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(Source: The Game Awards)

The video games industry hype machine has been spinning up all week for Thursday night’s Game Awards, billed as the “biggest night in video games and esports.” Since its founding in 2014 by Geoff Keighley, who also serves as the show’s host, the Awards have honored the achievements of the video game industry in the past year.

The nominees for each Game Award are chosen, according to their website, by an international jury of global media and “influencer” outlets, “selected for their history of critical evaluation of video games.” Each of those outlets has their editorial staff complete a confidential ballot with its top five choices for the year in each category, and the nominations are awarded based upon which games appeared on the most ballots.

The winners in each category are then chosen based upon a 90/10 split of the jury’s votes and those made by fans, via either the Game Awards website, its official Discord, Twitter DMs, Facebook Messenger, voice chat on Alexa, Google Assistant… OK, look, apparently you can vote for the Game Awards via basically any means of communication that’s more advanced than the carrier pigeon. The fan voting closes at midnight Wednesday night, Pacific time.

The Game Awards will stream live starting at 5:30 p.m. Pacific on a wide variety of online mobile and social platforms.

This year’s ceremony has a number of high-profile nominees, ranging from big mainstream blockbusters to independent productions, but the real reason for enthusiasts to tune in tomorrow night is the promise of big announcements from all over the industry. A lot of companies big and small are planning to take advantage of the platform offered by the Game Awards to build enthusiasm for their next projects.

Local Projects Make Good

The big news for the Pacific Northwest this year, as was announced last month, is that the Vancouver, B.C., produced independent platformer Celeste is up for a surprise Game of the Year nomination. Celeste, a challenging yet weirdly supportive game that uses a mountain full of traps as a metaphor for grappling with mental health issues, is also up for Best Score, Best Independent Game, and the “Games for Impact” award, made to honor the year’s most thought-provoking releases.

Lena Raine, the Seattle-based musician who composed Celeste‘s soundtrack, is one of several honorees who will perform with the Awards orchestra during the ceremony.

Other PNW-produced and/or -published titles to watch at this year’s ceremony include:

  • Bungie and Activision’s Destiny 2: Forsaken (Best Ongoing Game, Best Action Game, Best Multiplayer Game)
  • Nintendo’s Octopath Traveler (Best Art Direction, Best Score, and Best Role-Playing Game)
  • Nintendo’s Mario Tennis Aces (Best Sports/Racing Game)
  • Nintendo competing mostly with itself for Best Family Game, with the Labo, Mario Tennis Aces, and Super Mario Party
  • Subset’s Into the Breach (Best Independent Game, Best Strategy Game)
  • Harebrained Schemes’s BattleTech (Best Strategy Game)
  • Microsoft and Rare’s Sea of Thieves (Best Multiplayer Game)
  • PolyArc Games’s Moss (Best Debut Indie Game, Best VR/AR Game)

The games to beat this year, with a total of eight nominations each, are Sony’s God of War, the unnumbered fourth entry in the action series, and Rockstar’s open-world Western Red Dead Redemption 2. It’s probably a safe bet, given its recent release and overwhelming critical acclaim, that RDR2 will be tonight’s big winner. However, given the news that its development process half-killed its production staff and a slowly simmering backlash against its various flaws, there’s room for an upset.

What To Expect in Friday’s News Cycle

There are a lot of rumors floating around about what may or may not drop during tomorrow night’s awards ceremony. What we know for sure, courtesy of Keighley himself, is that we’ll be hearing about over 10 new games for the first time ever, including several notable updates to existing titles.

We know for sure that we’ll hear an update from Epic Games about the starting lineup for its forthcoming digital storefront, which they only announced for the first time yesterday, alongside new teased developments for Fortnite. Epic already broke the news earlier today about an upcoming new feature, debuting tomorrow, called Fortnite Creative.

Another big announcement today came from Ubisoft, whetting its fans’ appetites ahead of time with a short teaser for a new entry in the over-the-top, open-world Far Cry series. The last game, Far Cry 5, ended on a particularly downbeat note; now, this one appears to be set in the wake of a nuclear apocalypse. Usually, the Far Cry games are joined together by the thinnest possible gameplay similarities, rather than anything to do with the plot. If this new Far Cry is set in the world of FC5, it would mark the first time that a game in the series had an actual direct sequel.

We’ll definitely hear word on the future of Dead by Daylight, as well as the possible official announcement of a release date for Hideo Kojima’s PS4 exclusive Death Stranding, although Walmart Canada accidentally leaked it earlier this week (again). Keighley has also teased the possibility of new information about Sucker Punch’s Ghost of Tsushima and Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us: Part 2.

Most notably, the popular RPG developer Obsidian Entertainment has had a countdown clock on its website for a while now, sponsored by “Spacer’s Choice,” which is ticking down towards the start of the Game Awards. In the wake of Microsoft acquiring the studio last month, it’s expected that Obsidian’s next game, whatever it might be, will be exclusive to the Xbox and Windows platforms. The rumor, based upon fans’ investigation of the trademark registry, is that they’ll debut a steampunk-influenced RPG with the possible title The Outer Worlds.

A message brought to you by Spacer’s Choice, “that was found to be 89.5% safe for human viewing.” (Source: Obsidian.net)

Particularly interesting rumors, as of this writing, include the debut of a fourth Dragon Age game; the long-expected official announcement of Mortal Kombat 11, which has been conspicuous in its absence from every convention and trade show so far this year; the official debut of Alien: Blackout, another attempt at a shooter based in the universe of the Alien franchise and one of the most poorly-kept secrets in the video game industry; new information about Ubisoft’s long-delayed Beyond Good & Evil 2; and the possible return of the Splinter Cell franchise, based upon the otherwise-inexplicable appearance of the series’s protagonist Sam Fisher in one of Keighley’s hype videos.

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