Beside the usual festive season, the end of the year is now also marked by a more recent tradition, The Game Awards. This event was initially created in 2014 by the gaming journalist Geoff Keighley to award the best games released each year, but has steadily grown to be more of a showcase for announcements of the upcoming ones, mixed with a considerable amount of related advertisement, absorbing some of the mediatic space left by the now (probably) defunct E3. It’s safe to say that TGA is by now one of the most important events in this media, with a viewership of 103 millions in 2022, according to the organisation. As so, everyone is interested in having a small piece the three and half hours of the ceremony’s runtime, from the small indie studios to the big names. There’s a bit of everything in here.
But let’s focus on what happened during this year’s edition. Who came out on top and who or what were the biggest disappointments? Let’s find out by nominating the winners and losers of the The Game Awards 2023.
Baldur’s Gate 3
There’s no way to deny it, Baldur’s Gate 3 was the indisputable winner of this year, claiming 6 awards in 9 nominations, including Game Of The Year. This feat was even more impressive if we consider the quality of the other nominees in every category it claimed, being this one of the most competitive years ever. I personally didn’t played it as I’m not that invested in Dungeons & Dragons (in which this game is based of), but I believe all the acclaim was deserved. After all, it was arguably the best-received game this year, being truly consensual among critics and fans.
Alan Wake 2
Other game that collected a nice amount of little statues, with 3 awards in 8 nominations. Curiously, Alan Wake 2 was announced to the public precisely at The Game Awards, two years prior. Surely a must play for fans of survival horror.
Who would have thought that Sega would have the best announcement of this TGA? I didn’t, even thought they teased it a few days before. Sega has a precedent of overpromising and underdelivering, so I was cautious. Surprisingly this time the hype was justified. They announced FIVE new titles at once, from their repertoire of dormant franchises: Jet Set Radio, Crazy Taxi, Streets of Rage, Shinobi and Golden Axe. As a long time Sega fan, it’s impossible to not be excited with this. The only problem I saw was the fact they mentioned that this games were “now in development”, which means that we probably won’t see them anytime soon. One or two may come out later in 2024, but my hopes are low. To be fair, I don’t mind to wait. Kudos also to Atlus (which Sega owns), for showing new trailers for the two games I’m most eager to play next year: Persona 3 Reload and Metaphor: ReFantazio.
It’s well known that the mastermind behind Metal Gear Solid and Death Stranding has a good relationship with Geoff Keighley, which grants him a free pass to use TGA as its own marketing platform. At this point it would be a surprise to not see him on stage talking during several minutes about an upcoming project without showing anything substantial about it. This year we were presented with a game called “OD”, with the only thing shown being a tech demo of a few face animations. It was weird, in classic Kojima fashion. I don’t know if it was a win for the public in general, but for him it was for sure. See you next year Kojima-san.
With little to no presence during the event, Nintendo managed to sneakily snag 3 awards: Best Action / Adventure Game (The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom), Best Family Game (Super Mario Bros. Wonder) and Best Sim / Strategy Game (Pikmin 4), in a total of 15 nominations. A fair reward considering the great year they had in terms of releases. Regarding the future, Nintendo didn’t unveil the curtain, although their 2024 looks pretty slim so far. Probably not the right time for announcements, as they might have bigger fish to fry with their imminent upcoming system.
Marvel’s Spider Man 2
Sony’s sole horse for the silverware race lost in a spectacular way, taking home a staggering amount of zero awards, in 7 nominations. It was unfortunate, as the game actually looks good and should be fun to play, taking in consideration my knowledge of its predecessor. However, it was outclassed in every category it was nominated for. As I said before, this was a very competitive year and Spider Man 2 ended up being the colateral damage.
It was already known that Starfield wouldn’t be in the discussion for a huge amount of awards, as it wasn’t even nominated for Game of the Year, but considering it was one of the most anticipated games of 2023, it’s disappointing to see Xbox and Bethesda’s newest crown jewel relegated to second plan, recieveing a single nomination for Best Role Playing Game. Even there it had the misfortue of encounter and lose to the inevitable Baldur’s Gate 3. Can’t say it was unfair, since the game’s reception was mixed overall, but Todd Howard surely must be a bit disapointed with this outcome.
Every award winner on stage
Last year during the winning speech for Best Performance, Christopher Judge, who portrayed Kratos in God of War Ragnarök, caught everyone by surprise by speaking uninterruptedly for eight minutes. It was clear that even the production wasn’t aware of what was happening back then, because this year they overcompensated for that little detour. This time around each award winner had no more than a single minute to deliver their speech before having a “Please wrap it up” message on the teleprompter. The Game Awards always had problems in balancing the show between the awards itself and the promotional side, with the balance tending more and more in favour of the later as the years go by. I would be lying if I said that I don’t care about those announcements, but to put in perspective, any of the several ads for Lego Fortnite or Honkai: Star Rail that ran during the event lasted longer than any winner speech.
From the few interesting announcements, to the winners trimmed speeches, passing by the countless unnecessary ads (I know Lego Fortnite is a thing FFS, I saw the first ad), The Game Awards 2023 was a complete mixed bag. I hope Geoff takes his lessons from this year and turn this event into something truly great, because the potential is already there. Or probably give 20 minutes on stage to each winner to compensate for the overcompensation.
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