At Geoff Keighley’s 2019 Game Awards show, Death Stranding was represented in many categories. It won three of them: Best Game Direction, Best Performance, and Best Score & Music. What it did not win is Game Of The Year, which went to Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice.
This is a defeat for Kojima, because even though he won smaller awards, everybody knows that unless you’re competing in a specific genre (Best Fighting Game, Best Racing Game, etc.) there’s only one award that really matters, and it’s Game Of The Year. Any publication or website can have their own GOTY award, but this is an industry award show, meaning that it is voted on by fellow developers and professionals. Fans could vote online for their favorite game in a separate category.
After bad sales and mixed reviews, losing the GOTY award at Geoff Keighley’s own award show is a sad way to end the year for the most honored celebrity designer in the world. If he had won there would also have been major controversy, of course, since the game has major flaws and the mixed reviews were not being contrarian and biased. The idea that Geoff Keighley would somehow favor Kojima is a nice joke, since he’s such a shameless and unprofessional shill for his best friend, but he was correct when he said that he doesn’t decide the winners and losers.
Personally I agree with Sekiro winning Game Of The Year. It was far ahead of the 2019 competition in terms of raw creative content, polish, and satisfying design. And contrary to what naysayers assume, it’s a totally different style of gameplay from Dark Souls. High mobility, no character creation or stats to manage, stealth, and speed are very different from trudging along with a big shield and a stamina meter. The story was good and original, and the overall audio-visual power was impressive.
Musician Ludvig Forssell accepted his award with a speech that concluded how thankful he was to “…fans who inspired us to do something super weird, and I hope we can keep on doing weird shit going forward.” I wonder if he really means that fans inspired them to be weird? How did fans inspire that, exactly?
When Kojima accepted Best Game Director, he says that a lot of people “started this ship going with us”. He refers to his company as being “a small boat” multiple times as he thanks the collaborators and staff. Interesting choice of words.