For 12 years, the IMGA has been looking for the game that is the most visionary. The game that is showing us a glimpse of future games, the game that is fun, original, and will probably be copied in the years to come. The most important point here is that there has to be an important innovation in the game, a different approach. The innovation can be in the format of the game (Her Story), the style and art (Monument Valley and Badland) or gameplay (The Walking Dead).
In some cases, a competition does not have a clear overall winner. In that case, the jury can decide not to hand out the Grand Prix. This happened at the first IMGA SEA, the first IMGA MENA and the 14th IMGA.
This is the only prize, which is not selected by the jury, but by the players. As soon as the nominations are published, we invite the nominees to mobilize their players, family, friends, colleagues, fans to support them by voting for their game on the IMGA website. The game with most votes wins. Usually, this is the game with the most enthusiastic gamers or best K-factor (Social media activities).
For the IMGA the People’s Choice Award is our link to the players. Therefore it is an important award.
Sometimes the battle between the nominated games for the Public Choice Award can take epic dimensions: the battle between Vainglory and Boom Beach was memorable!
The Jury selects the winner of this category at the end of the judging session, just like the selection of the Grand Prix. Usually, this prize goes to an exceptional game, which is clearly a winner, but not in one of the selected IMGA categories. It is a game that stands out, but not as clear as the Grand Prix.
A very good example is Luxuria Superbia, a game revolving around the female organism. A very interesting and controversial subject visualized in an excellent way. The game stood out but was clearly not beating all other games. Another great example is Threes! a great game, which invented a new mechanism for a number game, which was later copied and improved with a game called 2048
The jury decided to give Threes! the Jury Honorable mention Award and 2048 the Guilty Pleasure award.
Every year the IMGA adds new- or removes the categories that no longer reflect the reality of mobile games today. When we started in 2004 we had a category called "Native games larger than 1MB". There would be no games in that category today. Now, in 2020, we think that the global introduction of 5G will have a significant impact on the games industry in the years to come. For multiplayer games, for VR,AR and XR games, location-based games and for AAA storytelling games and games with a lot of contextual or procedural content. With our jury and experts in the field of 5G we hope to find the first spearheading games that make good use of the new generation of 5G handsets and the 5G networks.
This category has to be seen as an ‘in-progress’ category. Everybody agrees that VR will be a big thing in the years to come and may even deserve its own award. But for the time being, there are not enough VR games to make that happen. At the moment we review all mobile VR games and select the most accomplished and complete VR experience. We try to keep the tech demo’s and unfinished games out and pay more attention to the more elaborate works.
Games should be fun to play. That is the main purpose of a game. But there can be another purpose, such as learning. We used to call these games serious games or educational games, but today these terms are no longer covering the wide variety of games with a secondary purpose: political awareness and calls for action, art games, games for toddlers, ‘games for good’. This category is for all this.
Example: This War of Mine, a game sharing a war experience and raising money for a charity. Paper Please, showing the life of an immigrant at border control. Artistico, the game for art lovers.
Today, many games are multiplayer. More and more big MMO’s are coming to mobile and creating new challenges for this category. Sometimes the multiplayer element is realized solely with a social element, such as Candy Crush, or it can be turn-based such as Clash Royal, or real-time, such as Vainglory and Hearthstone.
For example Agar.io, a game very successful, because of it’s extraordinary simple gameplay, which appealed to everybody. And Soccer Physics a great humorous game, fun to play for two players.
When we started the IMGA in 2004, we had a category called Casual Games. In time, this category became completely obsolete, because every mobile game was basically ‘casual’ by definition. We replaced this category to Quickplay, defined by the simple fact that you can pick up a Quickplay game and play it immediately, without any tutorial or explanation.
Sometimes it is because the tutorial is ‘hidden’ in the first levels, sometimes it is just because of the great intuitive controls.
For example Crossy Road, Colossatron.
When the IMGA started, developers were challenged with the new technical capabilities of the new handsets that were coming out. Those developers who had early access to the specifications of these handsets were a step ahead of the others. Developers with their own tools and the game engine could also have an advantage.
Today the winners of the technical achievement award are usually doing something exceptional on the server-side, such as Vainglory’s multiplayer technology, or Clumsy Ninja with their amazing physics, based on Natural Motion’s proprietary technology.
This category is for all unpublished games, no matter what category they may belong to.
Excellence in Audio
Excellence in Visual Art
Excellence in Design
Excellence in Visual Art & Design
Excellence in Audio , Visual Art &Design
These categories award the games which excel in art, sound, design or music. Or a combination of any of these.
The jury decides which category the choose for specific games.
In 2004 almost all games were played on the buttons of your phone. You would press the buttons with your thumb and your snake, Tetris blocks or car would respond to a specific number. Gradually developers started exploring new ways of controlling games: accelerometers, cameras, microphones, GPS, Bluetooth connected controllers, etc. When touchscreens were massively introduced, different gestures were explored, creating new ways to play games: Angry Birds, Cut the Rope, Fruit Ninja.
Today winners in this category are games such as Hearthstone and Rymdkapsel who are providing a new kind of user experience. Not so much because of the user interface, but the way you progress in the game.
This category awards games who try something original, which we haven’t see before. In the early days, we awarded the first experiments with Location Based Games and the first attempts to make AR games. Today we are looking at anything innovative, such as a new way to learn how to dance: Bounden a completely new way to play a game, such as Her Story who also won the Grand Prix.
Interactive storytelling is becoming mainstream in mobile games, with more and more TV series coming to mobile platforms, such as the Walking Dead. There are also Point-and-click adventure games and games who are almost like interactive documentaries. All games who are exploring the areas where games, TV, and Cinema meet, belong in this category. Republique and 80 Days are both wonderful interactive experiences, with a lot of puzzle elements. The Walking Dead is clearly much closer to a movie or TV experience, whereby the player connects different sequences of the story together by making choices.
There are games you are playing and you tell your friends how great they are. And there is this one game you can’t stop playing, but basically, you feel a bit ashamed you are playing it that much. That is a guilty pleasure game.
Another great example is 2048, which is basically a copy of Threes!
Threes! invented a new mechanism for a number game and 2048 copied and improved it.
The jury decided to give Threes! the Jury Honorable mention Award and 2048 the Guilty Pleasure Award. And this is how the Guilty Pleasure Category was born.
Best port to mobile
In 2018 the jury saw that porting a console or PC title to mobile was sometimes very, very badly done and in some rare occasions brilliantly crafted! Hence the new category “Best Port to Mobile. The first winner in this category was The Witness.
Game artist of the year
Since the 13th edition of the IMGA, the category of Game Artist has been given to Dawn of Titans from Ben Brudenell of Natural Motion, and to the studio Broken Rules with the game Old Man's Journey, honoring excellent game artists behind games.