Game Awards 2015: Predicting the Winners

the-game-awards-2015Tomorrow night is the Second official Game Awards, the reconstitution of what the Spike Video Game Awards bastardized for so many years – an industry lead award show that celebrates a year in gaming, akin to the Oscars, Emmys, and other medium specific award shows. We may not agree with every nomination – as with many other industry award shows, the Game Awards seems to take popularity into account more in its nominations than perhaps other critical measures – yet it is still a far better event than its gross mountain dew fueled cable ancestors.

It is in anticipation of the event, therefore, that I want to give some predictions of who I think will win the awards. These are not who I feel SHOULD win (ie. my own personal opinion). In truth, my game of the year is not even nominated in the category. No, this is a list of assumptions. I have licked my finger and stuck it in the air, and based on where I think the wind is blowing, I will attempt to predict tomorrow nights results. I am only going to be listing potential winners for the jury voted categories. I don’t really have any interest in the fan’s choice awards due to my lack of emotional compassion for the feelings of the mob.

Without further ado:

Developer of the Year:

  • Bethesda Game Studios
  • CD Projekt Red
  • From Software
  • Kojima Productions
  • Nintendo

Winner: Kojima Productions – Although his studio is now defunct, Kojima’s popularity among critics and gamers alike is like no other in the industry. Bethesda, while having delivered the year’s biggest game, is being run through the ringer more this year for Fallout’s technical issues than it has in the past. Personally, from the list, I would choose CD Projekt Red due to the scope and scale of the Witcher 3 being met with almost no issues or bugs (with the exception of unavoidable open world animation issues, etc.). But this is Kojima’s swan song, and as such his year, and I can’t see the Jury not giving his studio its proper goodbye. I am curious as to how presenting an award to a closed studio would go down, so I do hope I am right here just to see Konami soil itself.

kojima-productionsBest Independent Game:

  • Axiom Verge
  • Her Story
  • Ori and the Blind Forest
  • Rocket League
  • Undertale

Winner: Rocket League – Rocket League came out of nowhere this year and won all of our hearts with its incredible kinetic energy. While not my favourite game on this list, it was so popular this summer that I can actually see it taking Game of the Year from a number of critics at the end of the year. How cool would it be if Her Story wins though…

Rocket-LeagueBest Mobile/Handheld Game:

  • Downwell
  • Fallout Shelter
  • Lara Croft Go
  • Monster Hunter 4: Ultimate
  • Pac-Man 256

Winner: Fallout Shelter – There is no future in which Fallout Shelter doesn’t win this award. It’s bombshell release during E3 had everyone playing and talking about this game throughout the Summer during a time when so many other game announcements were being made. This game had all the addiction of Tiny Tower with an aesthetic built around the gaming communities most anticipated game.

fallout-shelterBest Narrative:

  • Her Story
  • Life is Strange
  • Tales from the Borderlands
  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
  • Until Dawn

Winner: Life is Strange – I really liked this game so I am actually hopeful that it gets the win here. While I feel like Her Story is actually a better game, it lacks Life Is Strange’s more pure narrative direction. The only upset I can see here is Until Dawn which actually came away with decent buzz over its trope-heavy narrative. This will be an interesting category to watch.

LifeisStrange2Best Score/Soundtrack:

  • Fallout 4
  • Halo 5: Guardians
  • Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
  • Ori and the Blind Forest
  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Winner: Ori and the Blind Forest or The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – I really can’t decide who is going to win here. If left to me, Ori would win it no contest, but that game lacked the popularity of The Witcher 3. MGS and Fallout are strange additions here as they are more soundtrack driven. Yes, I know that is the category name, but making a mixed tape is so much less artful than writing a song.

OriandtheblindforestBest Performance: 

  • Ashly Burch – Life is Strange
  • Camilla Luddington – Rise of the Tomb Raider
  • Doug Cockle – The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
  • Mark Hamill – Batman: Arkham Knight
  • Viva Seifert – Her Story

Winner: Camilla Luddington – While Viva Seifert may have actually given the best performance of the year, the game’s non-traditional aesthetic may hold it back from winning. Mark Hamill, meanwhile, has done The Joker so many times now, and is so loved for it, that it feels almost unfair to any other participants that he is in the category. That is why I think that the Game Awards will actually use this one as a spoiler and give Luddington’s incredibly strong work as Lara Croft the win. She has quickly become the definitive Lara.

Camilla-LuddingtonGames for Impact:

  • Cibele
  • Her Story
  • Life is Strange
  • Sunset
  • Undertale

Winner: Her Story – This category has been contentious. Is this a game that is supposed to be representative of themes of social justice? Is it simply for those games that do not conform to traditional game tropes? If taken to represent some muddied middle ground between these two themes, nothing does it better than Her Story. Truly one of the most innovative games of the year, and starring a strong female who avoids the standard engendered tropes found in our industry, Her Story has made an “impact”, and I think if it can win any category, this is the one.

herstoryBest Shooter:

  • Call of Duty: Black Ops 3
  • Destiny: The Taken King
  • Halo 5: Guardians
  • Splatoon
  • Star Wars Battlefront

Winner: Destiny: The Taken King – While one could argue that an expansion should not be included on this list, the critical goodwill developers Bungie won with The Taken King just can’t be ignored. While I would argue that Halo 5 is a technically superior game, there is no way that Destiny is not coming away with a win here.

Destiny-The-Taken-KingBest Action/Adventure:

  • Assassin’s Creed Syndicate
  • Batman: Arkham Knight
  • Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
  • Ori and the Blind Forrest
  • Rise of the Tomb Raider

Winner: Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain – MGS V is just too big to not win this category. With Batman having PC issues and Syndicate suffering from franchise fatigue, there is no way MGS V does win. I would personally love to see Rise of the Tomb Raider take it but we live in a very anti-Xbox world and Tomb Raider has more ire than most other games. I don’t like it, but that is the way it is.

metal-gear5Best Role Playing Game:

  • Bloodborne
  • Fallout 4
  • Pillars of Eternity
  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
  • Undertale

Winner: Fallout 4 – While my vote would be for The Witcher, Fallout 4 is definitely going to win. Bethesda released Fallout 4 at the moment of max-anticipation. In truth it had been building for years, but it was at an all time fever pitch when Bethesda announced that they were going to have their own E3 press-conference. Also, why is Bloodborne in this category. It is an action game. To paraphrase Colin Moriarty, if you called every game with RPG elements and RPG, then even Madden would fit in this category. Oh well…. I digress.

Fallout4Best Fighting Game:

  • Guilty Gear XRD – Sign –
  • Mortal Kombat X
  • Rise of Incarnates
  • Rising Thunder

Winner: Mortal Kombat X – Fighting Game is a niche category so I realize that this can go many ways, but as a popularity contest, nothing exceeds Mortal Kombat. Guilty Gear has a tremendous following, I don’t want to dismiss it, that said Mortal Kombat sold incredibly well for a fighter so it is the big winner of the year. A slight tangent – if Taken King is considered a game release, I don’t understand why Killer Instinct Season 2 cannot be on this list. Iron Galaxy made some tremendous tweaks to the game play. Oh well…

mortalkombatx_scorpionsubzeroBest Family Game:

  • Disney Infinity 3.0
  • Lego Dimensions
  • Skylanders: Superchargers
  • Splatoon
  • Super Mario Maker

Winner: Splatoon – While the toys to life genre of games is nearly bursting at its seems, I cannot see the jury not giving an award to Nintendo at this show, and what better category than Family Game. While Super Mario Maker seems like an innocent family-oriented game, it is actually incredibly complex. Splatoon is a game where kids and adults can play eachother with enthusiasm, which is rare in this industry.

SplatoonBest Sports Game:

  • Fifa 16
  • Forza Motorsport 6
  • NBA 2K16
  • Pro Evolution Soccer 2016
  • Rocket League

Winner: Rocket League  – As I said in the indie game category, few games hit with the level of impact that Rocket League did this year. The only upset I could see is maybe Forza, but that is highly unlikely.

Rocket-LeagueBest Multiplayer:

  • Call of Duty: Black Ops 3
  • Destiny: The Taken King
  • Halo 5: Guardians
  • Rocket League
  • Splatoon

Winner: Rocket League – I think this is going to be another win for Rocket League. Unless the Jury takes the diplomatic route and chooses to not over-reward specific games, I don’t think the other games in this category delivered the level of conversation that Rocket League did. I will defend Halo 5 to the end of this earth for being the best multiplayer game of the year, but it is clear where the wind is blowing and it is not in Guardians’ direction.

Rocket-LeagueBest Art Direction:

  • Batman: Arkham Knight
  • Bloodborne
  • Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
  • Ori and the Blind Forest
  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Winner: Ori and the Blind Forest – If there is one thing we can all agree on, it is that Ori is likely to be remembered as the most beautiful game of 2015. The aesthetic design of the game is both joyous and heart breaking simultaneously. It’s hand-drawn art style was second to none. It is possible that Bloodborne will take this award due to its gloomy gothic vibe, but it shouldn’t. Ori is just too spectacular not to shine this accolade on it!

OriandtheblindforestGame of the Year:

  • Bloodborne
  • Fallout 4
  • Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
  • Super Mario Maker
  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Winner: Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain – I think it is highly possible that Fallout 4 wins this award, but as I mentioned under Studio, MGSV represents the end of an era, and I don’t think the Jury can overlook the power of this moment. Do I think it is the best game of the year? No, but it can be reasonably argued that it is the most important game of the year.

metal-gear5So those are my predictions. Agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comments. I am curious how my scorecard is going to add up. There are a few categories that could go in multiple directions so I am sure I won’t get 100%, but I think this is a pretty solid outline of who will be celebrating at the end of the night. Also, let’s not forget the other big reason for watching the show – the big game reveals. I can’t wait to see what new titles have yet to be unleashed into the echo chamber!

Follow Tom on Twitter @thomaskagar

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