Steam’s 2023 GOTY nominations are extremely weird, and I guess that’s your fault

The description for Steam’s “Labor of Love” award reads as follows:

“This game has been out for a while. The team is well past the debut of their creative baby, but being the good parents they are, these devs continue to nurture and support their creation. This game, to this day, is still getting new content after all these years.”

Red Dead Redemption 2, a game that hasn’t received an update since 2020 by my reckoning, and has been famously rather undersupported compared to the GTA games or even its own predecessor, probably shouldn’t be nominated for such an award, right? And yet…

There’s similar weirdness to be found all the way through this year’s Steam Awards. In theory, it’s just democracy made manifest—users nominate games, and then vote on a shortlist of nominees. But come on, do you guys really think FC24 and Hogwarts Legacy are good picks for 2023’s Game of the Year?

Atomic Heart and High on Life are up for Outstanding Visual Style. Starfield is nominated for Most Innovative Gameplay. A game called Love is All Around, an awkward FMV dating sim, is up for Outstanding Story-Rich Game. Overwatch 2 is apparently one of the “Best Games You Suck At”, an award described as being for “the game that rewards persistence, and is not for the faint of heart.”. What’s going on here?

(Image credit: Blizzard)

I get how this sort of thing happens—ultimately when you throw these sorts of things out to the general public, lots of people will just click on the one game in a list that they recognise, or champion their favourites regardless of the wording of a category. And of course games are subjective, and people like different things and for different reasons. 

But I don’t think it’s controversial to say these nominations seem a little all over the place, and out of step with almost every other set of awards going. For me, it makes it all feel a bit meaningless. That’s a shame given how much work Valve clearly put into the presentation here, with gorgeous graphics, animated stickers to earn, and a user-friendly voting interface. Maybe it’s time to rethink the process a bit? Or am I just being a grumpy old games journo, and these nominations truly reflect the will of the people?

Voting closes later today, so the winners should be announced soon. The full list of nominations is: 

Game of the Year

FC24Lethal CompanyResident Evil 4Baldur’s Gate 3Hogwarts Legacy

VR Game of the Year

Ghosts of TaborF1 23Gorilla TagI Expect You To Die 3: Cog in the MachineLabyrinthine

Labor of Love

RustDeep Rock GalacticDota 2Red Dead Redemption 2Apex Legends

Best Game on Steam Deck 

Diablo 4DredgeBrotatoHogwarts LegacyThe Outlast Trials

Better With Friends 

Sons of the ForestSunkenlandWarhammer 40,000: DarktideLethal CompanyParty Animals

Outstanding Visual Style

CocoonDarkest Dungeon 2InwardAtomic HeartHigh on Life

Most Innovative Gameplay 

Your Only Move is HustleStarfieldShadows of DoubtContraband PoliceRemnant 2

Best Game You Suck At

Lords of the FallenFC 24SifuStreet Fighter 6Overwatch 2

Best Soundtrack

Hi-Fi RushThe Last of Us Part 1Chants of SenaarPizza TowerPersona 5 Tactica

Outstanding Story-Rich Game

Love is All AroundResident Evil 4Baldur’s Gate 3Lies of PStar Wars Jedi: Survivor

Sit Back and Relax

Cities Skylines 2Coral IslandDave the DiverTrain Sim World 4Potion Craft

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