The BAFTA Game Awards were held on March 30, with a few predictions coming true, and several notable upsets. Megahit God of War: Ragnarok strode ahead with six awards, while Elden Ring earned two. Meanwhile, fan-favourite cult hit cat simulator Stray came away empty-pawed.
It proved to be a somewhat successful night, however, for mobile gaming.
Immortality, available on Android and iOS through Netflix Games, took home the award for best narrative, in perhaps the biggest upset of the night. Endling - Extinction is Forever took home the Game Beyond Entertainment award, while Vampire Survivors took home two awards: Best Game, and Best Game Design.
The caveat, of course, is that none of the prizes went to mobile exclusive titles. Each of the awarded mobile games were initially released on console or PC, before being ported to mobile devices at a later date.
Is mobile gaming taken seriously?
Award shows have routinely overlooked mobile gaming. Compared to AAA releases, the most profitable and popular sector of the gaming industry has a reputation among the wider industry, and consumers, as being somewhat frivolous, dominated by hypercasual titles more concerned with courting the attention of a wide audience with accessible gameplay and storylines.
In contrast, award shows are dominated by games like God of War, The Last of Us: Part II, or Elden Ring: Big budget titles which represent hundreds of jobs and a far greater development cost than the majority of mobile games. This includes significant investment in areas such as narrative, graphics, and sound design - areas which mobile gaming can downplay while still maintaining success and profitability.
Yes, mobile games taking home four awards at the BAFTAS is worth celebrating, but the question remains: does mobile gaming need to win awards? While awards can raise the sector’s profile in the public consciousness, and result in a significant boost in downloads and revenue, mobile gaming as a whole remains the most profitable not because of critical acclaim, but accessibility. Marvel Snap didn’t win a single award at the BAFTAS, but still passed the $50 million milestone earlier this month, making it one of gaming’s biggest successes last year. Award recognition is absolutely the cherry on top for any game maker, but mobile gaming has routinely thrived without taking home the big prizes.
At The Game Awards, Marvel Snap took home the award for best mobile game - the only exclusively mobile title to win at the ceremony.
But don't worry. For those seeking true mobile justice and an opportunity to celebrate what this great branch of gaming is all about, there's always the Mobile Games Awards taking place this year, in London on April 20th. And voting for YOUR favourites is still open. Make sure you show your love and that mobile gaming gets the accolades and night it deserves.