The Game Awards was all over the internet last night, as the top trending item on Twitter and airing on 40 global video networks, including live coverage in China. It certainly felt more momentous than last year, with so many more world premieres of games across more than hours of programming.
If only the Oscars were this entertaining. You see, the good thing about Geoff Keighley‘s show is that it shows you gaming’s past with the awards, but it also points to the future with the sneak peeks at next year’s games.
And the awards weren’t boring, because there was some tough competition this year with games like Red Dead Redemption 2, Marvel’s Spider-Man, Celeste, Dead Cells, and God of War. Josef Fares, who declared last year “F*** the Oscars,” came out onstage again at this year’s The Game Awards, but he didn’t have to give his rant about how games are as culturally relevant as movies. With everyone doing the Fortnite dance, that’s kind of obvious now.
I was stunned to see Sony’s God of War take both the Best Game Direction and Game of the Year titles, partly because it came out last spring and because Red Dead Redemption 2 seemed to be sweeping a lot of the big awards.
But it was so nice to be surprised. The year before, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild ran away with the awards because it had no real competition. But Nintendo didn’t have to worry so much, since the biggest cheer of the night came when they announced a new character from Persona would appear in the Super Smash Brothers Ultimate game.
I would have picked Red Dead Redemption 2 for Game of the Year (and I did, in the voting). I felt like it raised the bar for seamless interaction between cinematics, scripted scenes, and gameplay. I felt so immersed in that world as I played the game for more than 50 hours across 105 missions. You could tell it was built with care, with more than 2,000 people working on it for as long as eight years.
The story was massive, and perhaps it was just a little too big, as I’m sure many people haven’t finished it yet.
But I would not begrudge God of War, which Sony Santa Monica made over seven years. That game was a brilliant reboot of the franchise, as it turned a hack-‘n’-slash title into something much deeper.
The story of Kratos, the God of War, and his son Atreus is so touching. It transforms the game into a narrative about a father and son. It has a stunning ending, and the Santa Monica gang wove a tight story over 25 or so hours, or about half the length of Red Dead Redemption 2’s tale. God of War is brilliant. I played it all the way through, and so I wasn’t unhappy that it delivered an upset blow to Red Dead Redemption 2.
I shook the hand of Cory Barlog, God of War’s game director, and he was equally surprised that he won. He called everybody a winner. It was heartwarming to see the team gather outside the Microsoft Theater for a group picture.
And I would not feel sorry for Rockstar Games and Red Dead Redemption 2, as that game could very well sell 20 million games by the end of December. With Red Dead Online launching, Rockstar doesn’t have to worry about anything.
I was pleasantly surprised to see so many big games coming in 2019, like BioWare and Electronic Arts’ Anthem, Ubisoft’s next Far Cry: New Dawn game, id’s Rage 2, Mortal Kombat 11, and many others. It also made me feel good to see the Epic Game Store go live, bringing competition to the Steam, Mac, and Windows stores on the PC. We don’t have to worry that games aren’t a healthy business.
And perhaps most of all, it made me feel good to see the Three Amigos — Phil Spencer of Microsoft, Reggie Fils-Aime of Nintendo, and Shawn Layden of Sony — go up onstage at the same time to celebrate the coming together of the games industry. It’s like things are very good for everybody, there’s plenty of birthday cake to go around for everybody, and nobody has to fret that the cake is a lie.