#81: And the winner is...

Premiere /ˈprɛmɪɛː/

noun the first performance of a musical or theatrical work or the first showing of a film.

Sorry, just thought that might be helpful to some of you today.

I do not want to spend today shitting on The Game Awards. I really don’t! For one thing, I think Geoff Keighley comes in for enough stick as it is, and doesn’t need me piling on (and I rather respect his hard work and hustle). Besides, I think it’s a great idea for an event. There is a yawning gap in the game-industry schedule at this time of year, with E3 and Gamescom a distant memory and GDC months away. There is no better moment on the calendar to celebrate the achievements of the year just past and also look forward to what’s next. And until Keighley came along, there was no blockbuster, black-tie awards event for the game industry to look forward to: an Oscars for games, if you’ll forgive the lazy shorthand. As a concept, I think The Game Awards makes a lot of sense.

So, concept: good. Execution: hrmmmmm. I think last night’s show proved that, in its current form, The Game Awards does not do justice to its name. In fact I think it may outright insult it. I love an exciting new announcement as much as anyone, and there were certainly plenty of those last night. But the balance is way, way off, the awards component of the show playing distant third fiddle to WORLD PERMEERs and commercial opportunities. There were 20 minutes between the first and second award last night, then another 20 before the third. In between were exciting new game announcements, increasingly elastic uses of the word ‘premiere’, movie trailers and musical performances, and a staggering amount of advertising. Traditional trailers for games that have been out a while; light-hearted spots commissioned especially for the show; shoutouts that Keighley awkwardly crowbarred into his bits to camera (I found the Spotify Wrapped one particularly excruciating, but take your pick).

I dunno. I think perhaps the creators and developers that the event is supposed to lift up, honour and celebrate deserve a little better. That the winners could perhaps be allowed to give speeches that go beyond the traditional thank-yous; that they could talk about their process and their philosophies, the challenges they faced and how they surmounted them, rather than having to make way after 45 seconds for an advert in which an esports star warns kids off vaping. That the awards component of the night could feel like the structure of the thing, rather than just its scaffolding. That awards could feel like the reason we’re here, rather than just an excuse for a star-studded, black-tie pseudo-E3 broadcast in a quiet spot on the calendar.

I understand that it has to be this way. That if it weren’t for all the announcements no one would tune in, and the commercial partners wouldn’t return Keighley’s calls so eagerly. But as I did my daily rounds of the games-media front pages this morning, I saw an awful lot of coverage of new games, and next to nothing on the awards themselves. That is as telling as it is sad. I don’t blame the press for that — like Keighley, they know what their audience wants. But it shows that there’s still a gap in the market for an event that does what The Game Awards only purports to do. And our industry will not be properly celebrated, nor taken quite as seriously as we would like, until that gap is truly, honestly filled.


  • Kickstarter is moving its platform over to the blockchain. While an eye-roll is the natural reaction to this, I think it is actually rather interesting. The first successful uses of the blockchain will be the ones that focus on its advantages as a protocol rather than using it to make rich people richer; this feels like a step in the right direction, at least. I shall postpone judgement for now.
  • As if to prove my point, Ubisoft has delisted the announcement video for its move into NFTs after it was met by precisely the reaction you’d expect. Just 5% of engagements with the video were likes. Yowch. Ubisoft went ahead with the launch of the project yesterday, however.
  • The deadline for Apple to allow thirdparty payment systems in App Store apps has been postponed pending Apple’s appeal.
  • Phoenix Wright is to feature in an advertising campaign aimed at warning Japanese youth about the dangers of cannabis, as you do.
  • Masayuki Uemura, the mastermind behind the Famicom and Super Famicom and head of Nintendo’s R&D2 hardware division until his retirement in 2004, has passed away aged 78.
  • Activision Blizzard staff have taken the first steps towards unionisation.
  • The Epic Games Store now has a shopping cart. Be still my beating heart.

Right, that’s your lot. I’m now off to sample that Matrix thing everyone is raving about. (Update: holy crap!) As ever, if you’ve enjoyed today’s edition, do please give it a share, particularly if you have a sizeable social media following (I see you! You could really help me out!). Wishing you all a wonderful weekend. See you on Monday.