Today, Apple announced the winners of 2021’s App Store Awards. Conducted by Apple’s global App Store editorial team, the awards recognized developers around the world who created apps and games that excelled in quality, innovation, design, and cultural impact.
I was given the opportunity to attend a virtual panel alongside developer Hironobu Sakaguchi who you may know as the creator of the Final Fantasy franchise. During the event, I had the unique pleasure to chat with some of the award winners about their projects.
Apple recognized a number of games across its many platforms. League of Legends: Wild Rift won iPhone Game of the Year, while MARVEL Future Revolution won iPad Game of the Year. The Mac Game of the Year went to Cyan’s Myst. Pixelbite’s Space Marshals 3 was awarded Apple TV Game of the Year. The Apple Arcade Game of the Year went to Mistwalker’s Fantasian, a project helmed by Sakaguchi.
Among Us has been a critical success throughout the year and was recognized for bringing people and players together. Apple’s editorial team decided that 2021’s trend of the year should be “Connection” which developers Innersloth’s game certainly excels at. Other apps awarded in this category include Bumble, Canva, EatOkra, and Peanut.
I had the chance to meet with a few of the winners and talk about their award-worthy games. Sakaguchi walked me through the creation process of Fantasian in great detail. Fantasian, which had deservingly snatched up the Apple Arcade GOTY award, is an AA game with a great team behind it. More than 300 people worked on the game, with 150 of them being artists. It’s the first mobile game that uses physical set-piece elements to create the rich world that you see in the game. The creative vision behind the game is beyond impressive.
I also had the opportunity to talk to the people at Pixelbite who created Space Marshal 3, the winner for Apple TV Game of the Year. This top-down tactics title focuses on stealth and clever decision-making. What I found particularly interesting about Space Marshals 3 is that it’s a story-driven game, but not linear. You can approach the levels as you want, and make your own experiences. One of the main goals for the developers was to create a sense of immersion through level design, and they definitely accomplished that.
Finally, I had the chance to meet executive producer Joe Lee who was behind Netmarble’s Marvel Future Revolution, the winner of the iPad Game of the Year, and the first Marvel action RPG on mobile. As you would expect from a Marvel game, in Future Revolution you have access to a lot of iconic characters, and you can customize them with a great deal of variety. The game features recognizable locales and events from the Marvel universe, and it’s a must-play for fans of Marvel who like to game on the go.
On the non-gaming side, the winners’ lineup was an equally eclectic one this year. Toca Boca’s Toca Life World was awarded iPhone App of the Year. LumaFusion from LumaTouch snagged iPad App of the Year, and Luki Labs Limited’s Craft was given Mac App of the Year. The Apple TV App of the Year went to sports streaming service DAZN from DAZN Group. Finally, Grailr’s Carrot Weather won the award for Apple Watch App of the Year.
Getting to chat with the creators behind this year’s winning games gave me a lot of valuable perspectives, and I appreciate the opportunity. The event was a pleasure to attend, and it left me with a great deal of curiosity for what else the Apple ecosystem will have to offer in 2022 and beyond.