The Game Awards features 24 game-related categories — and even that doesn’t feel like enough every time nominees are announced. Indies and more experimental games are often overlooked as the current categories reward the biggest AAA action-focused titles. Geoff Keighley has stated that he constantly assesses which award categories should be present at The Game Awards, but the only major addition recently was Best Game Adaptation in 2022.
There are entire genres and types of games that can feel ignored every year during The Game Awards. This year, we decided to come up with a few new categories of our own, highlight some potential nominees that we think would be worth nominating for these categories if they were to have existed this year, and explain why each category deserves to be added to the Game Awards.
- The Talos Principle 2
- Chants of Sennaar
Given how many puzzle games there are, I’m genuinely surprised that the closest The Game Awards’ categories get to acknowledging them is a mention of “combining combat with traversal and puzzle solving” in the Best Action-Adventure Game description. The absence of a Best Puzzle Game category at The Game Awards this year particularly stings because 2023 has been such a fantastic year for the genre. There are so many wonderful and satisfying puzzle game experiences from this year alone that are worthy of praise. While many of the ones we chose on our list appear in other categories this year, they are all also games that only appeared once or twice in very specific, more indie-friendly categories. A title like Chants of Sennaar would get the love it deserves in a category like Best Puzzle Game rather than Games for Impact.
- Resident Evil 4
- The Making of Karateka
- Dead Space
- Metroid Prime Remastered
- Star Ocean: Second Story R
A remake of Resident Evil 4 is nominated for Game of the Year; that alone is already an indication that remakes and remasters deserve their own category, just like Best Adaptation. Plenty of standout recreations of classic games launch every year, and sometimes the work needed to create a fantastic remake or remaster isn’t really applicable in other categories. This year, that’s demonstrated the clearest with Digital Eclipse’s The Making of Karateka. Its playable documentary setup allows players to experience the process of game development iteration themselves, offering more insight into a highly influential game. Unfortunately, The Game Awards’ categories just aren’t structured to have a home for a game like this. A Best Remake/Remaster category could change that.
- Hi-Fi Rush
- Theatrhythm Final Bar Line
- Rhythm Sprout
At present, music games don’t really have much space to shine at The Game Awards — and that should change. Rhythm games are entertaining experiences that can test player awareness and response times as much as a fire-person shooter does. Plus, the best ones have amazing soundtracks. Of the five we listed, this is definitely the most niche and probably the least likely to happen, especially when there are already two audio-focused categories at The Game Awards. Regardless, 2023’s awesome rhythm game lineup (led by the excellent Hi-Fi Rush) still demonstrated that most game genres are deserving of more recognition than they currently get at The Game Awards, which tends to elevate action-focused AAA titles.
- Alan Wake 2
- Resident Evil 4
- Dead Space
- Paranormasight: The Seven Mysteries of Honjo
Yet another dedicated genre that could use a dedicated category is Horror. Admittedly, this year was a fantastic one for horror, so games already plentifully represented in the nominations like Alan Wake 2, Resident Evil 4, Dead Space, and Dredge likely would’ve populated this list. However, plenty of other games could occupy that final slot, from Amnesia: The Bunker to Paranormasight: The Seven Mysteries of Honjo. As was the case with the puzzle genre, horror is also a place where indie games tend to shine. Viral horror indies like Five Nights at Freddy’s or My Friendly Neighborhood typically don’t have any sort of place at The Game Awards, a dedicated horror category could give it one, especially in years where there aren’t as many AAA horror games.
- Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty
- Xenoblade Chronicles 3: Future Redeemed
- Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores
- Cities Sleeper Episode: Purge
- Dead Cells: Return to Castlevania
Best Ongoing Game and Best Community Support are meant to be the awards covering any potential DLC release throughout the year. That said, there are also awards that almost always go to the same popular live service games that frequently update. By being a bit more specific with a Best DLC award, The Game Awards could create a space for amazing DLC like Dead Cells: Return to Castlevania and Xenoblade Chronicles 3: Future Redeemed that aren’t able to break through to other categories like Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty did. It might seem to be redundant to have three awards dedicated to post-launch support, but something like Best DLC would feel a lot clearer in terms of what can qualify and give smaller DLCs that can’t compete with the likes of Fortnite or Final Fantasy XIV a fighting chance.