The Game Awards 2023

We take a brief look at The Game Awards' significance in the current conversation in the gaming industry.

The Game Awards 2023
Source: The Game Awards Media Kit

Just by watching at the constantly increasing view numbers of The Game Awards Show since its inception, it's not hard to understand why many big video games industry leaders have chosen it to showcase their upcoming releases. After increasing their views by a staggering 46% in 2020 in their first online-only presentation due to the pandemic, and reaching 83 million viewers, they have kept a modest but constant pace up to 103 million viewers last year. Compare to the reported viewership of award shows like the latest editions of the Emmys (2.9M), Grammys (12.4M), and the Oscars (18.7M) and you can probably get why are they even a "thing".

Despite not having a long history under this name, the production of this show can be traced back to its predecessor, The Spike Video Awards, to almost 20 years ago. After being dropped by the Spike TV channel 10 years ago, its producer Geoff Kieghley decided to continue making this event in its current form to this day. Their popularity can't even be attributed to these 10 years, there are other specialized award shows, like The Golden Joystick Awards that have been running for 41 years, and doing so uninterruptedly.

They're also not the ones with the most exhaustive or involved selection and voting processes. The participation and influence from major publishers and hardware manufacturers might play a big role in The Game Awards relevancy. Not being limited only to advertising, major companies such as Microsoft and Nvidia have a place in the Advisory Board that picks the traditional and online publications that will be surveyed to fill the award categories with nominees. Voting is also left to these same publications with a weight of 90% of the final tally and the other 10% given to the open public vote. It's not really a complex process. It's mostly a broad popular vote, but heavily weighted towards specialized publications.

This process, as simple and straightforward as it is, it's not free of controversy either. The main gripes this year have been otherwise popular picks being "snubbed" in one or another category, which could be argued is a common complaint in any show of its kind. Or a game being added by the jury without looking too much into its actual validity. This has of course sparked a whole slew of accusations of corruption or even of kowtowing to online gender politics extremists. It is yet to be seen how these controversies will influence its viewership, if at all, among all the other social factors that could play a part in the show's popularity.

The timing of this show can also be taken as a "last chance" to take a group look-back at this year's events. There's been a generalized economic downturn. A certain RPG's critical and popular success with a development process done against the trade's status quo. The huge PR gaffe of a vital building piece of the indie sector. Or the merging of two commercial titans. The truth is that every single one of these events could be defining for the future of the industry.

So with all of that in mind, let's dive in a fun confirmation-bias game, and make some predictions for the biggest awards winners, shall we?

Game of the Year

It's hard to expect anything else other than Baldur's Gate 3 to win this one. There's been such a huge discourse around it that could only be compared with last year's Elden Ring cultural and social impact.

Best Game Direction

One could also call it The Runner-Up award without being too cynical, and I can see Alan Wake 2 taking this one. But if recent history repeats, and with the actual voting process of this show in mind, Baldur's Gate 3 can easily sweep every category it's nominated in.

Best Narrative

Both Alan Wake 2 and Cyberpunk 2077 could have a strong case for outstanding story and originality. But it's hard to look at the massive threading of player choice for narrative design that Larian Studios did, and not be awed by their work. I give this one to Baldur's Gate 3 too.

Best Art Direction

One of the few major categories where we're free of the Baldur's Gate 3 "burden". My favorite art style from the nominees is Alan Wake 2, but I can see Hi-Fi Rush picking this one up. Either one has a strong chance in my opinion.

Best Score and Music

I can see Final Fantasy XVI taking this one. They have a solid entry in a category where emotional impact and a huge franchise history of success can play a big role in the voter's minds.

Best Audio Design

Another one I think Hi-Fi Rush has a good chance to win. Being from a genre of games that rely on a strong audio design, they manage to make it look seamless to the core gameplay and very original all at once.

Best Performance

Neil Newbon already got this one in The Golden Joysticks, for his performance as Astarion in Baldur's Gate 3, but I honestly think almost everyone in this category has an equal chance to win.

Best Action Game

Armored Core 6 had its moment to shine, but Dead Island 2 was a shock for everyone to be the success that it is, after a harrowing development history. And for that they become my choice, everyone loves a good comeback story.

Best Action/Adventure

Another pick for Alan Wake 2. Or maybe even Marvel's Spider-Man 2 if Alan Wake 2's chances were affected by its recency.

Best RPG

It feels almost unfair to the other nominees that were included, but it's hard not to pick here anything else than Baldur's Gate 3.

Best Adaptation

Surprisingly competitive category. Any of the nominees is a quality contender, but it is likely that The Last of Us HBO series dominates the voting in the end.

The rest of the categories have less impact in the general conversation, but at least a couple of them will still be looked at by the public due to their attached controversies. Such as Destiny 2 being nominated for Best Community Support, after Bungie recently laid-off their Community Managers among a considerable group of other employees. Or Dave the Diver being nominated for Best Independent Game while being developed by a subsidiary of a big publishing corporation.

What do you think? Am I clueless? Do you have strong opinions about this event? Are you hyped by a rumored announcement in the show? Come tell us on our Discord server!

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