The 2019 Game Awards might be the worst one in history. The Game Awards started in 2003 and has been cognitively distant from its target audience, gamers. Each year it tries to pick the most milk toast, popular “good game” from each year. Whether it is Breath of the Wild in 2017 or God of War in 2018, the committee constantly chooses the safest game that they think will satisfy the general audience. However, this year they seemed like they were just scraping the bottom of the barrel of games and attempting to differ from the public’s opinion. Some of the selections for the games in each category feel like they only watched the E3 presentation previews for the game and did not actually play it.
The picks for each game were just jarring. The nominations for this year’s game of the year award were Smash Ultimate, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, Resident Evil 2, Control, Death Stranding, and The Outer Worlds. It feels like brilliant games such as Devil May Cry 5 and Borderlands 3 were not even considered by the committee. Even more niche genre specific games like Kingdom Hearts 3 or Mortal Kombat 11 deserve at least some type of recognition when picking the best game of the year. The winner of the game awards was Sekiro. While it is a good game in its own right, it does not stand out as being the best game of the year. In my heavily biased opinion, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate should have won just from the games that were eligible. Smash was far from the best game of the year, and I feel like the award should go to Devil May Cry 5 for its gameplay alone. Various other picks just felt completely random, like showcasing a segment for Untitled Goose Game but not selecting it for either Best Indie Game or Debut Indie Game awards. Even worse, Disco Elysium, a game I have literally never heard of, won both awards. Untitled Goose Game was being talked about for weeks after its release and it swept through the internet with lots of buzz and various memes being spread. It was the talk of the town for the internet, it was the best selling game on the Switch in October, and it at least deserves more recognition than an awkward, 5 minute skit.
The 2019 Game Awards was plainly hard to watch. I don’t watch many awards shows, but out of the ones I have seen, this one stands out as being the laziest. The main commentator, Geoff Kieghley, looked bored and tired throughout the whole performance. There was a section in which Kieghley had to interact with one of the characters from Apex Legends. Halfway through, he lost interest and started blankly staring at the screen and reciting his lines without emotion. While I don’t play Apex Legends, the character was obviously a bombastic, joking type of character and Geoff Kieghley did no reflect that mood. He trudged through his forced banter as quickly as possible. Most of the actual awards for each category were mentioned very abruptly and did not give many games proper recognition. The game chosen by fans as the best of the year, Fire Emblem 3 Houses, was mentioned for all of 30 seconds and quickly brushed aside. When discussing award for the best narrative, the commentator randomly referenced the popular show WestWorld. Also, Vin Diesel stumbling over his words trying to announce Sekiro as the game of the year was simply unprofessional for an awards ceremony. The most telling event that highlights the quality of the awards show is a crowd of people who just got up and left after the musical performance by Green Day.
The most memorable part of The Game Awards were the ads. The awards show was 3 hours long and didn’t need to be. None of the game reveals were particularly good, most of the awards felt undeserved, the commentators didn’t know what they were doing, and it dragged on for 2 hours too long. I could only hope that The Game Awards and gaming in general will be better in 2020 because if this performance points to the future, gamers have dark times ahead for their industry.