xbox. 

Most of the games at this period were open-world games where you controlled low-level mobsters as you tried to go on missions in order to level up and become the boss. Some of the most popular ones were “Grand Theft Auto” and the aptly named “Mafia.” Both games ended up becoming some of the biggest video game series in the world and spawned numerous sequels. 

Other games focused on the right side of the law, such as a game called “L.A. Noire.” There were also games that explored the life of organized crime syndicates from other countries, such as in Japan through the “Yakuza” series, or through a game called “Sleeping Dogs” that focused on the Chinese Triads. At this point, it was clear that Mafia/Gangsters games were here to stay. 

The Beginning of the Internet and Smartphone Era

The next step into the life of the Mafia game comes around the 2010s. The Internet was already everywhere at the time, and the overwhelming majority of people from all kinds of demographics used the internet as a source of their entertainment, to do their work, and also to learn new stuff. 

Needless to say, the gaming industry also wished to get into this ever-growing field. As a result, more and more games had online and social features built into the game.

Apart from that, there was also another technological advancement happening around the same time, the smartphone. Just like the internet, most people had a smartphone in their pocket at the time. So the next logical step after this would certainly be online mobile games. 

What Is an Online Mafia Game

As the name suggests, an online mafia game is an online game that revolves around the life of a mafia. At first, these games garnered popularity through PC and console games, such as the Mafia series and the Grand Theft Auto series. 

But as the years went by and more and more people had high-powered smartphones in their pockets, these niche games began to pop up one after the other in the mobile space.

If you look for “mafia games” in both Google Play Store and Apple App Store, you will see tons of games on the result page. 

The fight screen of an online mafia game

As Android and iOS became the overwhelming majority of operating systems for smartphones around the world, countless online games have been developed to meet the demand of the ever-growing users. One of the games that received this online treatment is none other than Mafia games. 

Since the beginning of the 2010s, there have been several notable online mobile mafia games that have steadily gained more players every month. Some are free to play, such as “Mob Wars: La Cosa Nostra,” while others are paid games, such as the mobile adaptation of the early “Grand Theft Auto (GTA)” games. 

But what’s interesting about these online mobile mafia games are the different types of games that you can experience. The aforementioned GTA is a third-person open-world game, while Mob Wars is mainly a text-based RPG game where you get to decide the trajectory of your main character’s career within the Mafia family. 

3 mafia characters of a mobster game

Why People Play Online Mafia Games

Unlike other forms of entertainment, such as film or books, video games are interactive entertainment that requires the participant to not simply sit back and enjoy the show but rather be a part of the show themselves. 

That is why video games have the power to let you be whoever you want to be. You can be a soldier in the middle of a bloody war through First-Person-Shooter (FPS) games or a combat mage through Role-Playing-Game (RPG) games. 

List of different missions in the online mafia game Mob Wars
(Image credit: Mob Wars La Cosa Nostra)

But out of every other game that you can play, why should you play an online mafia game?

There are three main answers to these questions. The first and obvious one is to experience the life of a mafia. We can’t become a real-life mafia, nor do we actually want to, but it doesn’t change the fact that it is such a fascinating world. Behind all of its glitz and violence, there is something alluring and mystifying about this way of life. And video games are one of the safest yet most immersive ways to experience it. 

The second reason is that there is genuinely something that you can learn from a mafia game. Sure, it has its fair share of guns blazing and fist fighting, but most mafia games will also teach you about business and critical thinking. 

Most Mafia games will have a feature where the players have to buy or sell properties, manage different kinds of businesses, hire people, manage limited resources, etc. This is the kind of knowledge that can be useful in our everyday life. Sure, it may not reflect the true nature of a business in the real world, but the business is still based on the same principle as its real-life counterpart. 

The last reason is the social part of the game. An online game enables players to meet new people and make friends.

Types of Online Mafia Games

There are different types of online mafia games, especially within the mobile gaming sphere. But most mafia games can be put into five categories. These categories are action games, shooter games, Role Playing Games (RPG), Real-Time Strategy (RTS) games, and Simulation games.

Four characters from the Godfather movie standing in front of a car

1. Action Games 

Action games are the first ones that come to mind when we talk about Mafia games. After all, Mafia activities include going to different places, engaging in gunfights, and some street brawls. All of which can be perfectly represented by a proper fast-paced open-world action game. 

In this type of game, you are usually controlling a new mobster and trying to get him up the food chain and all the way to becoming the Mafia Boss. Some of the best mobile games in this genre are the iconic Grand Theft Auto Series from Rockstar, and Gangstar Vegas: World of Crime by Gameloft. 

2. Shooter Games

As the name suggests, this is a game where your main objective is to shoot different targets.

There’s really not much difference between one shooter game and the next. The difference mainly lies in the context of the story. In war-themed games, you play as a soldier who shoots the bad guys, while in Mafia-themed games, you play as a Mafia hitman who shoots members of other Mafia families.

3. Role-Playing Games (RPGs)

As the name suggests, Role Playing Games (RPG) is a game where you play a character from a certain role. In fantasy games, you can play as a knight or a wizard, while in Mafia games, you play as a member of a Mafia family.

RPG games usually have a smaller scope than open-world action games, but RPGs often have much more details, activities, and objectives that you can enjoy. 

In RPG mafia games, you usually need to think long-term. You need to consider the business side of things, along with other details such as the reputation and influence of your character. If you’re interested in mobile RPG Mafia games, you should consider playing Mob Wars: La Cosa Nostra.

RPG game Mob Wars LCN

4. Simulation Games

Unlike other types of games in this list, simulation games require you to pull back and look at everything from a broader perspective. Because in these types of games, you usually have to focus on building your empire as a whole, rather than trying to turn your character into a Mafia boss. 

For Mafia games, the most common simulation games are city building and business tycoon games. In city building, the main objective is for you to buy and build buildings in order to increase your income. In business tycoons, the main objective is to gain money through various business establishments, such as clubs, casinos, etc.

5. Strategy Games

In Mafia-themed strategy games, you still need to think about your wealth, just like in Tycoon games. However, you also need to be prepared for any attack from neighboring competitors, or you can also be the one who initiates the attack on other Mafia families if you want.

How to Play Online Mafia Games

Martin Scorsese's The Irishman
(Image credit: Vanity Fair)

If you’re interested in exploring the vast world of online mobile mafia games, then there’s really not much that you need to prepare. You may already have the most important components right there in your pocket. Because if you want to play an online mobile mafia game, what you need is just a decent smartphone and a decent internet connection. 

So what does a decent smartphone actually mean? What sort of smartphone is suitable for playing online mafia games?

Well, the answer mostly depends on what type of mafia games you intend to play. For most games out there, any new phone from the last three years should be sufficient. However, if you want to play some open-world action mafia games, such as GTA or Gangstar Vegas, getting a recent mid to high-end smartphone would be the best option. 

Grand Theft Auto Vice City
(Image credit: The Verge)

When you choose a mafia game to play just remember to get something with at least 4 stars rating. And don’t forget to read the reviews to see any potential issues with the game. Once you download and install it, the tutorial will guide you through everything that you need to know.

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