The Biggest Snubs in the History of The Game Awards

A history of games that deserved more recognition at The Game Awards

The Game Awards are tonight, highlighting 2022’s greatest games and developers in the year’s biggest celebration of the videogame industry. Fans eagerly await to see which of their favorite titles from 2022 will be honored during the popular ceremony, hosted by media entrepreneur Geoff Keighley for the ninth annual presentation.

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However, when The Game Awards concludes and the dust settles, some viewers may feel disappointment if their favorite games do not receive due recognition, joining the jaded gamers whose titles of choice weren’t even nominated. Although The Game Awards (for the most part) does a good job of honoring the vast array of games throughout any given year, there have been a number of underappreciated games in the show’s history. While hindsight is 20/20, let’s take a stroll down memory lane to examine some of the biggest snubs at The Game Awards, year by year.

Biggest Snubs at The Game Awards 2014

The inaugural Game Awards presented fewer accolades than its later iterations, which caused a few great games that have stood the test of time to miss out on winning any honors in 2014. These include Alien Isolation, The Wolf Among Us, and Wolfenstein: The New Order. Alien Isolation was nominated for Best Score and Soundtrack and Best Action/Adventure, The Wolf Among Us earned a Best Narrative and Best Performance nod, and the fan-favorite reboot of the Wolfenstein franchise managed a Best Shooter (now a defunct category at The Game Awards) and Best Narrative designation, failing to win in either category.

Biggest Snubs at The Game Awards 2015

2015 was an incredible year for gaming, featuring a variety of generation-defining experiences crammed into merely 365 days. However, two of the year’s most acclaimed RPGs, Bloodborne and Undertale, failed to bring home any hardware at the second annual Game Awards. Undertale netted a Best Independent Game nod, as well as a Games for Impact loss, while Bloodborne was nominated for Game of the Year, Best Art Direction, and both titles ceded the Best Role Playing Game category to The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (an incredible game in its own right). To make matters worse, both Bloodborne and Undertale’s iconic musical scores were not included among the Best Score/Soundtrack nominees in a terrible oversight. Arguably the biggest snub of 2015 was Yakuza 0, a well-received, fan favorite entry in the long running franchise, which failed to garner a single nomination at The Game Awards’ second cermony.

Biggest Snubs at The Game Awards 2016

2016 was a full of highly rated first-person shooters like Battlefield 1, Doom, the game of the year winning Overwatch, Titanfall, and acclaimed action/adventure titles like Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End and Dishonored 2. However, this may have led to other genres being overlooked, such as the beloved simulation RPG, Stardew Valley, which only received a Best Independent Game nomination at The Game Awards’ third annual ceremony. In hindsight, Stardew Valley deserved greater recognition because to this day, the game still has a highly engaged, massive player base six years after its launch. Furthermore, XCOM 2, the turn-based tactics game from Firaxis only managed a Best Strategy Game nomination at The Game Awards, despite being a game of the year contender at other awards ceremonies.

Biggest Snubs at The Game Awards 2017

The 2017 iteration of The Game Awards was led by Nintendo’s stellar duo of Super Mario Odyssey and the game of the year winner, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, flanked by acclaimed RPGs Horizon Zero Dawn and Persona 5, and supported by some notable indies like Cuphead, Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice and What Remains of Edith Finch. However, lost in the shuffle was the challenging Metroidvania, Hollow Knight, the turn based RPG Divinity: Original Sin II, and the survival horror extravaganza, Resident Evil 7: Biohazard. While the game that reinvented the Resident Evil formula did win Best VR/AR game, and was also nominated in the Best Game Direction and Audio Design categories, one of the generation’s defining horror experiences was robbed of a Game of the Year nomination. However, Divinity: Original Sin II, the third highest rated game on Metacritic in 2017 could only muster a Best Role Playing Game nomination, while Hollow Knight only received a Best Indie Debut recognition, losing to Cuphead, and was entirely excluded from the Best Independent Game category.

Biggest Snubs at The Game Awards 2018

2018 was another competitive year with action/adventure titles Red Dead Redemption 2 and God of War leading the pack. However, the most notably, Marvel’s Spider-Man, Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age, and Shadow of the Colossus each failed to earn any trophies at the fifth annual Game Awards. Despite being a system-selling PlayStation 4 launch exclusive, that garnered critical acclaim, selling twenty million copies at the height of Marvel mania, Insomniac’s Spider-Man did not win any of its seven nominations. The game holds the record for the most nominations without a win in The Game Awards eight year history.

Next, Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age is one of the most well-received JRPGs of its generation and is consistently ranked highly among its prestigious predecessors of the Dragon Quest series, but was only nominated for Best Role Playing Game at the 2018 Game Awards. Finally, Bluepoint Games’ Shadow of the Colossus Remake failed to receive a single nomination at The Game Awards and was omitted entirely from the award ceremony despite being one of the top ten highest rated (eligible) titles with a 91 Metacritic score.

Related: Games With the Most All-Time Wins and Nominations at The Game Awards

Biggest Snubs at The Game Awards 2019

The Game Awards in 2019 were very bizarre. Despite the fact Death Stranding led the way with a then-record ten nominations, it lost out to FromSoftware’s Soulsborne evolution Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice for the Game of the Year award, despite Sekiro earning only half of the nominations (5) compared to Death Stranding. Further confusing matters were the show’s snubs of Disco Elysium and Resident Evil 2. Disco Elysium was nominated for four awards including Best Narrative, Best Independent Game, Best Roleplaying Game, and Fresh Indie Game, sweeping each category with four victories. So how exactly is this a snub? Well, shockingly, one of the most awarded games in the history of The Game Awards WAS NOT EVEN NOMINATED FOR GAME OF THE YEAR. It makes even less sense when The Outer Worlds, a game that lost to Disco Elysium in the Best Role Playing Game category, WAS nominated for Game of the Year. Inversely, Resident Evil 2 was nominated for Game of the Year, Best Game Direction, Best Audio Design, and Best Action/Adventure Game, but did not win a single category, despite being one of the year’s most universally acclaimed titles, as horror titles frequently underperform at The Game Awards.

Biggest Snubs at The Game Awards 2020

The Game Awards 2020 was more of a Last of Us Part II showcase, as Naughty Dog’s sequel collected seven awards from a record eleven nominations. However, with all of the attention on PlayStation titles like The Last of Us Part II and Ghost of Tsushima, the PS5 exclusive Demon’s Souls Remake from BluePoint Games was shunned from the award show. Although the November 2020 launch of the PlayStation 5, as well as the difficulty obtaining the console might have impacted the jury voting, Demon’s Souls is a clearly a glaring omission, as it remains one of the highest rated PS5 games two years post launch. Also, the Nintendo Switch, PC, and Xbox One title, Ori and the Will of the Wisps, the fifth highest rated game of 2020 on Metacritic, did not receive a game of the year nomination, and lost in each of its three categories. Finally, one has to wonder if J. Jonah Jameson is on The Game Awards jury, as Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales also failed to win any of its three nominations, making Spider-Man zero for ten at The Game Awards

Biggest Snubs at The Game Awards 2021

Last year, the 2021 Game Awards was led by the first-person shooter, Deathloop, and the game of the year winning two-player action platformer It Takes Two. However, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, Psychonauts 2, and Returnal were all snubbed in their own way. While Ratchet & Clank Rift Apart and Psychonauts earned six and five nominations respectively (including Game of the Year), neither took home a single honor, despite winning game of the year awards at a number of other videogame award presentations. On the other hand, Returnal won Best Action Game, but failed to receive a Game of the Year nomination, while its genre competition Psychonauts 2, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, and Resident Evil Village all received nominations for the ceremony’s most coveted award.

Related: Psychonauts 2 Review | A Feast of Senses

For more news, guides, and features on the 2022 installment of The Game Awards, Prima Games is your go-to source.

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Grant Testa
Grant Testa is a writer at Prima Games, who specializes in achievement hunting and horror gaming. He is also an avid comic book reader/collector, fantasy footballer, and rock music fanatic. Thousands who have been defeated by Grant in online multiplayer games have cried to themselves, wondering, "How did he get so good?! Why can't I be a gaming demigod like him?" They would probably be surprised to learn that Grant actually inherited his elite gaming skills from his mom, Joann Hansen, one of the speediest stenographers/typists in the nation, (and probably the world). Fun fact: he is also the son of the world’s first “let’s player” and comedy legend, Tim Testa.