The Game Awards 2020 Wrap Up - Will I Return to This Nightmare?
For those new to the blog, The Game Awards is something I tolerate. It's not "wow this is amazing." It's barely groundbreaking. It falls into a number of the same issues that SpikeTV's Game Awards faced. The show is more of an E3 mini-clone than an award event.
One thing that I will give credit for is the show incorporates a number of smaller developers to highlight their games, as well as marginalized, under-represented groups from the gaming community. It's putting everyone on the same platform as AAA announcements, and that's an exciting thing to be a part of. I see that The Game Awards is trying in this area, and it's appreciated.
But unlike in years prior where I ho-hummed my way through the show, this one felt disappointing. It's due to the same issues this show has always held, but more prevalent than before.
For 2020 the show went fully digital due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. For nearly 4 hours, the pre-show panel, pre-show, and real show slap-dashed it's way through award announcements and overdosed our eyes with new game trailers. With a digital only format, you'd think the event would have been more efficient in it's presentation. Instead it enhanced issues that have been there all along.
Let's begin with the innocuous criticism of this year: the canned audience applause after ever winner announcement. We knew it was fake. We knew people were not there. It was weird and unnecessary, breaking the flow of the scripted host dialogue. At times it was a bit cringy. Please don't do this unless it's with an intentional comedic effect.
Next more major issue is the closed captioning cut out during the pre-show and never returned on YouTube. With this being vastly pre-scripted, there was an assurance that closed captions would be available. But just before the first musical act in the pre-show, performing a song from an upcoming Persona album, the captions dropped and never reappeared. While some may not see an issue with this, for those with hearing impairment this was a problem. Some people noted to me in the tweet storm the same issue. Basic troubleshooting did not resolve it, so we were stuck with audio only. Not the most friendly of circumstances and something that could easily be resolved next time.
Best Ongoing Game continues to be a joke category. This is an area I have been annoyed with for years because it always ignores MMO's, except for Destiny 2. I have had people argue with me that Destiny 2 is not an MMO but an FPS multiplayer. Regardless, Ongoing Game is exactly what it sounds like - a game that continues to provide outstanding content and development over time. I'm not a fan of World of Warcraft, but why does this title not quality? Or The Elder Scrolls Online which has seen much improvement over the past year in it's design and development to reinvigorate the player base. It doesn't make sense why this type of game is excluded. This isn't to dismiss the games selected for the category, but year and year the ignorance of MMO's is astounding.
My biggest negative criticisms are two major aspects of the show that seemed much more blatant this year thanks to the lack of a live audience and random non-sequiturs from presenters: the presentation of awards and the drawn out self-indulged praise to whichever The Game Awards considers to be their top title. Let's tackle the first one.The Game Awards has always been about 85% World Premieres and 15% awards. I'm being generous with those numbers.