The Game Awards controversy: Dave the Diver drama explained

Dave the Diver controversy at the Game Awards with Geoff Keighley

Dave the Diver is a nugget for all gamers in 2023, so what could be more natural than to find the game among the Games Awards nominees? The problem isn't its merit, but its place in the 'best independent games' category, which has caused controversy among developers. I'll take you through the controversy to find out everything you need to know about the debate surrounding the Dave the Diver nomination.

Dave the Diver controversy shakes up indie developers with sense of injustice

Dave the Diver's controversial nomination at the Game Awards in the Best Independent Game of the Year category has caused quite a stir. And for good reason: there's a shadow over the award. A shadow of more than 1.8 billion dollars, since that's the positive financial result generated by Nexon this year and Dave the Diver belongs to a Nexon subsidiary. In other words, this isn't exactly fair on independent competitors, whose human and financial resources are clearly limited. It's enraging indie developers who are going through difficult times, with ever-increasing competition and a saturated gaming market.

Polémique jeu indépendant Dave the Diver

And don't expect to save the day for another indie game you've loved by voting for it. If Dave the Diver has to be elected despite the controversy, there's nothing you can do about it. It's a bit like politics. The reason is simple: there's almost no point in voting for your favourite game at the Game Awards, since the public only counts for 10% of the votes, compared with 90% represented by the jury. Excuse me, but a cocktail with 90% alcohol and 10% water is still an ice cube in a glass of ethanol.

And if you want to see some real indie, they'll be in the Day of the Devs after the Games Awards, as well as in the Wholesome Snack Games Stream, which has some cozy little treasures in store for us every time.

And what if the debate surrounding indie awards could change thanks to the Dave the Diver controversy?

With all the noise, the developers have lifted the veil on a deeper problem at the Game Awards and in certain awards systems, such as our own, the Mobi Awards. Why do we need a category dedicated to indie games? Even more so if anyone, like Dave the Diver, can enter as long as they have an "indie look" in pixel art or hand-drawn.

In fact, we don't have a AAA or AA category, so why put the poor little indie guys in their corner? Simply because we can't recognise their worth in 'normal' categories? It's a bit sad, I think. So, if Dave the Diver and the rest of them can get in on the last bastion of indie awards, there really won't be much left for the small studios.

Controverse autour des Game Awards des meilleurs jeux vidéo indépendants

All we need to do is be as fair as possible in assessing the value and effort put into games of all sizes in the classic genres: action, storytelling, graphics, and so on. At, this has given us a lot to think about, and awards with a vote virtually reserved for a jury, like the Game Awards, should be able to break away from the indie category to offer a nice mix of styles and sizes in all the usual award categories.

For us, it's more complicated. Given that our award is 100% community-driven, there's little or no chance of an indie game winning Best Game, but we could quite happily do away with our indie category and spread the nominees across the categories to which they really belong... The Dave the Diver controversy has given us all food for thought, and that's at least one positive thing in this story.

The Game Awards selection of the year's best mobile games

In the midst of preparing our own selection of the top mobile games of 2023, we're obviously keeping an eye on the other awards ceremonies. So, what do we think of the Game Awards selection? In the mobile category, the nominees are:

  • Final Fantasy VII: Ever Crisis,

  • Hello Kitty Island Adventure (Apple Arcade exclusive),

  • Honkai: Star Rail,

  • Monster Hunter: Now,

  • Terra Nil (Netflix Games exclusive).

A division between friends

Without going into the games themselves, we can see that the selection is designed to appeal to the big players in the sector rather than to gamers, particularly with the presence of one game from each major subscription (the Google Play Pass is positioned more as a general offer and is not a direct competitor with a catalogue of dedicated exclusives; it mainly gives access to premium games for free). This brings to mind the controversy surrounding Dave the Diver, whose nomination is not representative of his category. Does this really illustrate what has marked the year for gamers?

Récompenses meilleurs jeux mobile aux Game Awards : nominés Terra Nil et Hello Kitty Island Adventure

Our detailed opinion on the choice of phone games at the Game Awards

FFVII 's reception was rather mixed, even for gamers used to mobile, and Square Enix hasn't really shone for several years, apart from Octopath Traveler. Hello Kitty isn't bad at all in its Animal Crossings-like genre, but its exclusivity has made it totally opaque to a large part of our community. For its part, H:SR is far from perfect, but it's still a technical feat with a story and characters that are very much HoYoverse. With Monster Hunter Now, we're entering a grey area. The game effectively embodies a powerful revival for Niantic, which had been sinking in its own quicksand since the pandemic. Still, I wouldn't call Monster Hunter Now one of the best mobile games of the year.

What happened to Harry Potter Emerges, Super Meat Boy Forever, Dawnlands, Farlight84, Underground Blossom or Lost Words Beyond the Page? I don't think the Game Awards have managed to hold back the key moments in this year's mobile games releases. Don't worry, we're going to rectify that.

Sélection controversée des jeux aux Game Awards

Finally, Terra Nil is one of the buggiest launches in the entire Netflix mobile catalogue, even if this is a general problem with all Netflix mobile games. The concept is original, but no less so than Spiritfarer, Poinpy, Narcos Cartel Wars or Into the Breach, which are better rated and more solid.

Despite the controversy, we hope the Game Awards are fair

To conclude on the Game Awards and the Dave the Diver controversy, it's clear that the selection of games can't be perfect. But to give the finger of honour to indie games that are struggling to manage their budgets and have limited resources, by taking on a subsidiary of a big company that's playing the indie game, I think must be deliberate and that it benefits someone, somewhere, but not the person who could have been highlighted by this award for his hard work as an indie, despite his lack of visibility, nor the other nominees who see their award partially discredited.

Hideo Kojima applauds Geoff Keighley


So are the Game Awards like the Oscars? How much does it cost to get one? Tell us Geoff, we're interested, for a friend.

Yaya Yaya would never have spent a single cent on a mobile game. At least, that's what the legend says.
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