As we come to the end of the year, we take the time to look back on the things that we've accomplished. Maybe we moved. Perhaps we started a new position with a new company. Maybe we even met someone we love and took our relationship to the next level. Whatever twists and turns our lives have taken, the end of the year generally means celebrating some kinds of holidays and taking a look back. We doubtless remember the bad things that happened to us within a revolution of the sun, but hopefully we think about the positives as well. This same fond remembrance happens within the video game industry as well as we celebrate all the games that were the best in their categories. At the tippy top of all those categories however is the king of them all, the game of the year.
The games that are being celebrated as the best for the entire calendar year in 2017 are varied. There's The Legend of Zelda, Breath of the Wild, Horizon: Zero Dawn, Persona 5, Super Mario Odyssey, and finally, PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds. A bit of a controversy has sprung up with the last nominee, however. As most people tuned into the gaming industry are well aware, PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds is not fully released at the moment. It's still an early access title. The 1.0 “full” release of PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds will supposedly happen in 2017. It's just as likely that it could release next year, and then at that point could be technically considered for Game of the Year again.
This is causing a bit of a hubbub across the internet, as there are many other great games released in 2017 that could take PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds' place. Even the creator, PlayerUnknown (Brendan Greene) himself doesn't believe that the game should win. He believes that The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild or Horizon: Zero Dawn should win for being better games. If we look at the fact that even the creator of the game believes that others should win, it puts the question of its legitimacy as a nominee into question.
What are some other great 2017 games that aren't on the list for Game of the Year? Divinity: Original Sin II is widely well-received. What Remains of Edith Finch is extremely highly rated. Injustice 2 has brought in all kinds of players. NieR: Automata and Nioh both did incredibly well. Cuphead even redefined what video game graphics could look like. And yet, here is PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds on the list without even being fully released. Having the chance to pop up for awards two years in a row is a bit unfair, considering those other great titles released this year will not have the same choice. They were released firmly in 2017, and thus will earn their awards now. PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds is not only nominated for Game of the Year, but also “Best Ongoing Game” and “Best Multiplayer Game.” What if it wins all of the above because of it's major popularity?
Then in 2018, when the end of the year comes and we start looking back on things fondly once again, we may see PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds' official release date. Sure, we gave it some awards in 2017, but it wasn't a real game then. Now that it's fully released, we can nominate it and see if it will win again. None of this seems entirely fair to other games with only one release date. It would make much more sense if there were categories devoted completely to Early Access titles. Then if those games win an award at least it'll be under the caveat that it's not yet completed. There's nothing wrong with being rewarded for hard work before completion, but that work yet to come should at least be recognized.
If we don't separate our awards into Early Access categories, then there are a few things we'll have to accept. One, that not fully released games will win more awards than actually finished ones. And also that chances at recognition will be taken away from finished products. Those developers who worked their butts off to finish a game will be rewarded on equal terms as those who worked their butts off but did not reach a completion date. It's an interesting conversation to be sure, and I'd be glad to hear your thoughts on it. Please let me know in the comments below!