For a few years now, we’ve argued The Game Awards is just about as good as it can be – after all, there’s a ceiling to how engaging an industry awards ceremony, organised by an independent third-party, can possibly be. It’s clearly an expensive production that needs funding, and so the advertisements aren’t going away. Moreover, even though host Geoff Keighley clearly has incredible industry pull, there’s not a lot he can do if platform holders and publishers don’t come out to play.
But last night’s event was an impressive realisation of what Keighley and his team have been working towards. Save for a few awkward moments – like Christopher Judge’s never-ending acceptance speech and the stage invader who was later arrested – the show went off without a hitch. The running time was cut down, and we never found ourselves clock-watching, which is something that usually happens during these events – especially seeing as it doesn’t start proper until 1AM here in the UK.
While the commercial breaks did get more frequent in volume towards the latter half of the ceremony, Keighley largely restricted the advertisements to gaming-related products; yes, it did get a bit tiresome seeing Xbox Game Pass being streamed to a Samsung television every 25 minutes, but at least it was relevant to the audience. Even the pre-show, which included a brief new look at Horizon Call of the Mountain and Castlevania crossover with Dead Cells delivered a very watchable 30 minutes.
There was a good mix of announcements and awards, although we’d still question the importance of categories like Best Esports Coach if they’re going to be glossed over in seconds. We particularly enjoyed some of the guest speakers, like key cast members from HBO’s The Last of Us appearing on stage at one point – as well as Al Pacino. In fact, this was a star-studded show at times, but not toe-curlingly so; Halsey rocked up to perform a brief song prior to Diablo IV’s trailer, but this certainly didn’t drag.