How to Win Awards for Your Mobile Game (and Why It Can Help Your Business)

Insights & Best Practices

November 1, 2016


min read

Winning an award from an organization like Casual Connect, DevGAMM or the illustrious British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) is a major endorsement for both a mobile game and the devs behind it. And with critical approval comes an opportunity to impact the commercial viability of a mobile game.Before devs jump to find online submission forms, they should be careful to identify the appropriate awards to submit to, understand what judges are looking for and recognize how to properly leverage an award for marketing and advertising purposes.

Submitting a game

Going after a mobile game award requires some research up front. Namely, identifying potential awards and whether or not they might be appropriate for the game in question. The BAFTAs, focus on British talent, while the Independent Gaming Festival (IGF) awards are specific to indies.It's also important to be aware of the submission timeline. Award committees typically announce when submissions open via a press release or social media, so make sure to follow the Twitter accounts of high-profile media and events organizers?such as the International Mobile Gaming Awards (IMGAs)?for alerts about submission opportunities.[caption id="attachment_21226" align="aligncenter" width="1024"]

GDC Independent Games Festival Awards mobile games

Image via GDC[/caption]The requirements for submission vary by award, but devs should pay close attention to what they're responsible for providing, including whether they need to pay to enter. While some, like the Best App Ever Awards, allow free entry, others charge upwards of $50.?The best applications have a good video of gameplay, some good screenshots, and short bulleted paragraphs that break the game down into an elevator pitch," says Alysia Judge, video host at IGN and a judge of the BAFTAs and IMGAs. Instead of dumping ?walls of text explaining backstory and [instructions on] exactly how to play," Judge says it's important for developers to make sure that their submission lets the game do the talking.

Impressing the judges

The award arena is competitive and selective. In fact, only one mobile game won a Game Developers Choice award in 2016, the police procedural game Her Story, which won for its narrative and unique game mechanics. Although the BAFTAs have nominated the likes of Ridiculous Fishing, Device 6 and The Room Two?for awards, only 14 out of 90 nominations for the 2016 BAFTAs went to mobile games. Judge explains that devs should place a particular emphasis on the unique aspects of their mobile game to make it stand out amongst mobile competitors as well as the console and PC crowd.[caption id="attachment_14778" align="aligncenter" width="1600"]

Her Story image

Image via Sam Barlow[/caption]?In general, I look for innovation and how well a developer has crafted within the limitations of a platform," Judge says. "So for mobile, I look for games that use things like the accelerometer, touchscreen and augmented reality, in a way that wouldn't work on any other platform. The more creative they've been the better."New Star Soccer, for example, won a BAFTA for best sports game in 2013 because its simple, one-touch game mechanics stood out from the crowd of complicated sports sims on the shortlist such as FIFA and Forza Motorsport.

Making the most of an award win

The acclaim of awards present a number of mobile game marketing, PR and advertising opportunities for companies. After puzzle game Monument Valley from Ustwo won two awards during its first year?an Apple design award and the Apple iPad game of the year award, the company experienced a brief increase in revenue. While indie studio Tin Man Games, didn't see an enormous lift in sales from its awards for accessibility at the Australian Game Awards and Apple Watch app of the year, founder Neil Rennison believed it helped them in the long run:?What I believe does happen over time is that your brand, be it company name or game name, gets an overall shift upwards in the mindset of the industry, both at a consumer level and business level," he says.[caption id="attachment_21228" align="aligncenter" width="960"]

Tin Man Games Choices And The Sun Went Out

Image via Tin Man Games[/caption]Award victories can be listed at the top of app store descriptions or within screenshots to alert players to the quality of the game within. Award-winning mobile game developers will often be invited to speak at shows to share their success stories.Finally, awards often translates into press and media coverage?both when the award is won and as part of any subsequent announcements. This means that awards act as both a short-term boost to one game and a longer term increase to a company's brand image, making victory well worth pursuing.