This 12 months’s Recreation Awards, regardless of COVID-19 restrictions, ended up being the biggest showcase in its history, by way of viewership, on account of Geoff Keighley’s evolving drive to take the present to new heights. From big-name celebrities like Tom Holland, Keanu Reeves, and Gal Gadot to out-of-the-blue surprises like the Mass Effect reveal, The Recreation Awards 2020 was an enormous success. We sat down with host/producer Geoff Keighley to be taught extra about what goes on behind the scenes, particularly throughout these unprecedented instances.
Initially of the 12 months, the world noticed the beginnings of a worldwide pandemic. With every passing month, COVID-19 continued its unfold, successfully altering each day life as we all know it. Gaming thrived compared to different industries that struggled, however that does not imply that organizing this 12 months’s Recreation Awards was a straightforward feat.
“I am simply completely satisfied we obtained to do the present this 12 months,” Keighley tells us. “We spent months and months simply worrying about, ‘Might we produce a dwell present? What would it not seem like?’ Being in L.A., the place we do the present, it hasn’t been a terrific couple of weeks for COVID numbers. So there was fixed worry round with the ability to do the present, so we had been so completely satisfied that we had been capable of make it.”
This 12 months’s present hosted an unimaginable array of expertise, together with visitor appearances from some fairly main celebrities. Whereas most could not make it in individual, their presence served as a testomony to how a lot gaming has turn out to be a staple within the leisure trade past simply our microcosm.
“We had been fortunate to have a lot of superior friends, cool sport bulletins,” he continues. “The present was very full. As a result of in April or Might, I used to be apprehensive there may not be video games to announce as a result of everybody was working from residence and so many issues had been delayed. So yeah, we had been actually fortunate this 12 months that the present might occur. We had a ton of superior friends from Hollywood and funky sport friends, and that is what I like to do, is attempt to carry popular culture collectively inside the present. It is all a few steadiness, proper? It is a steadiness between awards and world premieres. It is also a steadiness between who presents awards and the music, proper? Getting Eddie Vedder to do his music from The Final of Us. We wish all the things to be genuine, however that is the magic of the present.”
Not everybody was pleased with the inclusion of Hollywood. Whereas most of the friends had ties to gaming, particularly Tom Holland and Brie Larson, others appeared confused by the presence of Gal Gadot and others, worrying concerning the “purity” of the showcase.
Keighley addresses this, saying: “Look, it is a kind of issues the place, and I see this all on Twitter, the place some individuals are very pure, that they simply need sport builders presenting to sport builders. However to me, I believe it is cool to produce other expertise that’s there to understand the medium and pay tribute. Gal was there presenting Video games for Affect, and she or he offered her class, she was captivated with what these video games meant, what they had been attempting to drive towards. Christopher Nolan presenting Recreation of the Yr. I believe it elevates the trade to have everybody in the identical room collectively.”
He provides, “And so they’re clearly all there to present awards to sport builders. So it is not … Typically individuals are like, ‘Properly, why do you want these Hollywood names? I simply need the sport builders,’ and I believe it is type of fascinating and completely different that we are able to combine these items up and have Christopher Nolan current an award to Naughty Canine, which is cool. And once more, we nonetheless had Reggie [Fils-Aime] current an award, we nonetheless had Josef Fares announce his sport. So we’ve got sport builders in there, however it’s enjoyable for us to have the ability to mess around … We’re simply in a singular place to have the ability to do this type of stuff. And that is what [The Game Awards] does.”
Whereas the lineup of celebrities was equally shocking and spectacular, there was really a lot extra that the staff needed to incorporate, however COVID-19, scheduling conflicts, and journey points had different plans.
Not Every little thing Goes In accordance To Plan
“There are tons of those that we attain out to who aren’t obtainable,” Keighley says when speaking a little bit bit concerning the manufacturing facet of the showcase and what goes into deciding how huge they need to go. “Like Henry Cavill. We actually needed to do one thing enjoyable with him as a result of he did the wonderful Construct a PC video, however he was filming The Witcher and could not do it. So it depends upon who we go to. Like Gal, we have completed a whole lot of cool stuff with Warner Brothers through the years. Warner Brothers are on our board on the sport facet. So it was simply type of match. Tom Holland was there as a result of he was doing the Uncharted film, which they needed to do a enjoyable factor with him and Nolan [North] collectively, in order that got here collectively.”
“There isn’t any rhyme or purpose to the way it comes collectively,” he provides. The present, although adequately deliberate, additionally goes with the stream of the 12 months and what feels proper for the gaming neighborhood as a complete whereas balancing out the enterprise facet of any showcase with regard to sponsorship, viewership objectives, and different parts which are at play within the background.
No matter what number of Hollywood faces had been current, video games had been at all times “on the coronary heart of it.” On the finish of the day, Keighley’s imaginative and prescient is to remain true to the neighborhood and that everybody that takes half is there for the appropriate purpose. “Just like the expertise that was there this 12 months, very reverential to video games, proper? I believe Chris Nolan is fascinated by this world. You recognize, it was nice to get Brie Larson, clearly, who’s had an enormous 12 months type of round video games with Animal Crossing and what she did with Nintendo. In order that was actually cool to place collectively. Brie was posting on social media all day, preparing for the Recreation Awards. It was like she was going to the Oscars, and it was cool for me to see that type of crossover that’s potential inside the present if it is completed in an genuine manner.”
Inside The Voting Course of
There are a number of elements to the voting aspect of the present, together with a panel of trade consultants (which Recreation Informer is formally part of), in addition to a fan-only voting process as nicely. However earlier than diving into that, Keighley opened up a little bit extra about how they slim the nominees down, particularly in years that home so many unimaginable sport releases:
“We’ve this course of the place we ship out a poll to all the voting retailers; 96 retailers all over the world vote for the nominees, after which we tally them up.”
It is a easy method, meant to be a consensus, not an overruling. In reality, Keighley even mentions that his private choose for Recreation of the Yr did not even make the nominees record. “Half-Life: Alyx was a singular state of affairs in that it is an incredible sport, however it has a restricted viewers due to it being VR. I am certain that factored into why it did not get a Recreation of the Yr nomination, due to it being restricted to VR.
“And that is the identical factor with a fan vote. That makes it even more durable, proper? As a result of if this was purely fan-voted, not sufficient followers would have performed Alyx in comparison with an enormous, third-person, multiplatform motion sport. In order that’s a kind of causes we’ve got this type of break up between the jury and the followers. If it was only a pure reputation contest, a single platform sport, particularly a VR-only sport like Alyx, can be much more challenged within the voting.”
With such a large viewers weighing in with the vote on a worldwide scale, selecting a small quantity of nominees makes the present “extra fascinating.” “That is a part of the thriller and magic of the present,” says Keighley. “We might have 15 nominees for Recreation of the Yr, however it’s simply much less fascinating since you really need us to kind of make it extra of a decent race. And inevitably, there might be snubs, there can even be surprises. And that is type of what makes this much more fascinating for people and for us.”
Concerning his private choose for GOTY, he provides, “I used to be personally bummed when Alyx wasn’t nominated for Recreation of the Yr. I at all times must divorce myself from the nominees and the winners as a result of I’ve no say in any respect. So once we see the outcomes, they’re what they’re.”
How The Summer season Video games Fest Paved The Manner
Keighley was fairly open with the fears surrounding The Recreation Awards in a COVID-19 world, however not the way in which that individuals might imagine. The present was going to occur it doesn’t matter what, it was a matter of what the dimensions can be like. Earlier this 12 months, Keighley put collectively the Summer season Recreation Fest to fill the void that E3 cancellation’s left, and he admits that it was the boldness booster he wanted going ahead. “The [Summer Game Fest] simply made me understand that the viewers goes to point out up anyway, so you do not essentially must have some big set with hundreds of individuals. I used to be doing a broadcast from my spare room for the PlayStation 5 controller. That was simply me doing it on my own. So it was empowering to kind of see that you would nonetheless do stuff like that. And I believe gave me the boldness that we’d do the Recreation Awards in some type.”
“There was this state of affairs the place I used to be going to must do the Recreation Awards from that very same spare room, from that setup. You recognize, all the things obtained shut down in L.A., they usually had a satellite tv for pc truck exterior my home the place it is like, ‘Am I actually going to must do the Recreation Awards that manner?’
“Doing that gave me some confidence to know that, worst case, we might nonetheless do the Recreation Awards that manner. I do not suppose I ever publicly acknowledged this, however a whole lot of what I used to be doing this summer season, I believe, was confidence-building on my half to say, ‘Hey, I can type of discover ways to do that myself. And that is perhaps what we might do for the Recreation Awards.'”
The Inevitable Plateau
Annually, the present has seen immense development, typically quadrupling viewership numbers. However with a terrific rise can also come a terrific fall, and Keighley is aware of that ultimately, the present will attain some extent the place it cannot develop anymore – and that thought is a little bit scary. “Look, I will be completely sincere with you,” he says. “I dwell in worry yearly as a result of it retains rising, however there’s going to be that 12 months the place it would not develop, and the type of development we present is nuts. There’s going to be a 12 months the place we do not have the identical viewers and it is like…I am nonetheless amazed that it retains rising, and it is not like we spend more money on advertising and marketing to engineer that. We simply attempt to make the very best present we are able to, and it is at all times labored out to date.”
It will likely be fascinating to see how the present continues to evolve. You may hear the total interview within the video on the high of the article, in addition to nicely as what Keighley advised us concerning the extra controversial conversations taking place across the present with our earlier protection here.