The Games Media Awards 2018 was held this week and one of the categories was ‘Best Mobile Game’. The nominees were: Donut County, Florence, Fortnite, PUBG Mobile, and Reigns: Game of Thrones.
We can’t fault those nominees at all. Fortnite and PUBG are two of the world’s biggest video games right now and their mobile versions are solid. To not have them in the list would be criminal.
Alongside them are Florence and Donut County – two indie hits that take advantage of the excellent platform in completely unique ways. Reigns: Game of Thrones rounds things up, perfecting the excellent Tinder-like experience by adding a dash of one of the biggest TV shows ever.
The excellent Florence took home the top spot
The winner was Florence, which describes itself as an ‘interactive story about love and life’. You play as the eponymous young female protagonist who experiences love, heartbreak, grief, and passion for her life.
All of this plays out in beautifully hand drawn vignettes that depict key moments in Florence’s life. The ‘gameplay’ involves solving puzzles, organising objects, and swiping stuff around to perform a variety of mundane, and touching, actions.
There’s no question that Florence is an emotive, innovative, and unique experience that blurs the lines between a graphic novel and video game. What we’re here to question though, is whether or not it deserves to win ‘Best Mobile Game’ at The Game Awards 2018.
Was the criteria for Best Mobile Game sound?
The criteria for the category is:
For the best game playable on a dedicated mobile device.
That’s good wording. Not only does it rule out hybrid devices like Nintendo’s Switch, it also justifies the inclusion of the likes of Fortnite and PUBG. They weren’t looking for the best mobile game exclusive then, but simply the best video game that launched on a dedicated mobile device this year.
Our criteria for a solid mobile game is that it takes advantage of the unique platform. We prefer games that provide innovative touchscreen controls and gameplay instead of console ports with a thousand virtual buttons on screen.
And we’re a bit disappointed that The Game Awards didn’t make that a clear part of the criteria. Sure, Fortnite and PUBG might have been excluded, but it doesn’t do our platform any favours to simply have ports of the two biggest games as part of the top five.
Should PUBG Mobile and Fortnite have been contenders?
Don’t get us wrong – we love both PUBG Mobile and Fortnite, and think that they’ve both done an excellent job of squeezing the experiences onto the smaller screen. We just much prefer the likes of Donut County and Florence. These games really do feel like they’re built for the platform and play much better as a result.
And we want core console gamers to understand that. Mobile has a reputation for being full of crappy free to play gacha hero collectors for a reason. Sure, it has got an awful lot of them – too many, in fact – but it also has some of the most innovative, imaginative, and brilliant games going.
So when we see a list of the ‘Best Mobile Games’ we want to see that reflected. We want people to look at the list and feel compelled to download the games. If people play the likes of Florence and Donut County instead of Marvel gacha games, they might start to see the potential our platform offers.
Despite our criticisms, the right game won out in the end
Despite the fact The Games Awards overlooked this crucial aspect, the right game won though. Florence is the very definition of a fantastic mobile game and it was executed with extraordinary aplomb.
It’s a visual spectacle, despite being incredibly minimal, and we challenge you not to cry once during your play through. It’s a game that will sucker punch you in the nerve.
Not only that but the ‘gameplay’ is unlike anything we’ve seen before. It takes advantage of the touchscreen to provide what is, effectively, a few minigames. But they’re not just minigames. They’re more like mini messages. The developers are trying to communicate the complex emotions that follow us through life in a video game format.
And they achieved it with surprising ease. That’s why we think that Florence thoroughly deserved to win ‘Best Mobile Game’. It’s not a case of whether the best game won or not – because it did. It’s more a case that next year, we want them to ask the right question.
If you haven’t played Florence yet, go and grab it from Google Play right now.