The 2018 nominee set for the annual Google Play Awards is now live, and is organized categorically to point out exemplary games and apps that shine in a number of different ways. This year, there are 45 total nominees across 9 categories. The categories are unique in that they're made to celebrate feats, rather than different archetypes of apps and games, for the most part, though there are two categories that represent specific types of nominees in the running. The other seven categories are all about what apps and games do for users, and the mark they made on the Google Play landscape for this year. Only one app appears across categories, and that's PUBG Mobile, which is notable for appearing in "Best Community Building Game" and "Best Breakthrough Hit".
Two categories, "Standout Indie" in games and "Standout Well-Being App" are pretty self-explanatory, and group nominees based on what they are, rather than what they've achieved. The rest of the categories center around things like building out huge experiences for tons of people, apps from startups that found breakout success, apps that have made a huge social impact in one way or another, apps that provide a great experience for disabled users, and apps that use AR and VR technologies in the best ways possible. Aside from "Standout Indie", games are sorted into two categories: "Best Community Building Game", which is populated by games like Pokemon GO and Lineage 2: Revolution that have brought players together and created communities around themselves, and "Best Breakthrough Hit", a category made for games that either came to the party extremely close to award time or were unexpectedly popular, like Final Fantasy XV: Pocket Edition and Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp. As mentioned above, PUBG Mobile is in both of those categories because it released late in the award period and still got great download numbers, and because it built a massive community and media presence with the desktop and console version of PUBG, then ported the full game over to mobile, for the most part, and brought its community with it.
Past years have largely taken the approach of finding the shining stars in specific types of apps and games rather than reaching across labels to look at what those apps and games built or did, so it will be interesting to see just how the top rankings end up playing out. Pokemon GO is a vast measure more popular than PUBG Mobile by download numbers, but the viral shooter still stands a chance in the "Best Community Building Game" category because of its novel approach to that task and how quickly a community sprung up around it, to give just one example of how the final rankings could go quite unexpectedly.