The problem with publicly voted video game awards is that a straight popularity contest overwhelmingly favours games with large marketing budgets and online communities. That's why there are few surprises among the winners of this year's Steam Awards, which were announced today.
Here's the complete list of winners:
- Game Of The Year: Elden Ring
- VR Game Of The Year: Hitman 3
- Labor Of Love: Cyberpunk 2077
- Better With Friends: Raft
- Outstanding Visual Style: Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales
- Most Innovative Gameplay: Stray
- Best Game You Suck At: Elden Ring
- Best Soundtrack: Final Fantasy VII Remake Entergrade
- Outstanding Story-Rich Game: God Of War
- Sit Back And Relax: Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga
- Best Game On The Go: Death Stranding Director's Cut
This is, I think, the most boring list imaginable. It's not that they're bad games - they're not! - but they're the most obvious blockbusters imaginable. Four of them are former PlayStation exclusives! Only three of these 11 awards have gone to games first released in 2022! Was Stray's "innovative gameplay" that it gave the cat a gun?
I mean, I love Death Stranding, but the "on the go" category was added in respect of the Steam Deck's launch. Is Death Stranding really the best "on the go" game for the Steam Deck, or is it just a good game that folks have heard of and popular Twitter accounts promoted the vote?
The best end-of-year awards celebrate not just the blockbusters, but all the oddities, one-offs, and surprises that make PC gaming so exciting. Naturally I think RPS's favourite games of 2022 do that. I reckon you could put together a public vote that does the same, either with careful editorialising of award categories or some weighting of votes. Alas!
You can head over to the Steam Awards site for a list of winners that also includes some runners-up, in which you might find some slightly more interesting games. Scorn, Bendy And The Dark Revival, Cult Of The Lamb and Kena Bridge Of Spirits were all runners-up for the "outstanding visual style" category, for example. Alternatively you can check out Steam's list of 2022's top selling games, which they have confusingly also called the "best of 2022".
Of course, publicly-voted awards can also produce more interesting results if you only poll a small, specific, weirdo portion of the public.