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There was plenty to celebrate, but little time to do so.

Chris Kerr, News Editor

December 7, 2023

4 Min Read
A host on stage at The Game Awards alongside a muppet
Image via The Game Awards

Amid an onslaught of celebrity cameos, vapid waffle, and a deluge of reveals, The Game Awards 2023 eventually managed to celebrate some of the developers and studios behind this year's brightest video games.

The Game Awards has become one of the most high-profile events in the game industry calendar, but this year the showcase and creator Geoff Keighley have been criticized by some viewers for prioritizing marketing material, celebrity guests, and literal muppets over the very people who are the lifeblood of the game industry.

Big winners on the night included Baldur's Gate 3, which was crowned Game of the Year and took home a whopping six awards. Alan Wake II nabbed three prizes including Best Game Direction, Best Narrative, and Best Art Direction, while Cyberpunk 2077 completed something of a redemption arc after being crowned Best Ongoing Game.

There was plenty to celebrate, but little time to do so. Despite the show's roughly three-hour run time, developers were frequently treated to the 'wrap it up' musical cue mid-way through emotional comments about the industry and community, and it often felt like they had a fraction of the time awarded for celebrity monologues. Also of note was the fact that some important awards, such as the prize for Innovation in Accessibility, were relegated from the main event into the preshow roll call–better known as the Geoff Keighley Rapid Fire Bonanza.

As you'd expect, Keighley himself had plenty of airtime and opened the show by proclaiming that "more than anything, this is a show about bringing our community together" but ultimately failed to use his platform to call attention to the major issues impacting developers.

The game industry is hurting amid a tidal wave of layoffs that have impacted thousands of developers at major studios and companies like Unity, Epic Games, Bungie, Embracer Group, Rovio, EA, and so many more.

The pain being felt by those affected and their peers was turned corporeal by the pro-worker protestors picketing outside the show, holding signs (as photographed by VGC editor Andy Robinson) containing messages like "best year for games, worst year for game workers" and "unions are not DLC."

Keighley also neglected to mention the open letter signed by thousands of people, including 70 members of The Game Awards' very own Future Class, that called for The Game Awards team to read a statement on stage in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza. Axios covered that story prior to the show taking place, and noted the letter also drew criticism from some Future Class members for neglecting to mention the Hamas attacks against Israel in early October. 

"There's nothing more powerful or more immersive than an extraordinary video game," opined Keighley, during his opening monologue. "Great games comfort us and help us understand different perspectives on the world, and maybe even change us. That's what makes this medium different."

Judging from the reaction on social media, where words like "depressing" and "embarrassing" were thrown around, Keighley and The Game Awards team need to spend more time platforming the people who make those transformative experiences, and less time chasing a hollow sense of legitimacy by curating a showcase that has the cultural awareness and humanity of a shameless Super Bowl ad.

Here's the full list of winners from The Game Awards 2023:

  • Game of the Year: Baldur's Gate 3 (Larian Studios)

  • Best Game Direction: Alan Wake II (Remedy Entertainment)

  • Best Narrative: Alan Wake II (Remedy Entertainment)

  • Best Art Direction: Alan Wake II (Remedy Entertainment)

  • Best Score and Music: Final Fantasy XVI (Masayoshi Soken)

  • Best Audio Design: Hi-Fi Rush (Tango Gameworks)

  • Best Performance: Baldur's Gate 3 (Neil Newbon)

  • Innovation in Accessibility: Forza Motorsport (Turn 10)

  • Games for Impact: Tchia (Awaceb)

  • Best Ongoing: Cyberpunk 2077 (CD Projekt Red)

  • Best Community Support: Baldur's Gate 3 (Larian Studios)

  • Best Independent Game: Sea of Stars (Sabotage Studio)

  • Best Debut Indie Game: Cocoon (Geometric Interactive)

  • Best Mobile Game: Honkai: Star Rail (HoYoverse)

  • Best AR / VR: Resident Evil Village VR Mode (Capcom)

  • Best Action Game: Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon (FromSoftware)

  • Best Action / Adventure: The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom (Nintendo EPD)

  • Best RPG: Baldur's Gate 3 (Larian Studios)

  • Best Fighting: Street Fighter 6 (Capcom)

  • Best Family: Super Mario Bros. Wonder (Nintendo EPD)

  • Best Sim / Strategy: Pikmin 4 (Nintendo EPD)

  • Best Sports / Racing: Forza Motorsport (Turn 10)

  • Best Multiplayer: Baldur's Gate 3 (Larian Studios)

  • Best Adaptation: The Last of Us (PlayStation Productions/HBO)

  • Most Anticipated Game: Final Fantasy VII Rebirth (Square Enix)

  • Content Creator of the Year: IronMouse

  • Best Esports Game: Valorant (Riot Games)

  • Best Esports Athlete: Lee 'Faker' Sang-Hyeok

  • Best Esports Team: JD Gaming

  • Best Esports Coach: Christine "Potter" Chi

  • Best Esports Event: 2023 League of Legends World Championship

About the Author(s)

Chris Kerr

News Editor, GameDeveloper.com

Game Developer news editor Chris Kerr is an award-winning journalist and reporter with over a decade of experience in the game industry. His byline has appeared in notable print and digital publications including Edge, Stuff, Wireframe, International Business Times, and PocketGamer.biz. Throughout his career, Chris has covered major industry events including GDC, PAX Australia, Gamescom, Paris Games Week, and Develop Brighton. He has featured on the judging panel at The Develop Star Awards on multiple occasions and appeared on BBC Radio 5 Live to discuss breaking news.

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