Like every year, what has been dubbed as the Oscars of the video game industry is back: The Game Awards.
This year the show was back in person in Los Angeles on December 9 at the Microsoft Theater for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As always, the show was also streamed online, and the YouTube stream alone on December 10 logged over three million views.
The night included VIP performances, such as Sting, Marvel superstar actor Simu Liu, and renowned actor Giancarlo Esposito.
The event was started in 2014 by host Geoff Keighley, a former journalist. It includes entertainment, new game announcements, and awards for the top performing videogames of the year in several categories.
Keighley kicked off the extravaganza by saying in his opening speech: “It feels so incredible to be back on stage at the Microsoft Theater.”
Among the top announcements of the night was the early 2022 release of the live-action Halo Series, the popular Among Us VR Game, and Dune: Spice Wars which is set to come out for PC in 2022 as a real-time strategy game spinoff.
The Game of the Year is always the most anticipated accolade. This year the title was taken by It Takes Two, released by Hazelight Studios, and published by Electronic Arts (EA).
In a line-up which is often dominated by the usual big-name companies such as Sony Interactive Entertainment, CAPCOM, and Square Enix, among others, It Takes Two by Hazelight, an indie company, is somewhat of a unicorn.
Swedish game director Josef Fares took the stage in visible jubilation after hearing the announcement: “I want to thank my beautiful team, I wouldn’t be able to do anything without them,” he exclaimed.
The game is an adorable rendition of a couple trying to repair their relationship. They are transformed into dolls and have to overcome a series of challenges and tasks.
Forza Horizon 5 (Playground Games/Xbox Games Studios), the popular driving game, won the most awards of the night, taking home prizes for Best Audio Design, Best Sports/Racing, Innovation in Accessibility.
A couple of Japanese games also found recognition. NieR Replicant ver.1.22474487139 by Square Enix takes home the prize for Best Score and Music, by composer Keiichi Okabe. Final Fantasy XIV Online (also by Square Enix) got the award for Best Ongoing and Best Community Support. It is considered one of the most popular sagas to kick off in video games globally.
Final Fantasy XIV’s developer Cameron Turner thanked the organizers for the recognition, saying “There is an incredible team that poured its heart into the game, bringing new and memorable stories to our fans, a big thank you to Final Fantasy XIV, I can’t wait to see what is going to happen in the future.”
He elaborated with a message for the game’s fans: “The biggest thanks goes to our community, they are our rock and we are so happy that you continue to give us support.”
Other notable mentions coming out of Japan include Tales of Arise, released by Bandai Namco Games, who received the award for Best RPG (role-playing game) and Guilty Gear – Strive, by Arc System Works, who got the Best Fighting Game award.
Halo Infinite by Xbox Game Studios, which was just released on December 8 after much anticipation and a beta version release, received the Players’ Choice Award.
Video gaming as a sector is on the rise. According to Newzoo, the market is on track to pass the $200 billion mark by 2023. To put it in context, the video game industry now is larger than TV, movies and music combined. The global film industry, for example, first hit $100 billion in gross income in 2019.
With the popularity of video games on full display at The Game Awards, it is safe to say the gaming boom will not be stopping anytime soon.
Author: Arielle Busetto
(Click here to read the article in Japanese.)