Subnation | Scott Bernberg | December 2, 2020
When high-minded enterprises like The Hugo Awards and the Tribeca Film Festival announce that they will be including video games in their awards selections, you know that the idea of video-games-as-a-celebrated-art-form has gone legit. But all this critical acclaim might not have been possible without THE Game Awards — the six year old showcase championed and hosted by game journalist Geoff Keighley. The Game Awards have become a very real part of awards season through sheer determination and the tireless work of Keighley himself. So if anyone thought COVID would slow its progress, especially at a time when gaming continues to grow exponentially, they’d be mistaken.
This year’s iteration is going down, via remote broadcast from around the world, on December 10th. So today we’re going to take a look at the nominees from the most hotly-contested categories and share our thoughts on who should win, who will likely win, and because this is a real awards show now, who got snubbed.
Best Indie | Nominees:
- Carrion (Phobia Game Studio/Devolver)
- Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout (Mediatonic/Devolver)
- Hades (Supergiant Games)
- Spelunky 2 (Mossmouth)
- Spiritfarer (Thunder Lotus Games)
Snubbed: Deep Rock Galactic. Destructible environments are fun. Destructible environments getting obliterated by bad-ass space dwarves is deserving of industry recognition — especially with characters that are completely lovable and gameplay this tight and polished. There should have been room for this soon-to-be-classic that had its full release on Steam in May, after all dwarves are on the small side. Would have fit neatly into this category.
Who Should Win: Hades. All due respect to the hard-working men and women toiling away at major game studios, but there are teams that number in the hundreds that don’t put out work as polished as Hades. Great writing, top notch gameplay and an intriguing take on the underworld, makes this our fave indie of the year. And it’s so sexy too.
Who Will Win: Fall Guys. Will likely get the praise it deserves for taking over our collective consciousness during the troubling summer of 2020. And hey, it’s a great game. Just ask those who helped it cross the astonishing 10 million mark in sales.
Best Mobile Game | Nominees:
- Among Us (Innersloth)
- Call of Duty Mobile (Timi Studios/Activision)
- Genshin Impact (Mihoyo)
- Legends of Runeterra (Riot Games)
- Pokémon Cafe Mix (Genius Sonority)
Snubbed: Anything that would have taken that Among Us slot. We love Among Us as much as the next impostor, but the game was released in June of 2018. That’s like saying Titanfall should win Best Game of 2020 because we bought it for five bucks during a Steam sale then made some hilarious content about it. This one feels, dare we say, mighty sus.
Who Should Win: If it’s all about technical achievement, then Call of Duty Mobile should bring home the prize. If we’re judging based on how much money it’s siphoned out of our wallet, the Zelda-like Genshin Impact is the winner. But for overall addictive gameplay and genre-reinvention, we’ll go with innovative CCG Legend of Runeterra. If for no other reason than it provided a proper escape from the horrible metas Hearthstone inflicted on us in 2020.
Who Will Win: Among Us. It changed the meta. It made Discord a phenomenon. It brought out the best/worst/best in all of us. Plus, there’s an old saying in the car sales business that “a guy doesn’t walk on the lot unless he wants to buy.” You don’t court controversy by including the game here unless it’s got a strong chance to win.
Best Ongoing | Nominees:
- Apex Legends (Respawn/EA)
- Destiny 2 (Bungie)
- Call of Duty: Warzone (Infinity Ward/Activision
- Fortnite (Epic Games)
- No Man’s Sky (Hello Games)
Snubbed: Grand Theft Auto V Online. It can be jenky as hell, and is about as welcoming to newbies and outsiders as that party in Eyes Wide Shut if it were attended exclusively by advanced DOTA 2 players, but you’ve got to give Rockstar their due. For the past six (!) years, they’ve kept a steady stream of compelling content flowing into the game, and distracted everyone’s attention away from Red Dead Redemption 2 Online in the process.
Who Should Win: No Man’s Sky. The redemption story of Hello Games and it’s charismatic leader Sean Murray is an inspiration — especially at a time when so many studios cut and run on their titles that don’t fare well right out of the gate. Murray could have spent the past two years sipping pina coladas on a beach in Tahiti, but instead he chose to roll up his sleeves and fulfill the tremendous promise of his ambitious game.
Who Will Win: Warzone. Along with Animal Crossing, Fall Guys and Among Us it was one of the four horsegames of the apocalyptic year we just experienced. But it was more than just a spin off. Warzone breathed new life into a COD franchise that was feeling very stale by being an outstanding execution of the battle royale genre. It also brought legions of new players to COD that came for the free download and stayed for the fun, tight, and competitive gameplay.
Game of the Year | Nominees:
- Animal Crossing: New Horizons (Nintendo)
- Doom Eternal (id Software)
- Final Fantasy VII Remake (Square Enix)
- Ghost of Tsushima (Sucker Punch)
- Hades (Supergiant Games)
- The Last of Us Part II (Naughty Dog)
Snubbed: Half Life: Alyx. A real head scratcher here. How do you ignore a game that provided hope for the entire concept of VR gaming, AND was the next iteration of one of the most beloved game franchises of all time, AND was a true masterpiece in its own right?
Who Should Win: Animal Crossing. For helping us keep our sanity during the first half of 2020. For reminding us of the power of video games. For providing optimism during the darkest timeline. The Longest Year of Our Lifetime Achievement Award, if you will.
Who Will Win: The Last of Us Part II. Not the game we needed at this point in time, but that doesn’t detract from its greatness. Like the original, the characters are rich and well-drawn, the visuals good enough to make you wonder if you really need a PS5 after all, and the gameplay is polished to a fine shine. As for the dour tone during dour times, Naughty Dog didn’t make the world we live in, they just release games in it.
Be sure and catch The Game Awards, streaming on December 10th — and check back after the show for our full report on winners and losers from the evening’s Zoom-based festivities.