The west might have its Oscars, but here in Japan, we have awards ceremonies for mobile games and apps. Which one has more worth I’ll leave up to you, but mobile developers and analysts App Ape hosted their annual App Ape Awards at a lavish Tokyo venue last Friday. Alongside the awards show, a whole host of industry experts and professionals gave talks, reflecting on the year behind them.
In terms of the awards, the winners for each category have been selected by App Ape on two conditions. Firstly, if the game or app was released in that year (2018) and overcame a certain user threshold. But apps released prior can also pick up the awards if they have seen significant growth in the past year, which was the case this time around.
App of the year went to TikTok, which could definitely also pick up the title of the most controversial app last year. The most popular app, though, went to Fuji On Demand – the streaming service for satellite broadcaster Fuji TV. I’m not sure anyone has any strong opinions about that one.
What was interesting though, were the mobile games that picked up awards this year – neither of which were actually released in 2018. First up, we have the behemoth that is Fate/Grand Order picking up Game of the Year. Obviously, the game was originally released in 2016, so this decision may raise some eyebrows. But let’s not forget that 2018 was the year in which the game became the number one bestselling mobile game of all time.
Furthermore, the increasing involvement of Fate series creator Kinoko Nasu has seen the game go from strength to strength in terms of its story. This has no doubt also seen a reflection in a higher user count this year than last year – ultimately meaning that it picked up the prize.
On the other hand, we have the winner for Most Popular Game of the Year. This year saw the prize go to The iDOLM@STER Million Live! Theater Days for the second year running since it’s initial release in 2017. This title is the newest entry in the long-running iDOLM@STER series of games and has seen significant growth in the past couple of years. Summer 2018 even saw the title take over Akihabara for its 1st anniversary celebrations, which just goes to show just how popular it is.
The domination of these two titles both released prior to 2018 during this year’s awards is interesting. It shows that no serious competitor has been able to flex it’s muscles this year, leaving the industry in the hands of these two veterans. In fact, I’d argue that the only real newcomer to the scene last year was the mobile version of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, which has significant enough uptake in Japan to warrant collaboration with Resident Evil.
But I’m fully expecting something to come and along and take the scene by storm this year. Given the continuing growth of mobile gaming in Japan, I have no doubt that such a thing is possible – which just gets me all the more excited for the year ahead.