Every Apple Game of the Year, Ever

A complete list of Game of the Year winners for iPhone and iPad

The Apple App Store is home to thousands of games for iPhone and iPad. Every December, Apple awards its Game of the Year honor to a title on each iOS platform. We compiled a list of every Game of the Year winner for iPhone and iPad since the award's creation in 2010.

Most of these titles are available for both iPhone and iPad through the Apple Arcade subscription service.

2020

Genshin Impact - iPhone

The developers of Genshin Impact set out to make a PC-quality game for mobile devices, and they really outdid themselves. It features astonishing anime-style graphics and an original orchestral soundtrack on top of the depth of gameplay you'd expect from an open-world RPG.

Genshin Impact was also named the Google Play Game of the Year for 2020. Best of all, it's free to play, so you have nothing to lose by giving it a try.

Genshin Impact

miHoyo

Legends of Runeterra - iPad

If you're intrigued by card games like Magic: The Gathering or Hearthstone but are too intimidated by all of the rules, Legends of Runeterra makes for a great entry point into the world of competitive card duels. It's more streamlined than the games it takes inspiration from, and the beautiful hand-drawn animations add enough excitement for veterans of the genre.

If you're a League of Legends fan, you'll notice many familiar faces since Legends of Runeterra is from the same developers.

Legends of Runeterra

Riot Games

Disco Elysium - Mac

Another role-playing game on the list, Disco Elysium isn't your typical fantasy fare. It's set in a gritty city that the player is tasked with protecting. As the town's top detective, you have a choice: play by the rules, or play dirty to make sure justice gets served. The gripping story presents players with tons of meaningful choices, adding almost endless replay value.

Disco Elysium came out on PC in 2019, but it didn't get a Mac release until a year later, which is why it qualified for the 2020 award.

Disco Elysium

ZA/UM

Dandara Trials of Fear - Apple TV

Dandara: Trials of Fear was developed in Brazil and stars local folk hero Dandara, a woman who used her preternatural powers to escape slavery. In this 2D platformer, players must traverse an underground maze filled with traps and puzzles to reach freedom. For most gamers, Dandara: Trials of Fear offers an experience like none other that's deeply rooted in Brazilian art and mythology.

Dandara Trials of Fear

Long Hat House

Sneaky Sasquatch - Apple Arcade

Easy enough for kids but entertaining enough for adults, Sneaky Sasquatch is the perfect outdoor game for when you can't actually go outdoors. Players take the role of a hungry bigfoot who has to steal food from campers while avoiding park rangers.

The game undeniably draws inspiration from Yogi Bear, but it has a distinct art style and sense of humor that keeps players coming back for more. The developers continue to release new updates that are free for Apple Arcade subscribers; in other words, there are no in-game purchases.

Sneaky Sasquatch

RAC7

2019

Sky: Children of the Light — iPhone

From the makers of Flower and Journey, Sky: Children of the Light is a heart-warming adventure game that encourages positive interactions between players. Don't be deceived by the cutesy aesthetic; Sky: Children of Light is a surprisingly deep experience.

Each of the seven worlds you can explore is based on different stages of life, giving the game a unique real-world connection. With all of the negativity online, Sky: Children of the Light offers a refreshing reminder that the world is fundamentally a good place.

Sky: Children of the Light for iPhone
Thatgamecompany

Hyper Light Drifter — iPad

Hyper Light Drifter is an ambitious tribute to the late 90s role-playing games, but it looks more impressive than anything you've played on the Super Nintendo.

Players must traverse a beautiful, desolate land ravaged by violence in search of a cure for a mysterious illness. What starts as a straightforward RPG becomes increasingly complex as you evolve your character to learn new skills and craft new weapons. Top it all off with a haunting soundtrack by Disasterpeace and you have the best game for iPad of 2019.

Hyper Light Drifter for iPad
Heart Machine / Abylight S.L.

Sayonara Wild Hearts — Apple Arcade

With the launch of Apple Arcade in 2019, Apple created a new category for games on its subscription service. The first honoree was Sayonara Wild Hearts for its stylish animation, heart-pounding original soundtrack, and exhilarating gameplay. It has players racing through surreal environments, participating in motorcycle duels and dance battles along the way.

The game runs so smoothly on the iPad Pro that you'd swear you were playing on your PS4 or Nintendo Switch.

Sayonara Wild Hearts for iOS
Simogo

2018

Donut County — iPhone

One person's trash is another raccoon's treasure in Donut County. This cute physics-based puzzle game has a surprising amount of depth. Most impressively, the game was created by one person, Ben Esposito, over a six-year period. If you enjoy Donut County, you should try Esposito's other games like What Remains of Edith Finch and The Unfinished Swan.

Donut County for iPhone
Ben Esposito

Gorogoa — iPad

Another story-driven puzzle game, Gorogoa features gorgeous hand-drawn illustrations by designer Jason Roberts. The game contains no dialogue or instructions; players are left to their own devices to manipulate the objects on screen to progress the visual narrative.

If you're looking for a mind teaser that is anything but frustrating, then Gorogo should be your go-to.

Gorogoa for iPad
Jason Roberts

2017

Splitter Critters — iPhone

If you love games like Cut the Rope, Splitter Critters was made with you in mind. The goal is to guide adorable aliens back to their homeworld by cutting up construction paper environments and rearranging them with your fingers. You'll probably want to play with headphones to enjoy the hypnotic soundtrack.

Unlike a lot of mobile games, Splitter Critters doesn't feature ads or in-app purchases, so you don't have to worry about any interruptions.

Splitter Critters
RAC7

The Witness — iPad

There sure are a lot of puzzle games for iPad, but few are as intricate as The Witness. It has a simple premise: You awake in a mysterious place and must figure out how to get home. Rather than progressing linearly from puzzle to puzzle, players have a huge open world to explore at their leisure.

The Witness is similar to games like The Room, but it's on a grander scale than anything that's been attempted on a mobile device.

The Witness on iPad
Jonathan Blow / Thekla Inc 

2016

Clash Royale — iPhone

Clash Royale builds upon the mechanics that made Clash of Clans so successful while introducing new elements to the real-time strategy genre. Part card-based RPG, part tower defense game, Clash Royale pits players against each other in one-on-one or two-on-two battles for glory. Weekly challenges and events made this the must-play mobile game of 2016.

Clash Royale on iPhone
Supercell

Severed — iPad

In Severed, players hack and slash horrific monsters and use their limbs to solve puzzles. While that may sound morbid, the vibrant graphics and creative character designs lend some levity to the task.

The iPad version of Severed supports several iOS-exclusive features including the Metal graphics accelerator, Apple 3D Touch, and video recording with ReplayKit. Branching paths, multiple difficulty levels, and achievements aplenty add hours of replay value to an already lengthy experience.

Severed for iPad
DrinkBox Studios

2015

Lara Croft GO — iPhone

Remaking a beloved video game in a different genre is a bold task. Nonetheless, the developers at Square Enix Montreal knew how to keep the Tomb Raider spirit alive: by focusing on the tension and dangers that made it so great in the first place.

Based on the original PlayStation classic, Lara Croft GO is a turn-based puzzle game that challenges players to survive 101 unique puzzles as they unravel the mystery of the Queen of Venom.

Lara Croft GO Apple Game of the Year
Square Enix

Prune — iPad

Raising bonsai trees is meant to be a peaceful, meditative experience, and Prune certainly fits that description. Easily one of the best puzzle games on iOS, Prune can also be challenging and deeply satisfying.

As the title suggests, players prune the branches of a swiftly growing tree in a way that helps them reach the sunlight so that they can bloom. Since this is a video game, there are more than a few pesky obstacles that get in the way.

Prune Apple Game of the Year iPad
Joel McDonald

2014

Threes! — iPhone

If you've played 2048 on iOS or Android, then Threes! will feel familiar. The original version of the popular sliding-block puzzle game, Threes! is simple yet challenging. Players must move like-numbers together to create bigger numbers. If you let the board fill up, it's game over. A catchy soundtrack, charming visuals, and original gameplay made this one an easy pick for Apple in 2014.

Threes!
Sirvo LLC

Monument Valley — iPad

With its MC Escher-inspired gameplay, jaw-dropping visuals, and wordless story, Monument Valley became one of the App Store's biggest hits in 2014. It was so successful that it became a key plot point in season three of House of Cards on Netflix.

Another puzzle game, Monument Valley encourages players to explore impossible landscapes. Players must poke, prod, and turn the environment to reveal new pathways for their heroine princess.

Monument Valley Apple Game of the Year 2014
ustwo

2013

Ridiculous Fishing — iPhone

Do you enjoy hunting and fishing? Ridiculous Fishing lets you do both at the same time. First, you must drop your lure into the water as low as you can, avoiding all of the smaller fish along the way. Once you've hooked a big one, reel it in and fling it into the air so that you can shoot it with your hunting rifle. Ridiculous Fishing certainly lives up to its name, but it's also strangely addictive.

Ridiculous Fishing Apple Game of the Year 2013
Vlambeer

Badland — iPad

Badland is a gorgeous game in which players use their fingers to guide curious-looking critters through a dangerous forest filled with deadly traps. Despite its simplistic controls, Badland features meticulously crafted levels that will test your mind and reflexes.

In the years since the game's initial release, Badland has seen plenty of updates, including a level editor that lets you design and share your own stages.

BADLAND Apple Game of the Year 2013
Frogmind

2012

Rayman Jungle Run — iPhone

Rayman Jungle Run was a pioneer of the immensely popular endless runner game genre. Early platformers on the iPhone relied on virtual d-pads and on-screen buttons to replicate the experience of holding a controller. Rayman Jungle Run eschewed this standard, instead opting for one-touch simplicity. This formula has since been perfected in games like Super Mario Run and Alto's Adventure.

Sadly, Rayman Jungle Run is no longer available in the Apple App Store, but Android users can still download it on Google Play.

Rayman Jungle Run Apple Game of the Year
Ubisoft

The Room — iPad

Not since Myst has there been an environmental puzzle game so deep and challenging. An absolute must-have for iPad owners, The Room offers a series of unique boxes that can only be unlocked by solving increasingly complex puzzles. In addition to several sequels, The Room has inspired hundreds of imitators, thus breathing new life into an old genre.

The Room Apple Game of the Year 2012 ipad
Fireproof Games

2011

Tiny Tower — iPhone

Tiny Tower offers a simplistic (but deeply satisfying) empire-building experience. Players build floor after floor in their tower, setting up shops and matching potential employees with their dream jobs.

Since 2011, the team behind Tiny Tower has gone on to create a variety of cool mobile experiences. The multiplayer word game Capitals, the Snake-inspired roguelike Nimble Quest, and the Tiny Tower-esque Tiny Death Star were all produced by the folks at NimbleBit.

Tiny Tower Apple Game of the Year 2011
Nimblebit

Dead Space for iOS — iPad

It's stunning to think that a game like Dead Space for iOS could look so slick on the iPad in 2011. An original story set between Dead Space and Dead Space 2, Dead Space for iOS was every bit as tense, terrifying and gorgeous as its console brethren.

As far as horror games go, this was the best title in the App Store for many years. Unfortunately, the game is no longer available for download, so the only way to play it is to jailbreak your iPad.

Dead space apple game of the year ipad 2011
EA

2010

Plants vs. Zombies — iPhone

EA showed the world how powerful a device that fits in your pocket could be for gaming with its mobile version of Plants vs. Zombies. As 2010 was still the early days of the App Store, getting a full PC port was basically unheard of. The innovative lane-based design put a new spin on the tower defense genre that was sorely needed back then.

PvZ went on to become one of the most successful mobile game franchises, spawning several sequels such as Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare.

Plants vs Zombies Apple Game of the Year 2010
EA

Osmos — iPad

Another surprising PC port to iOS, iPad gamers in 2010 would have sworn that Osmos was built from the ground up with touchscreens in mind. Serene, gorgeous, and powered by gravity on a scale that Carl Sagan would approve of, Osmos is a game about mass and movement amongst the stars. Osmos is the sort of experience that's hard to pin a label on.

It may be old by mobile standards, but if you haven't tried it, the App Store's first iPad Game of the Year is still a fantastic experience for touch devices.

Osmos iPad Apple Game of the Year 2010
Hemisphere Games
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