2012 in review: The PocketGamer.biz Offbeat Awards

Best beef, best beard, and best...clone?

2012 in review: The PocketGamer.biz Offbeat Awards
We can all wax lyrical about the most significant games of 2012, the biggest stories and the interviews that set tongues wagging – as, indeed, we have – but there are actually far more important issues to discuss.

In reality, a summary of 2012 wouldn't be fit without taking a look at key topics, such as the industry's most hirsute stars, who is the most prevalent cloner, and at just what events you can sample the most choice cuts of beef at.

So here - in our last round up of the year that was 2012 – is a look at some of the more offbeat 'winners' of 2012, including some names you may well recognise, and some unlikely to send us a Christmas card ever again.

10. Best beard

Included at the behest of editor Keith Andrew – major tantrums were on the cards – attempting to pick the best beard in an industry littered with facial hair of all types, styles and (to be perfectly frank) abilities is no easy task.

There are three that come to mind, however. Though not strictly in the mobile scene, former PocketGamer.biz man and freelance journalist extraordinare Dan Griliopoulous has enough thick facial fur to knit a full-sized replica of himself, made entirely out of his man fluff. When we suggested he do as such, for some reason he stopped returning our calls.

Also worth an honourary mention is Chillingo's PR manager for the EMEA region Dan Tausney, who funnels his Gaelic roots – he's from Scotland, you know – into fashioning the kind of beard that would put Mel Gibson to shame in a matter of minutes.

But, top of the mutton chops this year is Boss Alien's Jason Avent.

His beard isn't the biggest or the thickest. Indeed, it's an intentionally well groomed, restricted 'power beard' – a beard of refinement, vision and experience. A cleverer bunch than us may be able to tenuously link that to the success he's enjoyed with CSR Racing, but that's beyond us right now.
WINNER: Jason Avent (beard pictured above)

9. Best food (at conference)

This award requires a disclaimer: PocketGamer.biz eats at events. In fact, despite the furore surrounding Doritosgate, it's fair to say we eat quite heartily.

Sampling such succulence on a regular basis, however, doesn't make choosing an outright winner in this category an easy task.

If anything, in fact, it's a case of so much food and so little time – trying to cram every nugget of nourishment we'd stuffed down our throats would make this page as bulging as our collective stomachs.

Of note was anything organised by Tandem – Develop et al always manages to offer a startling amount of variety, as well as some choice cuts of meat (for those into that sort of thing). The firm's two F2P Summits in Shoreditch came packed with some choice potato salad and quiche, which are two top morsels to have on your menu if you're looking to impress editor Keith Andrew.

And despite its problems during 2012, the tables at RIM's various events such as BlackBerry Jam Europe and BlackBerry World in the US provided sophisticated options.

Also worth a mention is the Mobile Games Forum, held all the way back in January in London. Once again, some choice cuts of meat were on offer – beef and chicken of note – but MGF gains extra points for allowing people to eat at a table in the conference rooms themselves.

Indeed, it gave the whole affair a nice weddingy feel that resulted in a fair few attendees getting together before the two day event was out. (It didn't.)

But, top of the pile is this year's Unite conference in Amsterdam, which – as well as featuring glorious coffee on tap via several handy Nespresso machines (editor Keith Andrew playing the role of George Clooney), Unite also served up noodles.

Delicious noodles, en masse, in some kind of tasty sauce with some tasty meat. We were probably told what part of the world said dish originated from, but we were too busy dropping it down our throats to notice.
WINNER: Unite 2012

8. Top tweeter

Who in this industry isn't on Twitter? Yet, despite the prevelance of social networks in the modern age of games development, lets be honest, a lot of us are rubbish at it.

Doing nothing but talking about your game (with an abundance of exclamation marks, making every tweet sound impossibly orgasmic) is hardly the most subtle approach, and is unlikely to attract all too many followers.

Likewise, that blurry Instagramed shot of your cat doing something funny may have seemed like a good idea at the time, but it did little for your social standing.

The best people are those who treat platforms such as Twitter as they're designed to be treated: with very little thought, and a dose of honesty. Those with the most followers are usually those who post whatever is in their head at the time, rather than what they think people want to hear.

Eternally good tweeters include the likes of former Mobile Pie man Will Luton (@will_luton) – who is pretty much friends with everyone on Twitter by now – while MAQL Europe CEO Harry Holmwood (@Hholmwood) wins points recently for tolerating editor Keith Andrew's awful jokes.

Meanwhile ngmoco's man in Sweden Ben Cousins (@BenjaminCousins) is always ready with a provocative statement.

But, top of the pile is PopCap's Giordano Contestabile (@giordanobc), both for having an awesome name, and also for maintaining the tricky balance of being professional on Twitter without losing a sense of personality.

You're just as likely to click on a link to an interesting article following Giordano's feed as you are see something that'll make you giggle.

Fellow tweeters: you can learn a lot from Giordano Contestabile.
WINNER: Giordano Contestabile

7. Award for biggest mouth, no trousers

In February 2012, when we spoke to RIM's head of gaming Anders Jeppsson, BlackBerry 10 was still scheduled to launch in Autumn. "We're going to be selling millions of devices very quickly, so developers should be ready for the opportunity," said Jeppsson excitedly.

And then BlackBerry 10 failed to materialise. But despite this slip, RIM was by no means the worst offender of overhype this year.

For instance, HTML5 evangelists once again promised much and delivered little in 2012. Thanks to a host of practical considerations, a credible HTML5 challenger to the app stores remains conspicuously absent - as demonstrated by Wooga amongst others - despite the promises of an open, cross-platform future.

But the 2012 winner of the most hype for least outcome award has to be Apple. The company's sometimes a victim of its own success, really, and the level of anticipation surrounding its hardware unveilings is unreal.

This year, the rabid hordes were left disappointed. An uninteresting iPad update appeared just seven months after the previous model launched (fixing its problems), the iPad Mini was surprise-free, and the iPhone 5 was simultaneously the most radical iPhone-overhaul to date, and a predictable, conservative refresh.

No wonder its share price has been under pressure for the past six months.

6. Best pivot

2012 will go down in the annals of history of the Year of the Pivot. Companies were just pivoting all over the place, making 2012 a pivotal year for pivots.

There was a preponderance of pivoting from social to mobile this year, for instance, with companies such as Zynga, Kabam, Wooga and King.com all looking to make more of mobile.

Papaya also pivoted this year, branching out from its social networking roots into mobile cross-promotion with its Android network AppFlood.

But the winner of the PocketGamer.biz best pivot award goes to Microsoft, for the Surface kickstand.

Some may argue that it's a hinge rather than a pivot, but it just feels so darn satisfying to use. Unlike the touchpad cover…
WINNER: Microsoft Surface

5. Shameless clone award

Success breeds imitation, and this was particularly true on the app stores in 2012.

An alleged clone even walked away with the Samsung Smart App Challenge grand prize this year, a contest designed to "support for the development of innovative apps."

But while we've all come to expect shameless clones along the lines of Slice the Rope, Angry Pigs and Temple Gun, 2012 seems to be the year that cloning went mainstream.

Zynga's repeatedly been on the receiving end of such allegations, with Dream Heights and The Ville being perhaps the most prominent examples. The company's currently involved in a legal tussle with EA over the latter title, and it's one that PocketGamer.biz guest columnist Jack C. Schecter, Esq. expects Zynga to lose.

But there can only really be one winner for this award, and that's 6waves, the publisher of snowy Triple Town-imitator Yeti Town. It takes the award not only for producing a suspiciously similar game, but also for producing it in rather shady circumstances.

The story goes that Triple Town developer Spry Fox approached 6waves to publish Triple Town on iOS – and gave the company early access to the game through a closed beta.

The deal fell through, and then Yeti Town beat Triple Town to the iOS punch. Spry Fox was not best pleased, but won the lawsuit.
WINNER: 6waves

4. Best dressed award

Always closely fought, the PocketGamer.biz award for the best dressed person in the industry saw some new fashionistas shaping up against 2011's hipsters.

The likes of Oscar Clark (Payapa, now Applifer) and Develop's Will Freeman impressed with their hats (Jon tried his best too).

The RIM execs (Volker and Anders) kept it casual with various shades of Converse boots, and we loved Jan Beckers' red trousers and winklepickin' combo at Gamescom (pictured above).

However, for overall style, range of costumes, consistency across the year, and finally losing the chin fuzz for good, the award has to go to King.com's Tommy Palm.
WINNER: Tommy Palm

3. Companies spunking money up a wall

All-new for 2012, this award is interesting if only in terms of the number of ways companies have invented for getting rid of their cash (apparently unwanted!).

Prime examples can be seen in our list of the top 10 deals of 2012, with Nexon, Zynga and GREE all happy to swap money for the risky pleasures of expensive M&A activity.

Those companies - and several others such as DeNA, TinyCo and Kabam - have also been making the shareholders of companies such as W3i, Tapjoy, AdColony, Chartboost and Flurry very happy as they've splurged tens of millions on user acquisition.

Yet commentators are now questioning its longterm basis, while Apple is increasingly restricting what can and can't be done on iOS.

Still, no doubt, new ways of spunking money up a wall will be invented during 2013.

2. Lazarus award for the biggest comeback

One of our favourite offbeat awards from 2011, we note with interest that last year's winner, Nokia - with its Lumia 800 device - continues its return to health, if remaining a little grey around the edges.

After all, to win our Lazarus award, companies need to be dead before being restored to life. And certainly that was the case with EA Mobile's The Simpsons: Tapped Out.

Originally released in March, the free-to-play game reviewed badly, and not just for the technical server problems EA cited when it pulled the title from the App Store. Indeed, it didn't return until August. D'oh, indeed.

Yet, since its late summer resurrection, Tapped Out has sat in the top grossing charts demonstrating the incredible power of media brands.

WINNER: The Simpsons: Tapped Out

1. Schrödinger's Cat award

Akin to the Lazarus award, our final award is for the company (or product) that like the famous physics thought experiment could be alive or could be dead. Or maybe it's in a state of alive/deadness?

Of course, as Schrödinger argued it has to be one or the other, but because the cat remains in the box and we haven't opened the lid, we don't yet know.

We'll ignore the deeper issue of whether the process of opening the lid is what collapses the waveform, trigging a conclusion, although our legal counsel reminds us to state that no matter what happens in 2013, no causality can be attributed from our decision for this award.

As for the opening of that lid, that will happen on 30 January when RIM finally launches its new software/hardware platform.

Winner: BlackBerry 10

With a fine eye for detail, Keith Andrew is fuelled by strong coffee, Kylie Minogue and the shapely curve of a san serif font.


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jon jordan
The beard category is a difficult one, depending on their state during the year.

Still, good thing Howard from Astraware shaved his off a few years back, else we would have had to retire it.
John Ozimek director
An awesome roundup of 2012. Not sure about the best beard award (I'd have voted for David McTierney of Connect2Media myself) but the rest of it was spot on ;-)