When a game receives a “Game of the Year” award, it’s a testament to its quality and success. Multiple websites and organizations have their own annual awardees, but The Game Awards is perhaps one of the most well-known.
This awards ceremony was formed in 2014 by Geoff Keighley. Keighley decided to establish the ceremony when Spike Video Game Awards got dropped in the same year. Since its formation, The Game Awards has been held annually and has put eight games on a pedestal as the best games of their respective years.
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2014 – Dragon Age: Inquisition
The first game to be presented with the Game of the Year award by The Game Awards was Dragon Age: Inquisition. This incredible RPG was highly anticipated prior to its release, and fans had hoped that it would rejuvenate the series given how the reception of the previous game was.
Thankfully, Dragon Age: Inquisition was an amazing game. It provided players with a well-crafted combat system and a story told with great writing. While the game did have a few glaring flaws, most believed its strengths greatly outweighed its quirks. When it won Game of the Year in 2014, fans rejoiced, and appreciation for the Dragon Age series rose once more.
Game of the Year 2014 Nominees
- Dragon Age: Inquisition
- Bayonetta 2
- Dark Souls II
- Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor
2015 – The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
2015 was a great year for the video game world. Every game that got nominated for Game of the Year that year could have easily taken the award. In the end, it was The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt that took the top spot. Despite the fierce competition, many argued that The Witcher 3 truly deserved to win the award that year.
In a lot of aspects, those fans were right. Fans and critics alike saw The Witcher 3 as a masterpiece. The gameplay was widely praised. Its combat mechanics were undeniably fun. The enemies were just the right amount of challenging without being unfair. Even the mini-games were thoughtfully crafted.
It also had a fascinating story set in a rich and expansive world. Its characters became some of the most beloved and recognized in gaming history. On top of those, it had some of the best side content of any game ever. Players poured hundreds of hours into this game without it ever feeling tiresome and repetitive.
Game of the Year 2015 Nominees
- The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
- Fallout 4
- Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
- Super Mario Maker
2016 – Overwatch
The game that took home the Game of the Year award in 2016 was Overwatch. The game winning the award was highly momentous given it is the only game among the nominees that’s exclusively an online multiplayer. That said, its win was highly deserved. Overwatch was released to critical acclaim due to its immensely entertaining gameplay and diverse cast of playable heroes.
Not only was the game considered one of the best competitive multiplayer games of all time, it’s also considered one of the best games ever made. The game featured 21 different playable heroes at launch and all of them are engaging to use. None of them felt too similar which encouraged players to explore every single one.
Couple this with the game’s very engaging shooter gameplay and you have a game that has a high replay value. It had over 50 million players three years after its release and it went on to become a very popular esport.
Game of the Year 2016 Nominees
- Titanfall 2
- Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
2017 – The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was a game that didn’t only elevate its franchise, it revolutionized open-world games as a whole. This is why no one at all was surprised when it won the Game of the Year award in 2017. The game was critically acclaimed and is still hailed as one of the best video games of all time.
Prior to the release of the game, the Legend of Zelda franchise was already highly beloved and popular. The series has some of the best games ever made and fans expected Breath of the Wild to live up to the expectations. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild didn’t only live up to the hype, it exceeded them.
The game was a masterpiece on all fronts. Most especially, its open-world design was seen as monumental. It was a breath of fresh air from the various open-world games in the industry that followed a similar formula. The sense of freedom the game presented gave its players true immersion. It kept players entertained at a maximum as they explored the game’s vast world for days on end and experienced its wonderful story and gameplay that’s true to the franchise it’s in.
Game of the Year 2017 Nominees
- The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
- Horizon Zero Dawn
- Persona 5
- PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds
- Super Mario Odyssey
2018 – God of War
When the nominees for the Game of the Year awards in 2018 were released, two games in particular were believed to be the top contenders: God of War and Red Dead Redemption 2. When the night was over, it was the reimagining of the vastly beloved God of War franchise that won the award, much to the delight of its fans.
God of War felt very different from what fans of the franchise knew about God of War. Skepticism was rampant prior to its release as many didn’t think the series could make such a drastic change while still maintaining its identity. Any doubts, though, quickly disappeared when the game was launched.
Although it was very different, players and critics agreed that the game’s revised combat system and direction were well-handled changes. Not only that, its narrative was some of the best players have seen in a video game. It also gave the face of the franchise, Kratos, a more nuanced and likable personality, and the new additions to the series such as Atreus and Mimir were also warmly welcomed by fans.
Game of the Year 2018 Nominees
- God of War
- Assassin’s Creed Odyssey
- Marvel’s Spider-Man
- Monster Hunter: World
- Red Dead Redemption 2
2019 – Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
2019 saw a ton of extraordinary video games. From the narrative individuality and one-of-a-kind gameplay loop in Death Stranding to the expansive roster and endless entertaining gameplay of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. However, it was the phenomenal combat system and the classic Souls-like formula of Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice that rose above the rest when it won Game of the Year in 2019.
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice was a tad different from FromSoftware Games’ previous Souls-like titles. While it still kept a lot of the aspects that make a game a “Souls-like” title, its combat mechanics, traversal action, and pace were a complete departure from what fans were used to. Regardless, the game was met with praise and love from old fans and newcomers alike.
The game’s new combat system was widely revered by players. It was highly engaging, exciting, and challenging, and fans loved every single second of it. The connectivity of the world, the rich lore, and the enemy design were aspects of the game long-time fans already knew were going to be top-notch, and top-notch they indeed were.
Game of the Year 2019 Nominees
- Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
- Death Stranding
- Resident Evil 2
- Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
- The Outer Wilds
2020 – The Last of Us Part II
While 2020 was an undeniably unforgettable year for all the wrong reasons, it at least gave gamers an abundance of incredible titles. The Game of the Year award was a very close fight considering how amazing every single nominee was. Each game had its dedicated fanbase and they all believed their game was going to win the award. When The Game Awards came along, it was Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us Part II that took the cake.
The Last of Us Part II is perhaps one of the most controversial games of all time. However, one certainly cannot discredit everything the game does right. From its groundbreaking visuals and phenomenal performances to its tense story that kept players on edge constantly, the game was, in the end, highly memorable, monumental, and complex.
It is due to these praiseworthy aspects of the game that many believed the game deserved to win the award. While fans are still divided to this day, the game remains an overall critical and commercial success. Fans are keenly singing praises for the game, while those who gravely disliked it are still discussing its flaws just as much.
Game of the Year 2020 Nominees
- The Last of Us Part II
- Animal Crossing: New Horizons
- Doom Eternal
- Final Fantasy VII Remake
- Ghost of Tsushima
2021 – It Takes Two
The winner of The Game Awards’ Game of the Year in 2021 was Hazelight Studios’ It Takes Two. The game’s win was seen as also seen as a win for couch co-op games, which have been few and far between over the years.
The game featured a handful of mechanics that all adhere to its platforming genre. Players loved how meaningful each moment was and how seamlessly intertwined its gameplay was with the game’s story. The game also contained a wide array of minigames that were equally as fun to play as the rest of the game.
By far the best aspect of the game was its co-op feature. The game truly required unity and teamwork for the players to progress. Those who played it with a friend or a romantic partner were in for some of the best hours of gaming they ever had. Its co-op feature, meaningful gameplay, and heartwarming story are key aspects of why this title deserved to win the Game of the Year award in 2021.
Game of the Year 2021 Nominees
- It Takes Two
- Metroid Dread
- Psychonauts 2
- Rachet & Clank: Rift Apart
- Resident Evil Village