Game of the Year: Is it Important For the Industry?

It's the one award that stand above all others, but how much cache does it really have?

It’s the one award that stand above all others, but how much cache does it really have?

Game of the Year. It’s the award. It’s the Best Picture at the Oscars. It’s the award that developers and publishers desire for a variety of reasons, including the chance to release those popular “Game of the Year Editions.” It’s handed out by literally hundreds of different sources around the globe. Undoubtedly, it’s a feather in the cap of the title and the team that made it.

Yes, it’s a fine thing. But is it really important for the industry, or is purely trivial? Is it something only the core gaming crowd cares about? And as mainstream gamers vastly outnumber the hardcore group, one wonders if “Game of the Year” even matters to the overwhelming majority of gamers. Sure, such awards still create plenty of discussion and controversy, especially when big sources surprise everyone with a dark horse pick. But this firestorm usually dies out pretty quickly and by the New Year, most have forgotten.

Perhaps it’s not as big of a deal because we don’t have a standardized system. We don’t really have an official authority (like the Academy in film) to distribute such awards and as such, there’s no one “event” every gamer knows about. All we have are a ton of different sources and journalists, with a ton of different viewpoints, standards and guidelines, issuing their opinion at the end of the year. That’s why you end up with literally dozens of different GotY awards, and why the award itself doesn’t have much meaning.

It's nice to win but what does it really mean?

It’s nice to win but what does it really mean?

At the same time, optimists could argue that because there’s so much diversity and variety in gaming journalism, consumers get a broader view of the year. More great games have a chance to shine, rather than just a few hogging the spotlight. On top of which, if a game manages to snag just about every major award, it means even more considering the sheer number of different standards out there. There are plenty of reasons why our current system isn’t bad, but that doesn’t mean it has a significant impact.

If you ask gamers, most will say they don’t care at all about end-of-year awards. Granted, a lot of that is the legendary gamer ego that says, “I know what’s good and I don’t need to be told” and therefore, we shouldn’t give it too much weight. But there are many avid, honest gamers out there who really don’t care, while others think it’s fun to debate during the month of December. Perhaps that’s the biggest problem: The consumers themselves aren’t even sure of the importance of “Game of the Year.”

And if the consumers aren’t sure they want it, and if there’s no central authority or group that everyone respects enough to issue these awards, where does that leave us?

7 thoughts on “Game of the Year: Is it Important For the Industry?”

I think it’s important but only to a point. As the article says, most people who buy video games are just casual or mainstream players; they don’t care at all about such awards.

At the same time, I think it helps the industry because games that receive such accolades help developers and publishers understand more of what critics will respond to. So we get better games, right?

It means nothing to me.

I don’t like statements like that. It either means you’re nothing but an egomaniac (as if it’s a be-all, end-all statement), or it means anybody else who cares about it is just an idiot.

I agree, Cloud. It just sounds egocentric to me.

I’d say it’s important because we need to honor the developers that do great things for this industry. If we don’t, it’s like we’re saying we don’t care. And when publishers think we’ll buy just about anything if it has enough advertising behind it, we get into trouble.

Agree 100%.

^^^ Me too.

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