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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.

______________________________________________________________________

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 .

  • urishima
    Don't know about you guys, but even if I had money to spare, I would never give it to Tim Schafer.
    Reply
  • ErikVinoya
    Konami being a douche, what else is new?
    Reply
  • basroil
    Does konami even have a publicity team or were they all replaced with lawyers because of "creative differences"? Not letting Kojima go to the awards show is going to end up costing them millions.
    Reply
  • Albert Rampo
    the show was horrible it was awkward and unprofessional even the premiers were underwhelming and Jade Raymond my lord what was that she looked fking drunk or high no class
    and seriously battlefront live ads ...............................ridiculous i dont think theres any other word to describe this
    Reply
  • Dave K
    Glad to see Witcher 3 pick up the well deserved goty award... they raised the bar and Bethesda will need to do something they've not done for a while - scramble to catch up.
    Reply
  • jimmysmitty
    17066960 said:
    Glad to see Witcher 3 pick up the well deserved goty award... they raised the bar and Bethesda will need to do something they've not done for a while - scramble to catch up.

    While similar, TES and TW are still very different games. While TW3 is a open world you are still on a very set path and story while in TES you choose your characters beginning, middle and eventual end based on the factions and sides you pick etc.

    As well TES has always been about the mods more than anything.

    Not saying TW3 is a bad game, it is a great RPG. But to say Bethesda will have to do anything more than what they always do is a stretch since Skyrim is still highly played and highly modded even after so many years.

    I am glad they honored Westwood. Was a great company bought up by the evil empire and whose IP was completely destroyed. Sorry but C&C 4 was just bad. I own it because I got it in a bundle sale on Steam and played only for the story but the game play was not C&C. It was EAs horrible abomination.
    Reply
  • dstarr3
    Holy *MOD EDIT*, I assumed the Video Game Awards were going to be a joke. But Witcher 3 beat out Fallout and Metal Gear for Game of the Year, Rocket League won best sports game, and Splatoon won Best Shooter over Call of Duty and Halo. So cool! It's like the industry is finally becoming self-aware!
    Reply
  • clonazepam
    Did Bloodbourne get a mention, or too dark?
    Reply
  • Dave K
    17066960 said:
    Glad to see Witcher 3 pick up the well deserved goty award... they raised the bar and Bethesda will need to do something they've not done for a while - scramble to catch up.

    While similar, TES and TW are still very different games. While TW3 is a open world you are still on a very set path and story while in TES you choose your characters beginning, middle and eventual end based on the factions and sides you pick etc.

    As well TES has always been about the mods more than anything.

    Not saying TW3 is a bad game, it is a great RPG. But to say Bethesda will have to do anything more than what they always do is a stretch since Skyrim is still highly played and highly modded even after so many years.

    I am glad they honored Westwood. Was a great company bought up by the evil empire and whose IP was completely destroyed. Sorry but C&C 4 was just bad. I own it because I got it in a bundle sale on Steam and played only for the story but the game play was not C&C. It was EAs horrible abomination.

    In general I agree that they're different, but not as much as they used to be and I put them both squarely in the same sandbox (Adventure games with some action elements) allowing for fair comparison. They're also both 'open world' quest based games (that's new... this is imo the first open world Witcher) with significant/varied character development tracks. The biggest differences are setting (obviously) and the new settlement management capabilities in F4 (which are a fun addition but I don't see integrated into the plot in any way as of my current level... 24).

    As far as game progression... Fallout 4 has been as linear as Witcher 3 so far... the quest line leads you by the nose and at least as far into it as I am (about 40-50 hours) faction choices have had no impact on the flow of the main quest line. The main quest (find my kid) has had some good foreshadowing that all is not well with said kid and that things might get interesting... but the quests themselves have been inferior in quality and diversity to the Witcher 3 storyline, I'm feeling like I'm repeating the same activity (go clear some area of bad guys) over and over. The tactical variation has been great (some fun maps) but the quests themselves... meh. The detective story is cool, but all he did was drag me out to clear some area of bad guys. I started the BoS subquestline and that has also been more of the same so far (but in power armor). When interesting things have happened it's been accidental... like stumbling into a BoS action (totally independent of my activities) and jumping in to lend a hand (not that the quest system was smart enough to recognize it). The world also seems a lot less alive than the Witcher 3 world... I've only had to defend settlements 3 times, the Brotherhood of Steel is the only faction that's visible moving on the map (like everyone else is hunkered down). Maybe I just need to move the Main quest forward and things will loosen up (I got bored with it after finishing reunions), and I assume the main quest will eventually split based on faction like earlier Fallout's... but multiple highly linear quest lines is not really the same thing as non-linear. I've wandered the world quite a bit for instance... and the only 'discovered' quests I've gotten have been to clear raiders threatening settlements. Some of Witcher 3's best questlines were one's I stumbled on as I wandered. Maybe I'm just missing them in F4... but The Witcher had hundreds of non-main quest related activities you could engage in (some of them complex multi-stage quests)... I'm not finding a lot in Fallout 4 yet (other than Settlement building related).

    I still would argue that Bethesda has been beat soundly at a game style they pioneered... The Witcher 3 is a better Skyrim than Skyrim as delivered (and a better adventure game than Fallout 4 as delivered). Bethesda still has much better moding support... and that's not nothing, but when the next Witcher 3 add-on comes out I'll be dropping F4 to play it (assuming I'm still playing F4 at the time).

    I agree that Modding will give Fallout 4 more replayability... but I still think Bethesda has been clearly outplayed on their own turf and hopefully this will push them to up their game.
    Reply
  • jimmysmitty
    17067821 said:
    17066960 said:
    Glad to see Witcher 3 pick up the well deserved goty award... they raised the bar and Bethesda will need to do something they've not done for a while - scramble to catch up.

    While similar, TES and TW are still very different games. While TW3 is a open world you are still on a very set path and story while in TES you choose your characters beginning, middle and eventual end based on the factions and sides you pick etc.

    As well TES has always been about the mods more than anything.

    Not saying TW3 is a bad game, it is a great RPG. But to say Bethesda will have to do anything more than what they always do is a stretch since Skyrim is still highly played and highly modded even after so many years.

    I am glad they honored Westwood. Was a great company bought up by the evil empire and whose IP was completely destroyed. Sorry but C&C 4 was just bad. I own it because I got it in a bundle sale on Steam and played only for the story but the game play was not C&C. It was EAs horrible abomination.

    In general I agree that they're different, but not as much as they used to be and I put them both squarely in the same sandbox (Adventure games with some action elements) allowing for fair comparison. They're also both 'open world' quest based games (that's new... this is imo the first open world Witcher) with significant/varied character development tracks. The biggest differences are setting (obviously) and the new settlement management capabilities in F4 (which are a fun addition but I don't see integrated into the plot in any way as of my current level... 24).

    As far as game progression... Fallout 4 has been as linear as Witcher 3 so far... the quest line leads you by the nose and at least as far into it as I am (about 40-50 hours) faction choices have had no impact on the flow of the main quest line. The main quest (find my kid) has had some good foreshadowing that all is not well with said kid and that things might get interesting... but the quests themselves have been inferior in quality and diversity to the Witcher 3 storyline, I'm feeling like I'm repeating the same activity (go clear some area of bad guys) over and over. The tactical variation has been great (some fun maps) but the quests themselves... meh. The detective story is cool, but all he did was drag me out to clear some area of bad guys. I started the BoS subquestline and that has also been more of the same so far (but in power armor). When interesting things have happened it's been accidental... like stumbling into a BoS action (totally independent of my activities) and jumping in to lend a hand (not that the quest system was smart enough to recognize it). The world also seems a lot less alive than the Witcher 3 world... I've only had to defend settlements 3 times, the Brotherhood of Steel is the only faction that's visible moving on the map (like everyone else is hunkered down). Maybe I just need to move the Main quest forward and things will loosen up (I got bored with it after finishing reunions), and I assume the main quest will eventually split based on faction like earlier Fallout's... but multiple highly linear quest lines is not really the same thing as non-linear. I've wandered the world quite a bit for instance... and the only 'discovered' quests I've gotten have been to clear raiders threatening settlements. Some of Witcher 3's best questlines were one's I stumbled on as I wandered. Maybe I'm just missing them in F4... but The Witcher had hundreds of non-main quest related activities you could engage in (some of them complex multi-stage quests)... I'm not finding a lot in Fallout 4 yet (other than Settlement building related).

    I still would argue that Bethesda has been beat soundly at a game style they pioneered... The Witcher 3 is a better Skyrim than Skyrim as delivered (and a better adventure game than Fallout 4 as delivered). Bethesda still has much better moding support... and that's not nothing, but when the next Witcher 3 add-on comes out I'll be dropping F4 to play it (assuming I'm still playing F4 at the time).

    I agree that Modding will give Fallout 4 more replayability... but I still think Bethesda has been clearly outplayed on their own turf and hopefully this will push them to up their game.

    I wouldn't even compare FO4 to TW3 just due to the vastly different game play styles (one a fantasy setting, one a FPS/TPS RPG).

    Skyrim is a better and more fair comparison but again very different in a lot of respects while still the same. TES has a lot of different ways to go. Either you are the central character or you are not (Oblivion was a prime example where you were not the central character at all) and you have a lot of different choices to make that can affect the outcome.

    While I would say in a story driven RPG TW3 is better than Skyrim I think as a open world, do whatever you want game Skyrim is better and the mod support is very important. Go check the Steam game stats. Skyrim is currently 10 most played game. After being out for 4 years.

    Thats why I don't think Bethesda is going to have very many problems with TES 6. They should make it better for sure but I just don;t think TW3 made a dent in the popularity of TES.
    Reply