A trio of TimeSplitters characters with guns.

The Game Awards’ missteps and Light No Fire | This week's gaming news

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The Game Awards are done and the video game marketing machine is winding down for the year, but this industry never fully stops. This week, we’re taking a look at what The Game Awards could have done better (a few things, it turns out) and breaking down some of the biggest announcements from last week’s show.

This week’s stories

Light No Fire

We’re gonna talk about The Game Awards a lot this week, but one of the biggest announcements from last Thursday’s show was the existence of Light No Fire, a new title from No Man’s Sky studio Hello Games. It’s a planet-sized, multiplayer game about exploration and community-building, and it uses procedural generation to fill every valley and mountaintop with life. At least, that’s the promise. There’s no release date for Light No Fire just yet, but Hello Games has been working on it for five years.

The rest of The Game Awards

Also at The Game Awards, we saw the reveal of a Blade game from Arkane Lyon, OD from Kojima Productions, Windblown from Dead Cells studio Motion Twin, and Exodus from Archetype Entertainment, a studio composed of BioWare, 343 and Naughty Dog veterans.

As for the awards, best narrative went to Alan Wake 2, best debut indie game went to Cocoon, and esports coach of the year went to Potter. Indie game Baldur's Gate 3 won game of the year, while Sea of Stars won best independent game over Dave the Diver, a title that was never indie to begin with. Got it? Good. Moving on.

Free Radical Design shuts down

A trio of TimeSplitters characters with guns.
Free Radical

UK studio Free Radical Design, which was working on the TimeSplitters revival, laid off more than 80 people and shut its doors on Monday. It marks another round of layoffs under Embracer this year — the holding company announced in June that a $2 billion funding deal fell through, and it’s spent the last few months closing studios and firing staff at places including Saints Row developer Volition and Chorus maker Fishlabs.

We can do better

The Game Awards logo
The Game Awards

The Game Awards last week ran for three hours, hosted by organizer Geoff Keighley. It was fancy and packed with movie stars — which, honestly, is pretty weird for a show that’s supposed to be about video games. Between abundant ad breaks, rushed speeches for winning developers, and ample stage time for celebrities, this year’s Game Awards didn’t feel like a celebration of the industry.

I’m not the only one who noticed the imbalance. After The Game Awards, plenty of developers, players and critics expressed displeasure with its pacing and priorities. Of the show’s 180 minutes, speeches from award winners took up just 10 minutes, and developers were prompted to ‘please wrap it up’ after just 30 seconds.

Meanwhile, Jordan Peele and Hideo Kojima were given nearly 7 minutes to talk about their upcoming project that looks like it’s more movie than game. There were appearances by Simu Liu, Matthew McConaughey and actors from TV shows based on video games. The Game of the Year award was presented by Timothee Chalamet, for some reason. Gonzo the Muppet even got 2 minutes.

Keighley rushed through most awards by reading the categories and winners directly into the camera back to back to back. Announcement trailers were indistinguishable from ad breaks, and there was no time spared for the industry’s most relevant issues, like the upheaval of mass layoffs, the fight to establish unions, and the medium's relationship with conflicts in Ukraine and Gaza.

These topics would feel drastically out of place at The Game Awards, and that alone is an indictment of the show. If there’s no room to discuss, celebrate and condemn these topics at the industry’s most public-facing event, what are we even doing here?

The Game Awards organizers have done a great job replacing the embarrassment that was Spike’s VGX with a show that looks more like The Oscars — but the video game industry is not Hollywood. Where are our luminaries? What are our issues? How are we innovating? Making video games more like movies is not the goal — unless you’re Kojima, I guess.

There are a bunch of other events that give time to video game creators and broader conversations, such as the Game Developers Choice Awards and its Independent Game Festival competition, The Spawnies from Spawn on Me, Gamedev.world from Rami Ismail, and Day of the Devs. And there are always the showcases from indie publishers like Annapurna Interactive, Devolver Digital and Panic throughout the year. But with E3 officially dead, Keighley's two big shows — Summer Game Fest and The Game Awards — are now the premier industry events on the gaming calendar. There's a responsibility that comes with that position, and his organization clearly needs to strike a better balance.

Now playing

It’s been a strangely stressful time, so I’ve been relaxing with couch co-op in Halo: The Master Chief Collection. It’s familiar and comfortable, and the toggle between old and new graphics is still an absolute delight. I’d love to discover some new couch co-op games, so let me know in the comments if you have any favorites.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/the-game-awards-missteps-and-light-no-fire–this-weeks-gaming-news-144549193.html?src=rss
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