It’s that time of year again, where the industry gathers with bated breath to find out who the winners are of the most prestigious, high-budget awards of the year. That’s right - it’s time for the VG247 Alternate Game Awards yet again.
This year has genuinely been a great year for actual video games, even if it’s been a pretty rough year in other ways - developers being treated poorly, revelations about terrible people who somehow are still in the industry when they definitely should never work again, and all that stuff. Basically, it’s been a weird year.
But we embrace the weird. Here’s our 2021 Game Awards. When you’re done, why not check out 2020’s lucky winners?
Biggest W - The Strikers, Quitters, and everyone fighting to make the Industry better
As we mentioned in the intro, this year has seen some pretty great video games released, but also some pretty hideous revelations about the state of the industry. We’ve heard stories of abuse of employees, unfair terminations, and seen some people in power circle wagons and protect those responsible despite overwhelming evidence.
All of this is pretty sad. But, also, there’s a bright spot in all of this: those who are rising up and using any power they can to attempt to force change. They’ve called for resignations of those responsible, gone on strike, or even quit their jobs in solidarity with their colleagues. Doing this stuff requires tremendous bravery.
These people are, bit by bit, making a difference. They’re also marking themselves out as the real future of this industry - the people who will lead us to a better, fairer future. They’re the brightest spot of this year - even if their actions shouldn’t be necessary.
We can’t wait for this game to be released - Battlefield 2042
Battlefield 2042 looks pretty damn good, doesn’t it? It’s cool to see DICE focusing on what makes the series what it is, dedicating all their resources to crafting a balanced, bombastic, large-scale multiplayer experience. Sure, the beta that was released on November 19th is extremely rough. It’s more like an alpha than a beta, even - packed with bugs and jokingly referred to as ‘Battlefield 20-42 fps’ by more than a few people. But we can see there’s a really great game in there, and weeding out problems like that is exactly what beta releases are for.
We can’t wait for the finished game to be released - it’s definitely one of our most hotly-anticipated upcoming games. Here’s hoping DICE fixes all the issues before it’s released to the public at large.
Best Unintentional Eye Test - Final Fantasy Pixel Remaster
Who needs to go to the optician and look at those dumb tests with all those projected numbers on the screen when you have the Final Fantasy Pixel Remaster releases? These versions of the first six Final Fantasy games finally understand that people want to play these brilliant titles with the classic pixel graphics - but trades off by featuring an awful condensed Latin character front that is ugly at best and squint-inducingly difficult to read at worst.
I mean, honestly, why do this? Who made this decision? Thankfully, the internet was on the case with mods to fix the fonts pretty damn quickly. Between the font and the baffling decision to cut content from certain versions of the game, these games somehow dodged what should’ve been the slam dunk of releasing definitive versions of a bunch of the best games ever made. They’re still pretty good, though.
Best Reputation Reversal - BioWare & Mass Effect
After Anthem and Mass Effect Andromeda, it’s fair to say that BioWare was out on its arse. That’s perhaps less true for the Dragon Age team, but even they appear to have had their own struggles, with several key staff departures. For a while, we wondered if BioWare might be headed the way of Westwood, and Pandemic, and all those other poor victims of EA’s strong track record of acquiring and then expiring good studios.
BioWare had an ace up its sleeve, though: three of the most beloved games ever released. And so we got Mass Effect Legendary Edition, a pretty rudimentary re-release that nevertheless seemed to absolve BioWare of all past sins - even making some reconsider and re-evaluate Andromeda. This sort of get out of jail free card rarely works more than once, though - so BioWare now needs to make sure that Dragon Age 4 and the next Mass Effect both absolutely slap. Fingers crossed they nail it…
The band-aid over a gunshot wound award - Balan Wonderworld Day 1 Patch
“The Day 1 Patch ... enhances the overall play experience.”
I mean, if it does, who knows what the developers shipped on the disc. The patch does successfully remove a sequence that could be seriously dangerous to suffers of epilepsy, though. That's a win. The game itself...? Not so much.
Most use of a Journalist's Name by an interviewee in an Interview - FIFA 22 & Eurogamer’s Wes
The reality, Wes, is what I really want to do is patronize you and humanize ourselves, preferably at the same time. I’m not the spokesperson of a monolith corporation facing questions about some arguably predatory business practices - we’re just mates, having a chat down the pub. We’re just talking shop, putting the world to rights. I enjoy the dialogue Wes, I really do. I like the back and forth. The other really important thing is that I even took the time to learn your name, Wes.
Loot boxes? Never heard of ‘em, Wes. Gambling? Oh, never, never. It’s all in good fun. Some people might overspend, even children. But we all make mistakes, Wes.
I will say one more thing, Wes: next year, we definitely won’t give you another award. So enjoy this one. It’s a one-off.
Dumbest Trend - All this NFT Bullshit
This NFT stuff was easy enough to ignore when it was just a bunch of closeted furries running around with monkey avatars, but now the inevitable has happened - people have smelled the potential money and many game publishers are now starting to investigate the phoenomoenon, or worse, begun calling it “the future of this industry”.
Maybe there’s a role for this technology that doesn’t involve increasing the rate at which we boil the planet under our feet. Maybe. But let’s not see this gold rush for anything other than it is: unbridled greed, and for the most part quite stupid.
The "Wow, that's great" for 5 Minutes Award - Flight Simulator
If you are someone who really got into Flight Simulator (Xbox version released this year), then great. It's undoubtedly a brilliant game for people who are into flying planes. Congrats to Asobo Studio for a wonderful achievement that deserves all the plaudits.
However, how many people downloaded the colossally-sized game only to tinker about for five minutes and then never play it again? "Ooh, that's my house," "wow, the clouds look amazing," "what happens if I fly into that mountain…" "I can't believe a console game looks this good!" We don't have hard data to back this up, but we suspect few games released this year had such a high bounce rate as Flight Simulator on Xbox.
Who knew that planes were such complicated things?
The Edward Snowden Award for Leaks - Nvidia GeForce Now
Usually the contenders for the biggest leakers of the year are dickhead YouTubers looking for clout by revealing a game is in production a few months early, but this year there’s a new chief leaker in town: graphics hardware powerhouse Nvidia.
Somehow, Nvidia left GeForce Now’s database relatively open, and some web developer found their way to access information on the 18,000 games in the database… including a bunch of stuff that hasn’t been announced from practically every major publisher. It was such a catastrophic leak that Nvidia had to get out in front of it, issuing a statement saying that the list contained “both released and/or speculative titles,” suggesting that not everything featured there was actually real.
But then stuff started to happen. An ActRaiser remake, listed in the leak, was announced and released. Then likewise for a remake of Destroy All Humans 2, GTA Remastered Trilogy, and God of War’s PC port. So, it’s looking more and more real.
It’s a monumental leak. From Sony, it featured many PlayStation games coming to PC, including Demon’s Souls and Gran Turismo 7. From Square Enix, a Final Fantasy 9 Remake, remasters of Chrono Cross and Final Fantasy Tactics. Take Two has XCOM 3 and a new BioShock. Sega has Total War 9 and SMT5 coming to PC. Capcom? How about Dragon’s Dogma 2, Monster Hunter 6, Street Fighter 6, and Resident Evil 4 Remake? The rest goes on and on. It’s a wikileaks level list. The question is, will whoever is responsible for this now have to go hide out and seek asylum in Russia?
Damn it, Why Weren't you as Big as Pokemon Go - The Witcher: Monster Slayer
The Witcher: Monster Slayer is a good idea on paper. Your quest objectives are a real-life walk away, sending you on a proper adventure just like Gerry. That’s fun when you live near the dense primeval forests of Poland; it’s less good when the striga you’re tracking is in the car park of the block of flats across the road.
Sometimes in our steadfast commitment to bring you the best video game coverage in the universe, our lives are placed in mortal peril, just like real journalists.
Hot on the sculpted, rocky tail of the Gargoyle King, we not only had to loiter awkwardly close to the crowded seating area of a fish and chip shop during the lunchtime rush, but venture PERILOUSLY close to the middle-aged bloke that stands in the park doing stretches, pasty and shirtless come rain or shine, who waits like a pink Shelob to trap unfortunate passersby in uncomfortable conversation.
Never say we’re not dedicated to our craft.
Best Performance - David Cage
Story-driven game developer Quantic Dream has had a rough old time of it of late, spending time fighting a costly battle in French court as part of a defamation lawsuit against two French publications that published damning claims about the studio’s atmosphere and culture.
The various testimony made during this case is a real gold mine, including a tense war of words between Quantic Dream representatives and ex-employees, attacks on the French media, and general high drama. Reports from French outlet Solidaires Informatique claim studio lead David Cage cried, stomped his feet, and screamed about his honour on the stand before storming out of the courtroom. If true, these reports suggest Cage might well be primed to take on an actor-director role in the studio’s next project. Hopefully he’s been brushing up on his lightsaber skills.
We can’t let this one pass without giving a shout out to Quantic Dream CEO Guillaume de Fondaumière, too. According to the same report from Solidaires Infomatique, when looking for direction in his testimony, Fondaumière allegedly looked to the judges and asked, “I’m not under oath, so can I lie?” Which is a pretty amazing thing to ask in the middle of court.
Quantic Dream founders Guillaume de Fondaumière and David Cage went on to win their case against Le Monde, but the company lost its case against Mediapart.
The Jeff Bezos award for unbridled capitalism - New World Gold Exploiters
In a fantasy land filled with opportunity and adventure, everyone always thinks they’re going to be the rugged individuals that come out on top. But really, we’re all the kind of goobers that would get scammed out of our magic jewels, tricorn hats and britches faster than Rockstar yanked the PC version of GTA Trilogy from sale.
Thank you then to the New World Gold exploiters for reminding us of that inescapable fact. Turns out you could manipulate your internet connection to trick Amazon Games’ server into thinking cancelled trades had gone through and duplicate any money involved, effectively ruining the game’s economy for everyone else.
Exploiting vulnerable loopholes to hoard vast amounts of cash for yourself? Hmmm, why does that sound familiar?