Sigh. That’s all I can really do after watching the VGX, formally known as the Video Game Awards or VGAs, just let out one big sigh. The VGAs have been getting flack for years about not being about games or the gamers. So when the announce came of a changed format meant to focus on just that, the games, we were excited for the change. I never thought the awards show in the past was particularly good or bad. For me it was the middle of the road, trying to pander to non gamers and gamers alike. So I was looking forward to the change in format. What we got was a 3 hour show full of awkwardness, terrible jokes, and host who made you clamor for the old Ubisoft E3 presentation with Mr. Caffeine.
Before diving into what made the show bad, let’s talk about the good. We got some decent premieres for trailers and a couple surprises that actually surprised me. The highlight for me was The Division Snowdrop Engine trailer. All the trailer showed was in game footage, but not of gameplay. This was of the environment, the lighting, and the weather effects. And it all looked phenomenal. Maybe the first game that actually looks next gen, this game is gorgeous. Other trailers we got to see were Titanfall showing off two new Titan classes, The Witcher 3, Destiny, Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze, and a brand new IP called No Man’s Sky just to say a few. No Man’s Sky stole the show by actually being able to be kept secret. Most everything else we knew we would see but no one saw this coming. It looks interesting as a sprawling space adventure. I need to see more but I am interested in it. We will post an article of all the trailers and demos shown on the show.
That’s really all I can say for the good. Now for the bad and the ugly. This show was really awkward. Moving from a live audience to no audience to focus more on the games seemed like a way to make it more intimate and game centric. The only thing it really did was making it uncomfortable when someone would accept an award only to be met with complete silence when usually an audience would congratulate them. Also, the lack of an audience makes terrible jokes even more apparent of how terrible they are, but more on that in a bit. Through all the cringing and boredom, I actually felt bad for the people accepting awards in person, they looked like they couldn’t run out of there quick enough.
And can we talk about awards for a minute? For a three hour show that changed their format to focus more on the games, how is it that you only cover half of your own rewards, if that? Not even the quick, “Oh hey we are short on time so these people one this.” They outright ignored and never spoke about certain awards. It’s weird to see who one best Xbox game and best shooter, and not even mention who won best PlayStation or Nintendo game, or other categories like best handheld or RPG. They had more than enough time to cover all the awards if the really wanted to. At the very least, they could have pretended to treat every console equally and shown the best of for them instead of focusing so heavily on Xbox in the week leading up to the show and in the show itself. The VGAs have always been treated like companies pay for the awards. How VGX only really talked about Xbox really doesn’t help that image.
Nintendo was talked about briefly with its first appearance on the program. Nintendo president Reggie Fils-Aime came on to present Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze for the Wii U. What followed was a very awkward showcasing. Reggie could barely get in any words before being interrupted with terrible jokes and accusations about not presenting a different game. I admit that I was hoping and would have preferred something like Super Smash Bros. or a new Legend of Zelda game or even a Metroid game, but for a host to actually act like that wasn’t enough for you is just rude and unprofessional. Whatever you may feel for Nintendo, as a “gaming journalist” you should at least pretend to be professional when you are actually interviewing them.
And now we get to the biggest rotten egg of the night, cohost Joel McHale. Joel was… well, he was Joel. Pretty much the same as when he host The Soup on E! But there is a problem with that; on The Soup he is making fun of celebrities and dumb TV moments, here he was making fun of the targeted audience of the VGX, the gamers. And not in the way of, “Oh these are dumb things we gamers know is stupid but some people still do.” No this was the, “I’m better than you and I will talk down to all of you” way. Half of the time he just looked bored and not wanting to be there, the other half he wouldn’t shut up and kept interrupting the developers who were trying to talk about there games. It was a bad choice to pick him, one that may go down as the next Mr. Caffeine debacle. Some argue that awkwardness is funny and therefore it was a good show, but this was just bad.
Last but not least we have the GTA music concert, which took up about 30 minutes. Choosing the Loiter Squad to host that section of the show was another terrible choice. They make their living on off the wall weird awkwardness so I suppose they fit right in, but it didn’t help the show. Coupled with a lazy concert and a lack luster crowd who looked like they were dragged into the concert by force makes for a bad show.
All in all, the newly reinvented VGX got off on the wrong foot. Instead of trying to appease to the gaming community, it seemed like they just chased them away. The VGAs always had a cloud hovering over them of not really being about the games or the gamer, and those clouds turned into a hurricane. If this is what they think the gaming community wants they are sadly mistaken. We did get to see some good trailers and new games, but that wasn’t enough to save this train wreck. If there is any silver lining is that they can only improve from this. At least, I can’t imagine them getting any worse. Hopefully next year will be better, and you know there will be a next year. But for now, VGX was just bad. A little good, mostly bad, and ugly.