SXSW Gaming Awards Nominees And Predictions

The annual SXSW conference and festival is upon us once more, which means a whole new list of gaming awards nominees for 2017. Here, we go through the selected nominees and pick out our predictions and hopes for the award show taking place March 18th 8pm-10pm at the Hilton, Austin.

Video Game Of The Year

  • Dishonored 2
  • DOOM
  • Overwatch
  • Titanfall 2
  • Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

Predictions: Overwatch has been picking up Game of the Year awards for months now, so we’d be surprised if SXSW was any different. Saying that, Titanfall 2 is still selling strong and proving its popularity day by day, and we can always hold out hope that Uncharted 4 won’t let this award slip away from it. 

Mobile Game of the Year

  • Clash Royale
  • Pokemon GO
  • Pokemon Sun and Moon
  • Reigns
  • Severed

Pokemon Sun and Moon

Predictions: The mobile and handheld markets are combined in this category which might spell disaster for mobile wunderkind Pokemon GO. Its suited and booted sibling Sun and Moon might just grab the top spot in this one. 

Tabletop Game of the Year

  • Arkham Horror: The Card Game
  • Captain Sonar
  • Inis
  • Mechs vs. Minions
  • The Others

Mechs vs Minions

Esports Game of the Year

  • Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare
  • Gears of War 4
  • Killer Instinct: Season 3
  • Overwatch
  • Street Fighter V

Predictions: It would be hard to not see eSports Game of the Year to go to Overwatch. 

Trending Game of the Year

  • Dead by Daylight
  • Job Simulator
  • Overwatch
  • SUPERHOT
  • Who’s Your Daddy

Predictions: Job Simulator has pretty much become the social media poster child for VR over the last year, so it’s got a good shot at bringing down Overwatch. However, Blizzard have kept their title in constant memory through their growing character roster, comics, lore announcements, and new content. 

Fan Creation of the Year

  • Brutal Doom 64 – Sergeant_Mark_IV
  • Enderal – The Shards of Order – SureAI Team
  • Fallout 1.5: Resurrection – Resurrection Team
  • Fallout: Revelation – MechanicalCakeTV
  • Jack – A Stanley Parable Short Film – Vesio Productions

Matthew Crump Cultural Innovation Award

  • 1979 Revolution: Black Friday
  • Fragments of Him
  • Orwell
  • Quadrilateral Cowboy
  • That Dragon, Cancer

Predictions: “The game that best challenges the ‘norm’ of everyday gaming” is a tricky award to bestow. So many unique titles are emerging these days that offer new modes of play through novel thematic territory. That Dragon, Cancer would be my personal favourite to win – that game kept me weeping and guessing, but it’s easy to see how Orwell could just as easily pick up the trophy. 

That Dragon, Cancer

Excellence in Narrative

  • Firewatch
  • The Last Guardian
  • Oxenfree
  • That Dragon, Cancer
  • Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

Predictions: Uncharted 4’s narrative has been widely applauded throughout fans and critics, and yet we’ve seen very little trophies awarded. Firewatch has usually been the one to snatch it away, and it’s where i’m placing my bets this year. Granted, it has the added pressure of The Last Guardian to contend with, and may have run its course in the award show arena but it’s become one of the most iconic games of 2016 for its narrative excellence.

Excellence in Design

  • Dishonored 2
  • INSIDE
  • Overwatch
  • Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
  • The Witness

Predictions: Design concept is such a subjective category that it’s well suited to the independent market with their whimsical creations and deep symbolic encoding. INSIDE fits the description perfectly for me, and might have a shot at beating the big guns on March 18th. 

INSIDE

Excellence in Gameplay

  • Dark Souls III
  • Dishonored 2
  • DOOM
  • Firewatch
  • I Expect You To Die

Predictions: This one depends on the SXSW Gaming Awards panel. Dark Souls III is a marmite game, so depending on whether the panel loves or hates its gruelling difficulty and sprawling mechanical layout it’s make or break time. All nominated games present very different mechanics, however. I Expect You To Die could be considered the most innovative. Dishonored 2 would pick up the award if it was for best mechanical execution. It’s a tough one to call, but if it’s Dark Souls’ day it has a strong shot. 

Dark Souls III

Most Fulfilling Community-Funded Game

  • Darkest Dungeon
  • Hyper Light Drifter
  • Starbound
  • SUPERHOT
  • That Dragon, Cancer

Predictions: Hyper Light Drifter did amazingly well and touched a lot of players’ in a way that few had guessed it would. It definitely “excelled beyond the expectations set before it” and is my hot pick to grab the trophy. 

Most Promising New IP

  • Firewatch
  • Overwatch
  • Stardew Valley
  • SUPERHOT
  • Tom Clancy’s The Division

Predictions: I’m not entirely sure The Division “risked creating something fresh”. Stardew Valley has certainly been appreciated at awards shows, and we all know how Firewatch has cleaned up over the past year. In terms of being the ‘most promising’ however, i’d have to (through gritted teeth because let someone else have a shot) say Overwatch. There’s just so much more content on the way and so much development potential in the characters that Blizzard have created, it’s amazing for a game with no single player campaign. <Frowns at The Division again>

Overwatch in game screenshot

Most Memorable Character

  • Firewatch – Henry & Delilah
  • The Last Guardian – Trico
  • Overwatch – Tracer
  • Titanfall 2 – BT-7274
  • Uncharted 4 – Nathan Drake

Predictions: Anyone who knows me will know that I will readily profess my undying love for Nathan Drake, but I just don’t feel like he’ll cut it this year. Sure, he leaves an “overwhelming impression”, but he’s been building that impression over three whole games, culminating in a very touching but ultimately a development of his previous character. I would argue that the single most overwhelming impression i was left with at the end of a game was the result of Henry & Delilah’s friendship in Firewatch. There’s always room for Trico to swoop in on the night though. 

Firewatch Henry selfie

Excellence in Multiplayer

  • Battlefield 1
  • Gears of War 4
  • Overwatch
  • Speedrunners
  • Titanfall 2

Predictions: It would take a lot to knock Overwatch off its proud shelf, that’s all i’m saying.

Excellence in Convergence

  • Batman: Arkham VR
  • Batman: The Telltale Series
  • FIFA 17
  • NBA 2K17
  • Total War: WARHAMMER

Predictions: It’s actually been a brilliant year for crossing entertainment mediums. Batman: Arkham VR might not fit the bill completely because of the franchise’s already well established video game history, however their VR mission was incredible to behold. It was the VR turning point for many, and sold a few headsets by itself. That being said, Total War: WARHAMMER actually received a pretty golden reception and may be more representative of media convergence. 

Batman Arkham VR batsuit

Excellence in Art

  • Abzu
  • Firewatch
  • INSIDE
  • Overwatch
  • The Witness

Predictions: Finally a category Overwatch might not steal. Firewatch may still add the trophy to its collection, but i’m hopeful for the likes of Abzu and The Witness. 

Abzu graphics

Excellence in Animation

  • DOOM
  • INSIDE
  • The Last Guardian
  • Overwatch
  • Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

Predictions: This might be Uncharted’s time to shine, but INSIDE also have a pretty good grip on that trophy. 

Excellence in Visual Achievement

  • Battlefield 1
  • DOOM
  • Final Fantasy XV
  • Titanfall 2
  • Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

Predictions: Uncharted 4 looked gorgeous, let’s not forget that. Battlefield 1 puts up a good fight though, and DOOM is firmly in the running. Overall, i’m still holding onto Uncharted 4. 

Uncharted 4 Nathan Drake jumping

Excellence in Technical Achievement

  • Battlefield 1
  • No Man’s Sky
  • Overwatch
  • Pokemon GO
  • Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

Predictions: (AKA Unpopular Opinion Time) So i like No Man’s Sky. I’m just getting that out the way first because I truly believe that No Man’s Sky is the strongest contender for Excellence in Technical Achievement on face value. Its procedural generation and sheer size has never been attempted, or realised in such a smooth way before and it’s truly an amazing feat of technical achievement. It’s “pushed the capabilities of technology and programming” to an alarming degree, and much more, I would argue, than other nominees. Feel free to fight me on this down in the comments below though! 

No Man's Sky Galaxy Map

Excellence in Musical Score

  • DOOM
  • Final Fantasy XV
  • Hyper Light Drifter
  • The Last Guardian
  • Thumper

Predictions: Final Fantasy games always clean up in the music department, and I see no reason that 2017 should be any different. While Thumper and The Last Guardian are certainly battling it out with them, Final Fantasy XV has that special musical nostalgia that might set them apart. 

Excellence in SFX

  • Battlefield 1
  • Dishonored 2
  • INSIDE
  • Titanfall 2
  • Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

Predictions: Hands down, 100% the award for “the most outstanding and impactful sound effects” HAS to go to Battlefield 1. They used real life historical artefacts to recreate the actual sounds of battle and the team devoted their entire existence to making every tread, recoil, trigger pull, metal clang, and scrape sound authentic and natural. BBC’s The Gaming Show looked into Battlefield 1’s amazing sound so you can learn all about it over there if you’re reading from the UK. 

So there you have it. My predictions for SXSW Game Awards 2017 along with all the nominees. It’s going to be an incredibly interesting year, with several award show veterans facing off against late-2016 titles and independent hopefuls. Each category presents varied contenders, and represents a niche of the game development collective, so the SXSW gaming award show is a must watch for followers of the industry. What do you think of the list and predictions? Let me know down in the comments if you agree or disagree and we’ll fan it out.

You can bet we’ll be keeping track of wins on the night, so stay tuned for more SXSW news and information.

@MusingsTwit

 

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