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Facebook selects Criminal Case (not Candy Crush) as game of the year

Pretty Simple's Criminal Case is the Cinderella gaming story of the year, according to the social network.

Screenshot/Jennifer Van Grove/CNET

King's Candy Crush Saga was inescapable this year -- for better or worse -- but it's not Facebook's game of the year. Instead, the social network hand-picked Criminal Case, a hidden object game from Pretty Simple, as its 2013 top pick.

Facebook published its 2013 games of the year list on Monday. The list represents an editorial collection of titles that were chosen based on a variety of factors, including player ratings, quality, monthly and daily active users, commercial success, and Facebook's opinions on innovation and creativity.

"The game maintains the highest possible player ratings for quality," Dan Morris, head of North American games partnerships for the social network, told CNET of Criminal Case. "It's the hallmark of a top quality game ... and [Pretty Simple] succeeded in inventing a really new experience on the platform."

Though not in the same league as Candy Crush (yet), Criminal Case has 100 million monthly active users, a number that was practically unthinkable at the beginning of 2013. "Pretty Simple came from out of nowhere," Morris said, adding that the French indie studio went from a blip on the radar to an extremely important game company in the span of 12 months.

"I don't think anyone has any doubts or concerns about the success or importance of Candy Crush," he said. "It truly goes without saying. But what we had hoped to do in the specific case of Pretty Simple and Criminal Case is to make sure that they're getting some well-deserved attention."

No one should feel bad for Candy Crush. The match-3 game has catapulted King into the spotlight in a major way, so much so that the gaming studio is exploring a 2014 public offering. And Facebook didn't totally snub it. The social network included Candy Crush as an honorable mention in its collection of "Hall of Fame" apps, which also includes Zynga's Farmville 2.

On the whole, the end-of-year list is likely meant to remind people, and investors, that though Facebook doesn't make a ton of money from its gaming business, this booming social subculture keeps 260 million people glued to the social network each month. Facebook would also have you know that core games -- aka the opposite of casual games -- are taking off on the platform, hence the presence of Wartune, VIkings Gone Wild, and Thunder Run War of Clans on the list.

The complete list of Facebook's picks for best 2013 titles is included below.

Game of the Year 2013

  • Criminal Case (by Pretty Simple)

Best New Games of 2013

  • Bake Shop Drop (by Broken Bulb Studios)
  • Farm Heroes Saga (by King)
  • Heart of Vegas (by Product Madness/Aristocrat)
  • Hit It Rich Casino Slots (by Zynga)
  • Jelly Splash (by Wooga)
  • Kitchen Scramble (by Playdom/Disney Interactive)
  • Monster Legends (by Social Point)
  • Smurfs & Co.: Spellbound (by Ubisoft)
  • Soldiers Inc. (by Plarium)
  • Solitaire Tales (by Qublix)
  • Thunder Run War of Clans (by SpinPunch Games)
  • Vikings Gone Wild (by EveryDayiPlay)

Staff Favorites

  • DoubleU Casino (by AFewGoodSoft)
  • Game of Thrones Ascent (by Disruptor Beam)
  • King's Bounty Legions (by Nival)
  • Panda Jam (by SGN)
  • Wartune (by Road7/Proficient City)
  • War Commander (by Kixeye)

2013 Hall of Fame

  • Candy Crush Saga (by King)
  • FarmVille 2 (by Zynga)
  • Slotomania (by Playtika/Caesar's Interactive)
  • DoubleDown Casino (by DoubleDown Interactive/IGT)