Skip to main content

The Game Awards delivered dazzling trailers, but winners played second-fiddle

If the goal of the modern awards show is to make “moments,” then The Game Awards 2022 certainly rose to the occasion — and then some. The Geoff Keighley-produced ceremony was among the show’s best overall efforts yet, packing in an excellent slate of reveals, some genuine surprises, and enough “WTF” moments to make headlines even at mainstream publications that don’t normally pay attention to the world of gaming.

While it may have been a particularly exciting show for fans and casual viewers, it was an uneven ceremony when it came to the actual awards. Rushed winner announcements and speeches took a back seat to flashy trailers over the course of the night. That certainly isn’t new for the nine-year-old show, which has built its reputation on providing E3-calibur announcements, but awards felt like a noticeably low priority during the broadcast.

THE GAME AWARDS 2022: Official 4K Livestream: Thursday, December 8 (7:30p ET/4:30p PT/12:30a GMT)

That dynamic made for a sometimes disappointing show that didn’t always feel like it functioned as an industry celebration. Instead, it was a night engineered for social engagement — something that wound up being its Achilles heel by the night’s bizarre finale.

The recap

If you tuned into The Game Awards 2022 just to see some new trailers, you likely walked away happy. Keighley was at his best as a curator this year, pulling together an impressive slew of trailers that somehow dodged leaks. A stunning Death Stranding 2 reveal and live appearance by creator Hideo Kojima created one of the show’s most hair-raising moments to date. I was in the Microsoft Theater for the ceremony, and the energy in the room was palpable; it felt historic.

That was far from the show’s only big “world premiere,” though. A fantastic Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon debut had attendees screaming, Hades 2 shocked the crowd, and Final Fantasy XVI made for a much stronger closing reveal than Fast & Furious Crossroads or an Unreal Engine 5 tech demo based on The Matrix series. Even Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, which had its release date unceremoniously leaked before the show, got a massive reaction. No announcement had its thunder stolen, allowing the show to feel like a “can’t miss” spectacle.


Though the show would eventually sag in its middle (an awkward Crash Bandicoot segment made for its lowest point), fans seemed satisfied overall. When Geoff Keighley put out a Twitter poll after the ceremony asking viewers to grade the broadcast, players overwhelmingly responded with A’s. If this was meant to be a night for fans, The Game Awards delivered.

If it was meant to be a night for developers, however, the ceremony left much to be desired. The night began promisingly enough with a large emphasis on the Best Performance award, presented by a rather confused Al Pacino. God of War Ragnarok‘s Christopher Judge won and proceeded to deliver an emotional (though awkwardly long) speech that made the trophy feel like an important honor.

That feeling didn’t last. An hour into the show, only a few statues were presented in between trailers. The winners that did wind up taking the stage to accept didn’t get much time to do so. From where I was seated, I could see the central teleprompter, which began flashing “wrap it up” messages almost instantaneously. A low point of the night came when Nintendo’s Doug Bowser came on stage to accept Best Action Game on behalf of Bayonetta 3. After giving a short introduction, he opened a prepared statement from developer PlatinumGames as the show flipped on music to nudge him offstage. It came off as a disrespectful moment for one of the show’s biggest categories.

God of War Ragnarok's Christopher Judge hugs Al Pacino at The Game Awards.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

The Game Awards generally seemed disinterested in handing out awards. Several categories were lumped into rapid-fire segments where five winners were called out in the span of a minute. The winners of those categories did not come on stage to accept their awards, nor was a second of footage from any game shown. If you’d never heard of Moss: Book 2 heading into the show, you certainly didn’t leave knowing anything about it. The final twist of that knife came towards the end, where Keighley rushed through half a dozen of the show’s biggest categories, like Best RPG and Best Independent Game, in an instant and just as quickly tossed to a trailer for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II‘s new content.

The tension lies in the Game Awards’ mission to be a show “for the fans,” something that feels a bit at odds with the idea of an awards ceremony. Sure, it’s not always exciting to watch developers go up on stage to thank their teams and families, but that’s not the point. Ceremonies like this are supposed to give the people who make art we love a moment to celebrate their wins. It’s an honor to get to see passionate, sincere moments like that — even when they run too long.

Ironically, the show’s lowest moments were debatably the result of the show’s emphasis on fans. The first revolved around this year’s controversial Players Choice category, which sparked a war between Sonic Frontiers and Genshin Impact fans. Both bases accused one another of trying to manipulate the show’s public poll, creating an ugly online discourse. Keighley acknowledged that during the show, noting that the team had to remove bots from the final results before announcing that Genshin Impact was victorious. The result elicited a wave of boos from the crowd, reducing the entire category to high school pettiness. Then there was the show’s bizarre finale.

A stage rusher calls out Bill Clinton during The Game Awards 2022.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

The ceremony ended with Elden Ring developer FromSoftware taking the stage to accept Game of the Year. At the tail end, one of the people on stage took the microphone to thank his “reformed Orthodox Rabbi Bill Clinton.” Viewers were understandably puzzled. It turned out that the culprit wasn’t a FromSoftware developer but a 15-year-old boy attending the show who simply walked up on stage alongside FromSoftware, evading any security. The whole situation left viewers to debate if it was a funny prank or an anti-Semitic dog whistle. Either way, it was an unnerving security risk that came with the show’s return to a public format.

It was an almost poetic ending: The show ended with a fan overshadowing the people who we were supposed to be celebrating.

Though The Game Awards 2022 delivered a better-paced show full of exciting announcements, it’s certainly worth rethinking who the ceremony is actually for heading into its tenth year. Until it does, “Bill Clinton kid” will be as symbolic a moment for the Game Awards as Josef Fares’ show-defining Oscars rant.

Editors' Recommendations

Giovanni Colantonio
Giovanni is a writer and video producer focusing on happenings in the video game industry. He has contributed stories to…
I played Resident Evil Village on an iPad and it blew me away
Resident Evil Village

Back when the Steam Deck was just a rumor (dubbed the Steam Pal), I had my fair share of skepticism. It’s not that I didn’t like the idea of a handheld computer; it just felt like a short-term solution. At that time, I posited that we were quickly approaching a time when phones and tablets would be able to run PC games natively, making devices like a Steam Deck feel like a pricey stopgap. I’ve been won over by Valve’s handheld since then, but my prophecy may be coming true sooner than I expected.

Apple dropped a bombshell announcement this month when it revealed that Assassin’s Creed Mirage and Resident Evil 4, two current-gen games, will be natively playable on the iPad and iPhone 15 Pro, alongside older titles like Death Stranding and Resident Evil Village. That announcement has the potential to radically shift the handheld gaming market if Apple is able to launch new games on its devices at the same time as consoles and PC. That is, if those games actually run well.

Read more
Horizon Forbidden West is the next PlayStation game to make its way to PC
Aloy swimming underwater.

PlayStation and Nixxes Software have confirmed that Horizon Forbidden West: Complete Edition will be the next PlayStation 5 first-party game to come to PC. While it's not releasing on PC until sometime next year, Horizon Forbidden West: Complete Edition will drop on PS5 first on October 6.

Over the past few years, several previously PlayStation console-exclusive titles have made their way to PC. Games that made the transition include God of War, Marvel's Spider-Man Remastered and Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection, Sackboy: A Big Adventure, Returnal, The Last of Us Part 1, and Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart. Horizon Forbidden West was first released for PS4 and PS5 in February 2022, and will make the jump to PC about two years after launch in early 2024. We don't know what technical improvements this PC port will have yet, but we do know that it'll be available across Steam and the Epic Games Store for $60.
Nixxes Software and Sony also confirmed that it would be the Complete Edition of the game that comes to PC. Announced alongside this port, Horizon Forbidden West: Complete Edition comes with the base game, April 2023's Burning Shores DLC, a digital soundtrack and art book, a special pose and face paint for photo mode, and additional in-game items like outfits, bows, slings, and resources. It launches on October 6, so that'll be the best time to jump in for PS5 players who have been waiting to get Horizon Forbidden West. 
Horizon Forbidden West Complete Edition - Announcement Trailer | PS5 Games
Horizon Forbidden West: Complete Edition releases for PS5 on October 6 and will come to Steam and the Epic Games Store sometime in early 2024.

Read more
Counter-Strike 2 is now available on Steam for free after surprise launch
A team groups up in Counter-Strike 2.

With little more than a slight tease beforehand, Valve just launched Counter-Strike 2 on Steam.
Counter-Strike 2 - Launch Trailer
Counter-Strike is Valve's long-running competitive multiplayer shooter series. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive has stayed near the top of Steam's player count charts ever since it launched in 2012. After over a decade of dominance, Valve first announced Counter-Strike 2 as a free, sequel-level upgrade to Global Offensive earlier this year. After some slight teases earlier in the month, Valve finally decided to surprise launch the game on September 27.
Counter-Strike 2 builds upon Global Offensive in Valve's newer Source 2 game engine. Outside of the obvious visual upgrades that change brings, Counter-Strike 2 adds to its predecessor with a new CS Rating system, overhauled maps, and tweaks to core mechanics like smoke grenades and the tick rate at which the first-person shooter operates. Valve also promises that the game features "upgraded Community Workshop tools," so we should get some entertaining Counter-Strike 2 mods.

Valve intends for players to smoothly transition from Global Offensive to Counter-Strike 2 as the game has simply updated to make the transition, and all items players obtained in the former work in the latter. Hopefully, this approach works out better for Valve than it did for Blizzard with Overwatch 2 last year. 
Counter-Strike 2 is available now on PC via Steam. It's a free-to-play game, although players can buy a Prime Status Upgrade for $15 that grants buyers the titular moniker. Having Prime Status grants exclusive items, item drops, and weapon cases and makes the game more likely to matchmake you with other Prime Status Counter-Strike 2 players.

Read more