It’s award season for gaming again.
If you’ve read any of my previous articles, you probably realise that I’m not the biggest fan of The Game Awards.
It’s not that I have anything against award shows. In fact, I think that the entire gaming industry is in need of a large dose of class and prestige. Award shows do it for movies, so why not for video games?
The problem is that The Game Awards have always been an exercise in marketing before they were ever about honouring achievements in gaming.
Don’t believe me?
Well if you can ignore the literal mountain of sponsors, advertisers, and game previews, there is one award category that completely shatters the pretence that this event was ever anything other then a way to push ads on a captive audience:
The Most Anticipated Game
For me, whenever this nomination comes up, it signals that The Game Awards have stopped being about video games. If we take a look this year’s nominations, you might see what I mean:
God of War – developed by Santa Monica Studio
Marvel’s Spider-Man – developed by Insomniac Games
Monster Hunter: World – developed by Capcom
Red Dead Redemption II – developed by Rockstar Games
The Last of Us Part II – developed by Naughty Dog
Now the Most Anticipated Game is a fan’s choice award. That means that we’re being expected to decide on these without many of them being in a playable state. Hell, Red Dead Redemption and The Last of Us haven’t even released any gameplay footage.
Given that the general gaming public has little to no experience with these titles, it begs the question, how the heck are people deciding which game should win this category?
It’s not on the strength of the story, the ingenuity of the gameplay, the fidelity of graphics – you know, things that are important when it comes to actually enjoying the game.
Instead, this award is gauging something else from the audience. Something much more sinister.
What does the award actually measure?
Hype. The award measures hype.
Now that might not sound like the worst thing in the world, but you’ve got to look at it from the perspective of the slugs and drones in game marketing.
Through their eyes, hype is just a reflection of how well they’ve done their job. It’s the desired outcome from all the teaser trailers, viral marketing campaigns, and sponsored content. It’s just one big push to generate hype so when the game finally comes out, copies just walk right out of the store.
If you see The Game Awards as an exercise in marketing, then you realise what the purpose of the Most Anticipated Award actually is.
It’s a survey.
You’re being asked to rate which of next years games have generated the most hype, and by extension, which marketing department did the best job.
I’m not against market research, but keep it out of my award shows. If there was ever one night that should just be about the games, it’s this one.