The Best Argument Against Community-Driven Awards Is The Steam Awards, Oddly Enough

The Best Argument Against Community-Driven Awards Is The Steam Awards, Oddly Enough
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The recently passed Game Awards left some scratching their heads at some of the winners that walked away with acclaims for interesting awards.  Destiny 2 received Best Community Support despite them going MIA after launch when everyone was trying to get the title to work as advertised, then releasing DLC’s that simply didn’t match up to fans expectations of the series.  Twitter and Reddit alike began lighting up with confused expressions during the Game Awards show, and the resounding cry was clear: ‘Who voted for this?’

Never fear, as the Steam Awards gave all of the power to the community to vote for any game they wished, in multiple categories.  While the titles voted for were locked to games released in 2019, excluding the ‘Labor of Love’ award which is open to any title on the platform, the resulting nominees for each category are…interesting choices in some categories, at best.  The Steam Awards almost appear to be more of a popularity contest of titles; whichever the most played title is, is most likely to receive votes, leaving many arguably better nominees out in the cold.

Not all awards have confusing nominees, however; many awards have seemingly competent contenders vying for the title, with Sekiro, Devil May Cry 5, and Resident Evil 2 all competing for the Game of the Year.

Other categories are a bit befuddling in nominations; the Labor of Love award sees Grand Theft Auto 5 in contention, which is a very popular game, to bee fair.  However, all of the single-player DLC plans were scrapped the moment the development studio Rockstar saw how much money could be made in microtransactions online.  Everything except microtransactions was scrapped, and publisher Take-Two infamously stated in a shareholders meeting that they’ll never publish another game without microtransactions in the future.

It bodes poorly for consumers, especially considering that Take-Two is behind hits such as Civilization, but money is frankly the driving force behind all production.  So to see such titles competing against Warframe, and that Path of Exile isn’t even in the running despite how much content they add every year, is confusing at best.

The Most Innovative Gameplay award sees Planet Zoo as a contender, along with My Friend Pedro.  Both good games in their own right, and Steam’s review system agrees, yet the gameplay shown in both titles are arguably less than innovative as Baba is You, or Slay the Spire.

Slay the Spire’s unique card-based combat actually set the groundwork for a gigantic slew of games that focus on combat being decided by card decks that you curate as you progress; not that it hasn’t been done before, but it was done so well that it began to spawn its own genre, much like Dark Souls did.

Finally, the 2019 nominees for Outstanding Story-Rich Game is perhaps the most bizarre.  It features Far Cry New Dawn, a reskin of Far Cry 5 that hammers more tropes than TV Tropes could possibly hope to explain to users, and Gears 5 that has struggled desperately to carry the boisterous name set for itself by its near-impeccable predecessors.

It’s fantastic that Valve offers its community an opportunity to have their own awards, to celebrate the greatness of gaming in their unique way far from the critics that so often stomp the enthusiasm for indie games.  It’s also befuddling that some titles have made an appearance, based on the Steam community’s own reviews.  Perhaps giving all of the power to the people is best on paper.