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The 2015 Game Awards: ‘The Witcher 3’ Wins Big, Westwood Studios Gets Recognition, Konami Prohibits Kojima’s Attendance

Before the year ends, the gaming industry comes together for one more celebration. In the past, you could see The Video Game Awards (or its various other nomenclatures) on Spike. Now, host Geoff Keighley has brought the annual show, called The Game Awards, online through Steam, Twitch and other websites. Of course, the show was full of awards, trailer reveals and cringe-worthy moments, but there were a few portions that stood out from the rest.

World Premiere

Those two words -- “world premiere” -- are why people tune in to the awards show every year. A few developers take some time to create a trailer and excite fans for upcoming titles for the coming year and beyond.

Telltale Games had its own versions of Game of Thrones, Minecraft and the Borderlandsgames this year. The developers’ combine these well-known titles with unique storytelling and give players their own story set in some of their favorite series. Next year, the Batman series will get the Telltale treatment. The team also returned to The Walking Dead series, this time featuring the katana-wielding Michonne. Her story debuts in February.

After a 24-hour stream of a cave painting on YouTube, Ubisoft revealed Far Cry Primal in early October. A new trailer at the show was titled “Beast Master,” and it showed the game’s protagonist, named Takkar, who is the last member of a hunting tribe. In addition to the spear and bow, he also has the ability to tame some of the wilderness’ most dangerous animals, such as a wolf, grizzly bear and the saber-toothed cat.

Psychonauts 2 was a genuine surprise. Double Fine founder Tim Schafer help reveal the game, and he announced that it would be a crowdfunded effort on the new funding platform Fig. The crowdfunding site is different in that it allows users to receive part of the game’s revenue if they are an “accredited investor” (have a net worth of over $1 million or make $200,000 for the past two years and expect to make the same amount or more in the current year) and invest a minimum of $1,000 to the game. The Psychonauts sequel requires $3.3 million before its deadline of January 7. An hour and a half after the show is over, the campaign has already raised over $440,000.

Oculus teased that it would have a special announcement at the show, and while we were all waiting for a potential announcement of a specific release date, Palmer Luckey showed something completely different. With Rock Band 4 only two months old, Oculus already provided VR support with a new experience appropriately called Rock Band VR, which is due sometime in 2016.

The sudden popularity of Rocket League, both on PC and the PS4, boosted the game into the gaming zeitgeist, and even spawning professional teams. However, Xbox One players were left out of the fun, but that changes in February as the car/soccer hybrid comes to the Xbox One in February. Additional bonuses include Gears of War- and Halo-themed cars.

Shadow Complex returned to the spotlight, not with a sequel, but with a remake. Shadow Complex Remastered is coming to the Xbox One and PS4 in early 2016, but PC gamers have a head start and can grab the game now. Even better, they can get the game for free throughout December.

And The Award Goes To…

As always, the awards winners are always up for debate. Aside from the usual “Best of” genre wins, there were a few new segments this year, mainly dealing with an individual person. The most notable one was Kinda Funny’s Greg Miller, who took home the Trending Gamer award. Optic Gaming won the eSports Team of the Year, while Kenny “Kennys” Schrub from Team EnVyUs took home the eSports Player of the Year for his performance in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.

Other worthwhile mentions include Rocket League, which won Best Independent Game and Best Sports/Racing Game. The Best Multiplayer title of the year went to Splatoon, and the Best Action/Adventure Game went to Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. (Although that came with some controversy. More on that in a moment.) The show even got its own awkward moment for awards when Motive Studios head Jade Raymond announced the Best Performance winner to Viva Seifert for the hit indie game Her Story, but Raymond accidentally mentioned the wrong game -- The Witcher 3.

Last year, Ken and Roberta Williams received special recognition in the form of the Industry Icon Award for their contribution in the games business with their founding of Sierra On-Line. This year, the award was given to Brett Sperry and Louis Castle, the founders of Westwood Studios. The duo were known not only for the Command and Conquerseries, but are credited for giving birth to the real-time strategy genre.

At the end of the day, Geralt’s world reigned supreme. CD Projekt RED took home the Developer of the Year award, and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt received the top accolade of Game of the Year.

Unforgettable Moments

When Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain won the Action/Adventure award, Kiefer Sutherland, the new voice of Snake, accepted the award on Hideo Kojima’s behalf. Keighley then told viewers why Kojima wasn’t in Los Angeles that evening to take the award.

“Mr. Kojima had every intention of being here, but unfortunately he was informed by a lawyer representing Konami that he would not be allowed to travel to tonight’s award ceremony to accept any awards,” he said. “He’s still under an employment contract and it’s disappointing, and it’s inconceivable to me that an artist like Hideo would not be allowed to come here and celebrate with his peers and his fellow teammates."

Obviously, this drew a series of boos from the crowd, and aside from the article published on The New Yorker in October, this is one of the more solid pieces of evidence we’ve had of a fallout between Kojima and his long-time publisher, Konami.

But before all that, the award show took some time to recognize the loss of one of the industry’s giants. Nintendo president and CEO Satoru Iwata passed away at the age of 55 due to a bile duct growth in July. Naturally, a portion of the show was set aside to pay tribute to the man and his accomplishments. Along with some words from Keighley, Nintendo of America head Reggie Fils-Aime also appeared and said a few words. The tribute to Iwata ended with a montage of pictures with music by Ben Harper.

Best One Yet

In the many years that Keighley has hosted the awards show, this one could be considered one of the best ones to date. It could be the variety of games presented, the noticeable lack of awkward moments (there were still some cringing scenes -- I’m looking at you, Bud Light and AMD/Star Wars Battlefront), or the fact the show was no longer held to the constraints of Spike TV and cable television. In any case, the show seemed to improve in quality compared to past years, and if it continues to stay the course, more people should be tuning in for next year’s show.

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Rexly Peñaflorida II is a Contributor at Tom’s Hardware. He writes news on tech and hardware, but mostly focuses on gaming news. As a Chicagoan, he believes that deep dish pizza is real pizza and ketchup should never be on hot dogs. Ever. Also, Portillo’s is amazing.

Follow Rexly Peñaflorida II @Heirdeux. Follow us on Facebook, Google+, RSS, Twitter and YouTube .