This year’s Game Awards are defined by ommissions not winners
The Game Awards are here again for another year, and some of the highlights of 2023 are getting plenty of recognition. However, it’s the games that were overlooked in the nominations that truly reflect the current landscape of gaming.
With this year being one of the most star-studded in recent gaming history, it’s only natural that some much-loved titles wouldn’t make the cut in some categories. But taking a look at the nominees, you’d be forgiven for thinking that just five games came out this year.
Sometimes there are clear favourites for the Game Awards. In 2020, it was clear that The Last of Us Part 2 was in a league of its own, with nominations in eleven categories and wins in seven. However, this year was different and a whole lot busier, yet, the nominations list doesn’t represent that variety. If you want to see what the year looked like for gaming, the real story is in the ones that didn’t make the cut.
One of the sore thumbs by its omission is Starfield, a game that merely met expectations in a year where many other releases surpassed them. It received just one nomination, in the Best RPG category, which will undoubtedly be taken by Baldur’s Gate 3, and was even beaten by a DLC release for Cyberpunk 2077 in categories like Best Narrative and Best Performance.
Baldur’s Gate 3 will have a good night, there is little doubt, as the game is poised to sweep up to eight awards, including Game of the Year. It’s a critical darling that deserves all the praise it’s been getting, but the fact that it could potentially walk away with a huge chunk of the trophies doesn’t exactly represent the multitude of incredible games we’ve seen this year, even if it’s deserved.
The problem with Game of the Year
No category makes this clearer than the most coveted one. The Game of the Year nominees include a remake (Resident Evil 4) and two sequels that rely heavily on the infrastructure put in place by their previous games (Tears of the Kingdom and Spider-Man 2). You could say the same thing about Super Mario Bros. Wonder if you’re feeling mean.
These are phenomenal games, but what’s really telling about their selection is a Bethesda RPG, a FromSoftware title, and a mainline Final Fantasy game all had to be rejected in order for them to be there. When there’s so much competition, it’s always more interesting to see who gets left out.
Other notable absences are Hogwarts Legacy and Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, both games from instantly recognizable franchises with big fanbases that barely made a ripple in the nominations (Hogwarts Legacy is not nominated anywhere, in fact). In every single category that they want to compete in, a large, Spiderman-shaped obstacle is standing in their way.
Baldur’s Gate 3 and Alan Wake 2 will get the recognition they deserve, no matter who wins Game of the Year. Both are up for eight awards, they’ll probably learn to share. Tears of the Kingdom and the other Nintendo games are so ubiquitous that they barely even need it.
But there were so many amazing games this year, and the Game Awards isn’t big enough to represent them all in the way they deserve.