ada-newsEvery year at WWDC, Apple highlights a selection of Mac and iOS apps which they feel are the most innovative and well-designed apps of the past year, and award them a coveted Apple Design Award (ADA). The award itself is a very cool, very Apple-y little cube that comes with a touch-activated light-up Apple logo. But more than the cool piece of hardware is the knowledge that Apple themselves have deemed a particular app or game worthy of recognition. This year, as in years past, a good number of the ADA winners are for games.

This year in particular, it feels like the games that were picked as ADA winners are the absolute cream of the crop on the iOS platform, and are all pretty much must-own experiences. Of course, the ADAs aren't all about games, so be sure to check out the full list of winners for some seriously great apps. But hey, we're a gaming site, you know? So without further ado, here's the games that won ADAs this year.

Monument Valley, $3.99 - [Review] - Ustwo's brain-bending puzzler was far and away the game everyone I talked to expected to win an Apple Design Award, and with good reason. It exemplifies elegance, design and innovation in a way that few iOS apps do. Apple noted the fabulous art, the soundtrack and the awesome use of technology as some of the reasons they chose it as a winner. Very well-deserved.

Device 6, $3.99 - [Review] - Simogo is known for their emphasis on style and design, and this holds true with Device 6, but it goes far beyond that. In Device 6 they successfully take the idea of a written novel and turn it into a game, but in an incredibly innovative way where the words themselves help lead you on your journey. Combined with clever puzzles and surreal visuals and sounds, we've never seen anything like Device 6, which is exactly why Apple chose it as an ADA winner.


Threes!, $1.99 - [Review] - When it comes to design, Threes! is an absolute standout. It uses crisp, colorful, minimalist visuals. It utilizes intuitive swiping gestures to play. And it's a strategic game about combining numbers that's easy to learn but difficult to… well, you know the rest. All those reasons probably could have landed Threes! an ADA on their own, but what really stood out to Apple was the incredible personality of the game. The game pieces with their individual names, expressions and quips makes Threes! come alive in a way that no copycat can duplicate.

Leo's Fortune, $4.99 - [Review] - Platformers are one of the oldest and most popular genres in gaming, but it's also a difficult genre to do right. Anyone can throw together a collection of levels to run and jump through, but it takes something truly special to stand out. Leo's Fortune is one of the best platformers on iOS due to its fantastic touch controls, clever level designs, and attention to detail. It also doesn't hurt that it's one of the most visually pleasing games around.

Blek, $2.99 - [Review] - Blek was something of a dark horse out of all the ADA winners, having launched back in December but not reaching widespread popularity until April. It was a slow burner, but it's been topping the charts since then, and it's easy to see why. It's a fun, challenging, minimalist puzzle game, but what really stands out about it is its novel use of touchscreen gestures. There's something that feels very "alive" about the way you draw gestures on the screen, and in fact Blek is a game that I couldn't imagine would be possible on anything but a touch-capable device.

  • Stormourner

    the original games: hooray!!! =D
    the clones: BOOOOOO!!!!!!!! >=(

  • JPhilipp

    It's interesting how Apple on the one hand pushes the originals, and on the other hand approves keyword-title-packed straight clones. (Not judging, just observing. Deciding what is a clone in the mass of submissions may be a can of worms.)

    • dancj

      There's a big difference between allowing an app and actively publicising an app.

      I think Apple probably have it right by allowing clones, but only pushing the originals.

      • JPhilipp

        We should ask: Would they allow this same kind of straight clone (in design and naming) when it's a clone of their own apps? Am I allowed to release an app called "Flappy Facetime"? I know they protect some trademarks, IIRC I once wasn't even able to submit an app with the word "tower defense" in the meta keywords list!

      • dancj

        They do ban direct clones when the owner of huge original objects (which is why iTrialz became MotoTrialz and had to be moved to an outdoor setting).

  • Kane

    Why no EA or Gameloft games? They're the better ones..

    • Design by Adrian

      No they're not.

    • Stormourner


    • paulkane

      My Evil Twin!

      • Stormourner

        you again?? XD

    • the_rebel14

      Yeah! Where are those? I love the way they ask for money at every turn! That OBVIOUSLY means that they should be on there, right?

    • StealthDawg


  • Desertking24

    Anyone know who past winners are because I must a lot of them and I'm playing catchup

    • Arch Deluxe

      If only there was someway you could look that up....

  • Juroku

    No IB3 :'(

    • terrence92

      It got enough attention in the past from apple I presume

  • JCho133

    This is a very respectable list. I love it.

  • Jake7905

    A true complaint proof list, sometimes Apple does get it right.

  • Jacob Gehman

    Already played Monument Valley, Threes!, and Blek. Blek is worthy of this award, though it is a game I lose patience with all too quickly. So while it wouldn't make my personal favs list, no qualms with it being here. Threes! is great and I love it, though my skill is mediocre at best.

    Monument Valley, on the other hand. That is a life-changing game that totally demolishes preconceived notions of what game design can be. A total no-brainer pick for the award and it's good to see Apple didn't fumble that gimme.

    Regardless, based on those three games I went and bought Device 6 and Leo's Fortune.

    Leo's Fortune has some of the best platforming controls I've seen on iOS and I still find myself craving a real controller. Levels are good and it's certainly pretty to look at.

    Now, Device 6? That game. Man. I wasn't sure what to expect. But it delivered an experience that is beautiful. Like, it is so different from Monument Valley, but I reacted very similarly in terms of it smashing my notions of game design. Like, if someone told me I could only keep one of them on my iOS device, I'm not sure I could pick one over the other.

    Both Monument Valley and Device 6 are showcase pieces that reveal iOS is a platform that can be more than paint-by-numbers freemium grabs, half-assed movie-tie-ins, or awkwardly controlled ports. It was a good (award season) year.