Yesterday was a good day to celebrate gaming because we now know 2023 is going to be good. I know this because I watched all of the ceremonies and trailers at The Game Awards last night. From what they showed off, we can expect a whole year of celebration with awesome games.
Once again, Geoff Keighley’s awards show gave us all a crystal ball into the future, showing us a ton of new games that are coming in the next year or two. We didn’t get to see Grand Theft Auto VI or Starfield or Redfall or the Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. But we did get a good volume of titles that shows the game industry is back to real productivity after hiccups in production that cause a lot of big games to get delayed. I know some of last night’s games will get delayed because it’s the nature of the beast. But some are going to come home.
Among the biggest surprises were the debut of a long-awaited game from Ken Levine’s Ghost Story Games. The title, Judas, has been in the works for something like eight years. It’s nice to see the beautiful BioShock-like game get announced and possibly see the light of day. From the get-go of the event, fans screamed with delight when they saw Dead Cells was getting Castlevania DLC.
I was also excited to see Hades II announced by Supergiant Games, a San Jose, California-based studio that won a lot of Game of the Year awards for Hades. It’s surprising that games as big as that one didn’t get leaked. My kid can now move on from her serial habit of playing Hades over and over.
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And we also saw some well-hyped rumors that turned into reality, like Hideo Kojima’s Death Stranding 2 reveal. I can’t wait to see a six-hour cutscene again. Kidding aside, Kojima’s games are something to behold.
It was no surprise to see Electronic Arts debut Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, but it was a thrill to see it finally get revealed on the big stage. Amazon Games is bringing Blue Protocol, a big MMO, to the West. And Baldur’s Gate III is coming out in August 2023.
Diablo IV got a June 6 release date. Street Fighter VI is coming in June. Um, someone might want to tell them that June will be crowded. Horizon: Call of the Mountain will come out along with PlayStation VR 2 on February 22. Those were the ones we expected to be coming out soon. Transformers got a new title announcement. I suppose we’ll find out that all of 2023 is crowded because we also expect Microsoft, a virtual no-show, to field Starfield and Redfall in 2023.
It was also good to see huge efforts can reap huge rewards. Elden Ring, a massive action role-playing game developed by FromSoftware and published by Bandai Namco, won awards for best game direction and Game of the Year. Elden Ring had the disadvantage of coming out in the beginning of the year compared to God of War: Ragnarok, a game with a more focused narrative.
But winning the top prize spurred its director, Hidetaki Miyazaki, to say that the company will continue to do more ambitious projects in the future. His company showed off one such game, Armored Core, which also got a roar of applause from fans who like big-ass mechs. FromSoftware is taking risks.
It was remarkable how some of the awards and new reveals were passed along to the audience during breaks that were more like 30-second commercials. In those short segments, we saw gems like Company of Heroes 3 getting a console version in 2023. After Us was a small delight from Piccolo Studio.
And we saw moments that pushed technology forward. Jenova Chen showed us Sky Aurora, a concert where players from Thatgamecompany’s hit game Sky could gather together and share a concert in harmony. Potentially thousands of players could gather this way, Chen said.
And while that tech was cool, we didn’t hear anything the metaverse or non-fungible tokens (NFTs) during the whole evening.
I loved to see unscripted moments, like when Christopher Judge, the voice actor behind Kratos in God of War: Ragnarok, went up on stage to accept the awards for best performance. He went on and on as the offstage music signaled him to wrap up. Al Pacino gave him the award and started off with some off-script talk.
The God of War thanked his children and he said, “The best role I have ever had was being your Dad.” That was a touching moment. And it’s why tens of millions of people watch The Game Awards every year. Of course, if everyone went on like Judge, The Game Awards would be as long as Elden Ring. But I think they shouldn’t rush such people off the stage when they in the midst of such a beautiful moment. That’s a line that I would love to deliver to my children in a booming voice before tens of millions of people.
Josef “f*** the Oscars” Fares, who presented the Game of the Year after winning it last year for It Takes Two, drew laughs when he said getting nominated was an honor but nothing is like winning.
And tough guy actor Michael Masden was funny when he went up on stage to talk about Crime Boss: Rockay City, an organized crime game with a sense of humor. That felt like it took advantage of the pent-up demand for a new Grand Theft Auto game with a crook’s sense of humor. It was funny to hear the crowd roar when they saw Danny Trejo as one of the voice actors in the game.
Some people would say the show went as scripted, and that it was pity that they didn’t spend as much time on the awards as they did on the money-making trailers. But Keighley himself said that fans always value the trailers of anticipated games more than the awards, and so he has to balance it all out.
I’d say the show had something for everyone. The GamesBeat team has some pretty diverse tastes. Mike Minotti got his Final Fantasy XVI, coming on June 2. And Jordan Fragen geeked out an a new addition to Rocket League with Lofi Girl for Frost Fest as well as a new addition to Fire Emblem: Engage. I got to geek out on Dune: Awakening, The Last of Us on the PC, and Company of Heroes 3. Rachel Kaser raced for dibs on writing about Bayonetta: Origins and Star Wars Jedi: Survior. Of course, I had to fret that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II got largely ignored in the awards. That’s what you get for being the biggest game. It’s the Call of Duty tax that no one wants to give you an award.
Perhaps the most unpredictable thing of the evening was when a random dude from the audience went up on stage with the winners of the Game of the Year from From Software. After Hidetaka Miyazaki finished his acceptance speech, the guy said some things the mic didn’t pick up and then he said, “Real quick I want to thank everybody and say that I think I want to nominate this award to my reformed orthodox rabbi Bill Clinton. Thank you everybody.”
Keighley tweeted that the individual who interrupted the Game of the Year moment has been arrested.
What would life be without some randomness in gaming. But hey. To all you investors and developers and people betting big on the game industry out there — and all the worrisome folks among gamers — don’t worry. Don’t panic. 2023 is going to be an awesome year for games.
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