The Game Awards

The Game Awards is an annual awards ceremony honoring achievements in the video game industry. Established in 2014, the shows are produced and hosted by game journalist Geoff Keighley, who worked on its predecessor, the Spike Video Game Awards, for over ten years.[1] In addition to the awards, The Game Awards also feature premieres of new games and in-depth looks at previously announced ones.

The Game Awards
The Game Awards logo 2020.svg
Awarded forOutstanding achievements in the video game industry
VenueMicrosoft Theater
CountryUnited States
Hosted byGeoff Keighley
First awardedDecember 5, 2014; 7 years ago (2014-12-05)


In 1994, Canadian games journalist Geoff Keighley had been part of the first televised awards show for video games, Cybermania '94: The Ultimate Gamer Awards. Keighley, as a teenager, had been brought on to help write material for the celebrity hosts such as William Shatner and Leslie Nielsen. The show was not considered successful, aimed more for comedy than celebration, but he had been prompted from it to develop something akin to the Academy Awards for video games later in his career.[2]

Keighley had subsequently worked on the Spike Video Game Awards (VGA), which ran from 2003 to 2013. The show was broadcast on Spike TV near the end of each calendar year, and was designed to honor video games released during that year. Keighley served as the producer and often host for these shows. While the network had shown strong support for the award show through 2012, having brought Samuel L. Jackson to host the show, Keighley found Spike less interested in pursuing the 2013 show, partially due to the network seeking less male-oriented programming.[3] Spike opted to rename the awards from VGA to VGX as to reflect that they wanted to focus more on next-generation games that were being ushered in by the onset of the eighth generation of consoles, as well as bringing comedian Joel McHale to co-host alongside Keighley.[4] Additionally, the show was reduced to a one-hour presentation, which was first streamed online before airing on television.[3] The 2013 show was considered to be disappointing and aimed as a more commercial work rather than a celebration of video game achievements.[5] Keighley was disappointed with the change in tone that this show has presented.[2] Spike offered to continue the show in 2014, but would be limited to streaming media rather than broadcast.[3] Keighley opted to drop out from further involvement in the VGX, allowing Spike to retain ownership of the property; in November 2014, Spike TV announced that they had opted to drop the awards show in its entirety.[6]

Keighley worked with several entities within the industry, including console hardware manufacturers Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo, and several large publishers, to financially back and craft a new awards show, the Game Awards, with Spike's permission.[7] He invested around US$1 million of his own personal funds to support the new show,[3] and was able to secure space at The AXIS theater in Las Vegas for hosting the live event. Without a broadcaster, Keighley and the other producers agreed to live stream the show on the consoles' networks and on Valve's Steam service to be able to reach a much larger audience than Spike TV previously had.[6]

Since the 2014 show, Keighley has been able to secure the larger Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles to host the event. He has worked to partner with multiple streaming services around the globe for the show, which has been a move appreciated by several of the Game Awards' partners since the show's inception.[8] Keighley has been approached by broadcast networks offering to air the show, but he had refused these offers, allowing them to keep the freedom of how they present and structure the show.[9] The 2019 show included a simulcast in partnership with Sony Pictures for select Cinemark movie theaters throughout the United States.[10] The Game Awards 2020 was not held in a live theater due to the COVID-19 pandemic and was instead hosted virtually.[11] The 2021 show was held live again at the Microsoft Theater with a reduced audience due to ongoing COVID-19 precautions.[12]

An illustration of the award statuette, designed by Keighley and Weta Workshop

Keighley considered it important that the Game Awards are aimed to favorably present the interest of gamers and the industry at large, as well as being welcoming to celebrities and others that have shown interest in video games.[8] While the Game Awards are principally an awards show, Keighley knew the importance of having additional content, having seen other experiments of video game awards shows that were only dedicated to awards fail due to lack of audience.[13] Keighley believed that the Game Awards should fall somewhere between the entertainment venues that are used for the Academy Awards and the standard award presentation used for the Game Developers Choice Awards, and wanted a balance of material.[8] Through the Spike VGX and into the Game Awards, Keighley has engaged with games studios to bring reveals of new games alongside the awards. He considers the crowning moment of this approach was being able to secure the first gameplay reveal of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild at The Game Awards 2014.[13] Keighly encourages game studios to provide any content that might be deemed exciting or that can pique interest, even if these games are at an early stage of development, and then makes the selection of which games and trailers to feature.[13] Keighley subsequently works with those studios about how to best position their trailers to have the most impact; for example, in the 2018 show, he and Nintendo worked on a trailer reveal for the Persona 5 character Joker in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate that appeared to start as a teaser for a new game in the series.[14][15]

Since the show's launch, Keighley has solicited input from fans on how to improve the show, typically while at trade shows and conventions in months ahead of the show. For 2020, with the COVID-19 pandemic causing cancellations of many of these events, Keighley invited about one hundred fans to private chats with himself and other top organizers of the program to help solicit their input.[16]

In conjunction with award presentations, several digital storefronts, such as Steam, Xbox Games Store, Nintendo eShop, and PlayStation Store, offer the nominated games on sale leading up to and a few days after the event.[17] The statuette awarded to the selected games was designed by collaboration between Keighley and Weta Workshop. It is meant to represent "the evolution of the video game medium by way of an angel that ascends through digital building blocks".[18][19]


The Game Awards has an advisory committee which includes representatives from hardware manufacturers Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo, and AMD, along with several game publishers. This committee selects around thirty influential video game news organizations that are able to nominate and subsequently vote on the video games in several categories. The advisory committee otherwise does not participate in the nomination or voting process. During the nomination round, each of the news outlets provides a list of games in several categories; games for the esports-related categories are chosen by a specific subset of these outlets. The committee compiles the nominations and selects the most-nominated games for voting by these same outlets.[20] Prior to 2017, there were 28 industry experts and representatives that selected the winners, while the awards from 2017 onwards have used over 50 such experts.[21] In 2019, non-English media publications were added to the jury.[22] Winners are determined by a blended vote between the voting jury (90%) and public fan voting (10%) via social media.[23]

Generally, only games released before a specific date in November are eligible for being nominated in the year's awards. As the jury must make their nominations in the weeks prior to this date, this may leave some anticipated games that are scheduled for release just before that date to be underrepresented in the nominations, since the jury must go by pre-release review copies and not the final version.[24]

List of ceremoniesEdit

Event Date Game of the Year Venue Viewers
2014 December 5 Dragon Age: Inquisition The AXIS (Las Vegas) 1.9[25]
2015 December 3 The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Microsoft Theater (Los Angeles) 2.3[25]
2016 December 1 Overwatch 3.8[26]
2017 December 7 The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 11.5[27]
2018 December 6 God of War 26.2[28]
2019 December 12 Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice 45.2[29]
2020 December 10 The Last of Us Part II Virtual event[a] 83[30]
2021 December 9 It Takes Two Microsoft Theater (Los Angeles) 85[31]
2022 December 8[32] TBD TBD


  1. ^ Held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


  1. ^ Takahashi, Dean (November 10, 2014). "Geoff Keighley unveils The Game Awards 2014 to replace the VGAs". Venture Beat. Retrieved November 29, 2014.
  2. ^ a b Martens, Todd (December 6, 2017). "Geoff Keighley's lifelong obsession to create a video game Oscars". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 6, 2017.
  3. ^ a b c d Wingfield, Nick (November 8, 2015). "Video Game Awards Go Independent and Online". The New York Times. Retrieved January 20, 2020.
  4. ^ Sarkar, Samit (November 15, 2013). "Spike Video Game Awards renamed VGX, set for Dec. 7". Polygon. Retrieved December 6, 2016.
  5. ^ Good, Owen (December 8, 2013). "Gamers Care More About the VGX Than the Show Did. That's the Problem". Kotaku. Retrieved December 6, 2016.
  6. ^ a b Graser, Marc (November 10, 2014). "Videogame Industry Rallies Around First 'Game Awards'". Variety. Retrieved December 2, 2016.
  7. ^ Schreier, Jason (November 10, 2014). "There's A Big New Game Award Show Happening This December". Kotaku. Retrieved December 6, 2014.
  8. ^ a b c Takahashi, Dean (December 6, 2017). "The Game Awards balances revelations, gamer culture, and celebrities". Venture Beat. Retrieved December 6, 2017.
  9. ^ Valentine, Rebekah (December 6, 2018). "Seeing the past and future of gaming through The Game Awards". Retrieved December 6, 2018.
  10. ^ Spangler, Todd (November 14, 2019). "Game Awards 2019 to Play on 53 Cinemark Screens Alongside 'Jumanji: The Next Level'". Variety. Retrieved November 14, 2019.
  11. ^ Watts, Steve (August 24, 2020). "The Game Awards 2020 Still Moving Forward". GameSpot. Retrieved August 24, 2020.
  12. ^ Clayton, Natalie (June 10, 2021). "The Game Awards will be held in front of a live audience this year". PC Gamer. Retrieved June 10, 2021.
  13. ^ a b c Schreier, Jason (November 30, 2017). "How Video Games' Biggest Award Show Comes Together". Kotaku. Retrieved November 30, 2017.
  14. ^ Schreier, Jason (December 13, 2018). "How The Game Awards' Big Announcements Came Together". Kotaku. Retrieved December 13, 2018.
  15. ^ Hester, Blake (December 11, 2018). "The making of The Game Awards 2018". Polygon. Retrieved December 13, 2018.
  16. ^ Stedman, Alex (November 25, 2020). "How The Game Awards' Fans Helped Build This Year's Ceremony". Variety. Retrieved November 25, 2020.
  17. ^ Saed, Sherif (December 7, 2017). "Xbox One stealth sale has great prices on FIFA 18, Call of Duty: WW2, Shadow of War, much more". VG247. Retrieved December 7, 2017.
  18. ^ "About the Game Awards". The Game Awards. Archived from the original on December 3, 2017. Retrieved December 3, 2017.
  19. ^ The Game Awards 2016 - Behind the Scenes at WETA!. The Game Awards. November 20, 2016. Retrieved December 3, 2017.
  20. ^ "The Game Awards – Rules and Voting". The Game Awards. Archived from the original on December 1, 2016. Retrieved December 1, 2016.
  21. ^ Spangler, Todd (November 10, 2017). "2017 Game Awards Expands Distribution, Adds Fan Voting via Google Search, Twitter, Facebook". Variety. Retrieved November 10, 2017.
  22. ^ "Voting Jury | The Game Awards". Voting Jury | The Game Awards. Retrieved November 23, 2019.
  23. ^ "FAQ | The Game Awards". FAQ | The Game Awards. Retrieved November 23, 2019.
  24. ^ Carpenter, Nicole (November 18, 2020). "Why some of 2020's big games didn't get Game Awards nominations". Polygon. Retrieved November 19, 2020.
  25. ^ a b Crecente, Brian (December 6, 2016). "The Game Awards audience up 65 percent to 3.8M". Polygon. Retrieved December 13, 2017.
  26. ^ Crecente, Brian (December 6, 2016). "The Game Awards audience up 65 percent to 3.8M". Polygon. Retrieved December 6, 2016.
  27. ^ Crecente, Brian (December 12, 2017). "The Game Awards Audience Triples to 11.5 Million Livestreams in 2017". Glixel. Retrieved December 12, 2017.
  28. ^ Takahashi, Dean (December 12, 2018). "The Game Awards doubles viewership to 26 million livestreams". Venture Beat. Retrieved December 12, 2018.
  29. ^ Stedman, Alex (December 18, 2019). "Geoff Keighley Looks to The Game Awards' Future as 2019 Show Delivers Record Numbers". Variety. Retrieved December 18, 2019.
  30. ^ Stedman, Alex (December 17, 2020). "The Game Awards 2020 Show Hits Record Viewership With 83 Million Livestreams". Variety. Retrieved December 17, 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  31. ^ Beresford, Trilby (December 20, 2021). "The Game Awards Claims High of 85M Views". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved December 20, 2021.
  32. ^ Romano, Sal. "The Game Awards 2022 set for December 8". Gematsu. Retrieved August 22, 2022.

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