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When I started streaming The Game Awards, I was in high spirits and could bet with anyone that Spider-Man 2 would win in one of the six categories it had been nominated (seven, if you add the Player’s Voice). However, I was shocked from one category to another as the winners were announced.

Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 received the second largest nominations after Baldur’s Gate 3 and Alan Wake 2, both of which had a joint highest nomination of 8 each. While developers from Larian Studios and Remedy Entertainment jollied to the stage to collect their angel-shaped statue, I could see the disappointment on the face of Brian Intihar who was there for Insomniac Games and Spider-Man 2.

What exactly happened? How did the jury make their choice? I wish I had the answers instead of just sitting around and scratching my head. While The Game Awards delivered a spectacular show, it also stirred up controversies that will linger for days and weeks to come.

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One such controversy was how a game with six nominations went home with nothing. However, Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 is not the only snub at The Game Awards. Gran Turismo, Diablo IV, Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, and Mortal Kombat 1 all received two nominations each but failed to win in any of the categories they were nominated. However, the pain of their loss dims when compared to Spider-Man 2.

Prior to The Game Awards, I shared a post where I recommended the changes the awards should make to their voting system. One of our readers on LinkedIn made an important observation that bordered around the eligibility of games for The Game of the Year.

“I think there should be a minimum period of time before a game can be considered GOTY,” wrote Rohan Kumar, a computer science undergraduate at the University of Liverpool. “Alan Wake 2 released something like a week before nominations. I personally would say 3 months—1 quarter is long enough to determine a game’s impact”.

Alan Wake 2 was released on October 27, 2023, while the nominees for The Game Awards were announced on November 13, 2023. That’s roughly 2 weeks interval. While Alan Wake 2 is a great game, 2 weeks is less than enough to judge a game’s impact—just like Kumar pointed out.

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From my observation, titles released earlier in the year are usually snubbed for those released in the second half of the year—and it’s fairly easy to tell why. In a crowded year like 2023, memories of games released in the first half of the year were quickly eroded by those released in the second half.

The Game Awards was accused of prioritizing revenue over experience

Over a space of ten years, The Game Awards has grown to become the biggest consumer event in the video game industry. As always, the December 7 event delivered a masterpiece experience with a flurry of announcements and world premieres as well as celebrity appearances.

However, most developers are angry because the show didn’t highlight the sad experience game developers were going through. While 2023 is considered one of the best years for video games, it was also the worst year for video game workers.

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Over 7,000 video game workers have lost their jobs and Geoff Keighley said nothing about it throughout the show. However, that is one-half of the grievance. The other half was how the show robbed developers of the joy of walking up the stage by simply announcing the winners and giving them the awards backstage.

“It’s clear The Game Awards is still an event trying to do far too much, with the actual awards frequently getting lost in the glitz and fanfare (and Samsung advertisements), said VGC’s Andy Robinson.

Photo credit: Video Game Chronicles

These thoughts were echoed by Dominik Warkiewicz, brand and e-commerce manager at Larian Studios. Warkiewicz felt the actual award presentation was rushed to give way for advertisements and announcements which is a clear deviation from the primary aim of the show.

“I think we’ve watched two different shows,” commented Warkiewicz on LinkedIn. “Unfortunately, all the 2023 celebrations were rushed, only to give more space to the ads and announcements. I know it’s cool from the community and players’ perspective to see more upcoming titles and trailers, but unfortunately, it’s not fair to all the studios and devs to be rushed like this and given the awards off stage.”

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Several developers took to social media to address what they perceived as an imbalance that tilted the show away from the people that it was supposed to honor. Javiera Cordero, Quest store operation manager, shared a video showing the message prompt (wrap it up) flashed at Larain Studios boss as he was dedicating the Game of the Year win to his late colleague.

Going forward, The Game Award needs to decide whether it wants to be a premiere showcase or an actual award ceremony that will allow developers to express themselves. That may mean fewer commercials and reveals (and lower revenue).

While I love the announcements and premieres at The Game Awards, if slicing off a chunk of it will help the event focus on celebrating those behind the awesome gaming experience that I have all year round, it would be a worthwhile sacrifice.

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Anthony Emecheta

Anthony Emecheta has over a decade experience as a freelance writer. Gaming has always been a childhood hobby and he is excited to be collaborating with a gaming company as a content creator. It is like having all the things he loves in one place.

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