The Game Awards 2020 Recap: Naughty Dog Dominance and Commercials

All you need to know about The Game Awards 2020 - what occurred and what's worth a recap after all the build-up has been exhausted? Filled to the brim with celebrity cameos, reveals, and a plethora of commercials, there was no shortage of generally passive entertainment.

The Game Awards 2020 Recap: Naughty Dog Dominance and Commercials Cover

For games, young as the medium is, there was never a ceremony present that rivaled the “value” and “honor” of The Oscars, The Grammys, etc. That is, until 2014, when Geoff Keighley decided to create The Game Awards, which aims to honor and pay due respect to the best games in individual categories in the same way as other award ceremonies. The difference between this and, say, the Spike Video Game Awards is that this contains an air of professionalism and attempted inclusiveness that provides an avenue for publishers and marketers to want to hop in stronger. Thus far, it’s worked, and now The Game Awards is not just a night of awards, but a chance for game developers to make major announcements, similar to the E3 events. In the year 2020, with no E3 and a pandemic running amok, the Game Awards hoped to provide some hype heading into the new year. What was there to see? Was it worth watching at all? Let’s recap the 2020 Game Awards and drink up all that popped out of the proverbial champagne bottles.

Sephiroth

Just about 12 hours prior to this year’s Game Awards, the Nintendo of America Twitter account tweeted an announcement that the next Super Smash Bros. Ultimate DLC fighter would be revealed at the event. This, naturally, got a fair number of people hyped, debating incessantly about whether it would be Crash Bandicoot, Jonesy from Fortnite, or Sora from Kingdom Hearts. It turned out to be none of the above, as the first major announcement of the night was quick and needed no introduction.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate – The One-Winged Angel! - Nintendo Switch

The inclusion of the famous antagonist of Final Fantasy VII is both surprising and unsurprising. Given the release of Final Fantasy VII Remake this year and the resurgence of love it unearthed, it was almost as natural an inclusion as Mario. Plus, considering a portion of Ultimate‘s new roster is comprised of iconic rivals (Ridley, Dark Samus, King K. Rool) and the prior DLC choice of Cloud, it makes total sense. Yet with all of this credible evidence, most shot for the moon and beyond, such as the popular predictions specified above. Sephiroth as a fighter in Smash Bros. is a move that most will accept either by going insane or nodding their head and saying, “Duh, why didn’t I think of that?”

Not too many cries of “another anime swordfighter” that I can see either, curiously enough.

This one and only announcement wrapped up Nintendo’s brief presence at the 2020 Game Awards. Aside from a couple commercials reminding viewers that the Switch exists, there was one new trailer for the upcoming Monster Hunter Rise. Cool if you’re into that, but it’s nothing we didn’t already know.

And the Award Goe—The Last of Us Part II

Naughty Dog’s latest, and perhaps most debated, game has become the most awarded game in the Game Awards’ short history. With a total of seven award wins, including the much-coveted Game of the Year award, The Last of Us Part II had a near-perfect sweep. The only awards where it was nominated that it didn’t win were Best Art Direction (Ghost of Tsushima), Best Score and Music (Final Fantasy VII Remake), and Player’s Voice, which is an award determined by fan vote (Ghost of Tsushima again). Otherwise, it won everything else.

The Last of Us Part II - Official Launch Trailer | PS4

To the dismay of many, it seems the story of cyclical violence and personal introspection was too much to overcome for the other nominees. Since last night, I’ve come to notice some who latch more onto the Player’s Voice award as a clear indication of what should have been the Game of the Year winner. What some may not know is that only 10% of fan voting determines the winner of these awards, as stated by the FAQ page on the official site. The remaining 90% is determined by a voting jury, comprised of “over 95 global media and influencer outlets.” When you couple this with the incredible critical reception to the game, are the results really so surprising?

So despite conspiracy theories that the 2020 Game Awards were paid off or rigged for the sake of ratings, the evidence points to a clear winner in most of these categories. In the end, the “fans” determine very little in the outcome of these awards, which may play into why many don’t take these events seriously. A disconnect between the average player and those within media who play the biggest and best games for job-related purposes are likely to have a different perspective on what a game is or should be.

But hey, complete apathy is a valuable mindset to have, too. Whatever wins, wins. We’ll still be playing games afterwards.

Curious to see who won what? See our full list of winners from the 2020 Game Awards.

The Reveals

New games are always pretty exciting for players. The 2020 Game Awards delivered on that front, especially if you like color-diluted shooters and spiritual successors/surprise continuations. However, those expecting much from big, AAA developers likely came out disappointed. As already stated, Nintendo had the Sephiroth reveal and then essentially radio silence. Most else came in the form of AA studios and a varied amount of experimental projects.

Season - The Game Awards 2020: Official Announcement Trailer | PS5

These are the things that got my attention, for whatever reason:

Ark II (and Animated Series)

In a Horizon Zero Dawn-esque world starring Vin Diesel, shoddy animation, and uncanny valley faces, the reveal of an ARK II was one of the most shocking reveals of the night. Not necessarily because of hype, but rather befuddlement. The ARK series is one that I know to be fairly popular, though perhaps I underestimated just how popular it was, given a sequel and animated series(!) announcement wound up being among the longest trailer reveals of the night. If you like dinosaurs and Vin Diesel, this likely made your night.

It Takes Two

From the developers of 2018’s A Way Out, a new co-op game with a bizarre tale, cartoonish visuals, and a flair for dramatics. It Takes Two seems to blend fairy tales, Little Big World, and co-op features to compliment a story about love and romance between people who seem bereft of it. By far one of the more energetic reveals of the night, it gave the impression that it would be a perky co-op game to play with friends and maybe laugh along with it. I thought most of the jokes were incredibly dull, but I was amused by the enthusiasm.

The Callisto Protocol

For those who miss Dead Space, the creator of Dead Space has heard your calls. The Callisto Protocol didn’t show much at the show, though it did feature a two-minute long trailer to get people immersed in the upcoming project. Allusions to Dead Space were obvious, and fans of the series will likely have 2022 circled on their currently non-existent calendars in wait for this title.

Callisto Protocol World Premiere at The Game Awards 2020

Season

With a smorgasbord of shooters, action games, and default dances, games that go against the grid and provide calmer tones end up appealing. Season is something that had a really nice aesthetic combined with a pleasing appeal for color, nature, and the world. It likely won’t be the gem of many gamers’ eyes, but I’m certain it will make its rounds among those who enjoy quieter expeditions.

Master Chief in Fortnite

I’m mostly just noting this for the random Red vs Blue cameo. Fortnite has shown that it can acquire just about any famous video game character it desires, so Master Chief as a skin, mere days after Kratos was revealed, is not too terribly surprising. What made this interesting(?) was calling back to an old chapter of the internet with one of the most popular webseries ever concocted. It was kind of neat to see, though also harbored a tinge of “How do you do, fellow millennials?”

The following is a full list of reveals from the 2020 Game Awards (excluding games mentioned above):

New Game/Content Reveals

  • Loop Hero
  • Tchia
  • Shady Part of Me
  • Century: Age of Ashes
  • New Perfect Dark game
  • Back 4 Blood
  • Forza Cyberpunk 2077 crossover
  • Open Roads
  • Endless Dungeon
  • Swedish Chef to Overcooked
  • Call of Duty Black Ops: Warzone Season One trailer
  • Evil Dead The Game
  • Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection
  • The Elder Scrolls Online: Gates of Oblivion
  • Among Us gets new map
  • New Mass Effect game
The Next Mass Effect - Official Teaser Trailer

New Trailer + Release Date Updates

  • Nier: Replicant ver.1.22474487139… gameplay reveal
  • Hood: Outlaws and Legends release date
  • Scavengers opens Closed Beta
  • Warhammer 40,000: Darktide gameplay reveal
  • New trailer for Dragon Age 4
  • Crimson Desert gameplay reveal
  • Fall Guys Season 3 trailer
  • New Outriders trailer
  • New Returnal trailer
  • Super Meat Boy Forever release date
  • Oddworld: Soulstorm release period
  • Scarlet Nexus release period
  • New Ruined King: A League of Legends Story trailer

Console Ports

Commercials

What better way to earn the trust of big-business executives and game publishers than to showcase some of their most profitable games? The 2020 Game Awards were mostly bereft of the mind-numbing advertisements that many would rather avoid, but the quantity grew steadily as the night wore on and the reveals lessened. Some commercials even dropped announcements that people could miss if they didn’t pay attention, such as the Yakuza Remastered Collection and 6 coming to PC and Xbox Game Pass in 2021, hidden within a space dedicated to promoting Xbox Game Pass. In general, the amount of commercials was a little staggering, and one in particular was very odd, indeed.

(Note: the version of this commercial shown during the Game Awards was about half the length.)

Wasn’t sure what to make of this, but it was certainly memorable.

To most reasonable people, they understand that the world is a business, games included. They’re aware that commercials and ads are necessary so that the effort is worth it in the end. One may not like it, but it’s a necessary truth in this world that money rules everything, and while some may understand that, others may be keen to tune out of the ceremony and look up the list of winners/reveals the next day. For future reference, it may be wise of the Game Awards to try and factor in the “Awards” part of its name more into broadcasts and less about the filler fluff of leading viewers elsewhere. Celebrities and musical performances can only do so much.

Conclusion

If you’re fond of looking at a wide variety of incoming games from developers of varying sizes (mostly medium-small to medium-large), this was a good show for you. The assortment of awards being swept by The Last of Us Part II, had you done research, was an unsurprising move that may have lessened the drama. There were some high(-ish) moments, but for the most part very few lows. It began and concluded in a similar manner: a comfortable complacency that was only interrupted occasionally by some interesting reveals, nice orchestral performances, and some sweet victory speeches. This is definitely an awards show for if you love games, not just specific types of games. It is also, admittedly, too corporate and bloated with commercial fluff to give it true sincerity in the hearts of gamers everywhere.

At this rate, the Game Awards will be what they always have been: a platform for publishers to showcase some neat stuff, with some trophies given to people for flavor. 2020 was no different, save the automated applause after every major announcement.

You can watch the full broadcast below:

The Game Awards 2020 Official Stream (4K) - Video Game's Biggest Night Live!
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