We just wrapped up The Game Awards 2023, a three-and-a-half-hour (if you include the preshow) event that’s touted as the Oscars of gaming. We’ve always said the show was more about ads than games—this year proved how little respect for developers Geoff Keighley actually has.
2023 has been a phenomenal year for games, but an awful year for developers. We’ve seen scores of layoffs and studios shut down. Embracer bought up every studio under the sun only to lay off hundreds, Bungie laid off 100 developers to avoid being fully subsumed by Sony, and studios keep getting shut down. Even in game media, people are being laid off across the board. This has been a truly terrible year for the industry at large.
Did Geoff Keighley mention any of that? Of course not. It’s disappointing but not entirely unexpected. Even when Activision Blizzard being sued for its treatment of workers was top of the news, and he seemed to make a statement by not showing any of its games, and even went as far as to vaguely talk about the state of the industry, it turned out that had all been planned with Activision. The Game Awards are meant to be a celebration of developers and their creations, but how can we believe that when its host and creator can’t even give a nod to the thousands of developers whose livelihoods were ripped away this year?
As if his silence weren’t bad enough, devs who actually won awards barely got a chance to speak tonight. Several runs of awards were given out as if Keighley were trying to do a speedrun, rattling off award after award without any chance for devs to go and collect trophies and give speeches. Even Best Indie and Best RPG didn’t give developers a chance to stand on stage.
When devs were finally allowed to have their round of applause, they were only given 30 seconds before a giant teleprompter told them to ‘wrap it up’ and music tried to play them off. We all memed when Christopher Judge gave an eight-minute long speech last year, but that was the most heartfelt part of the show. He even joked about it tonight. In absolute terror some developers may want to use an awards show to give thanks to those who helped birth their creations, we heard numerous devs be disrespectfully forced off stage with music once their sliver of time was up.
If there were lots of awards and a ton of devs taking the stage, I’d have more understanding. But this wasn’t done to give all the devs their fair share of the screen, it was done so Anthony Mackie could do a bad stand-up routine, Muppets could appear for some reason, and mobile phone ads could play on the Las Vegas Sphere in a different state. It’s an insult.
I’m sick of pretending The Game Awards is anything other than a soulless advert. Yes, the reveals are exciting, but we need to see every award properly given, with devs allowed to take the stage and thank the people who make games what they are. There would be no Game Awards without games, and there would be no games without developers.
Issy van der Velde