LOS ANGELES — Wearing blazers and bedazzled attire, downing cocktails, swapping business gossip, and hobnobbing with a few of Hollywood’s greatest names, the celebrities of America’s online game business assembled on Thursday night time for a long-delayed reunion on the Game Awards.
The lavish occasion was a victory lap of kinds for the online game group. While the film business has fretted over ticket gross sales and cannibalization by streaming companies like Netflix, the online game business has enjoyed tremendous growth in the course of the pandemic. An estimated 2.9 billion individuals — multiple out of each three individuals on the planet — have performed a online game this yr, in accordance with the online game analytics agency Newzoo.
Thursday’s awards had been additionally a welcome alternative for the business to assemble below the identical roof, since final yr’s occasion was held on-line due to the pandemic. Gaming luminaries arrived on the crimson carpet on the huge Microsoft Theater in downtown Los Angeles, joined by celebrities higher identified for his or her work in different leisure industries.
Sting, the rock music icon, was backed by an orchestra as he opened the present with a efficiency of the haunting music “What Could Have Been” from the Netflix sequence “Arcane,” which is predicated on the online game hit “League of Legends.” The hit band Imagine Dragons carried out “Enemy,” one other music featured in “Arcane.”
The rapper and comic Lil Dicky informed some jokes in a video spot. Paul George, a basketball star who performs for the native Clippers, towered above the group. And there have been appearances — some in individual and some through video — by the tv and movie stars Will Arnett, Ming-Na Wen, Jim Carrey and Keanu Reeves.
If you had been choosing up on a crossover theme, you’d have been right. And when you had the sensation that the Game Awards had been a bit like another very elaborate Los Angeles entertainment award events, you’d even have been on the nostril.
At the middle of the gaming business’s reply to the Oscars was Geoff Keighley, the online game and tv character who created and hosts the annual occasion and who tried, with seemingly countless reserves of vitality and enthusiasm, to steer an more and more antsy viewers by means of greater than three hours of awards shows and trailers for upcoming video games, interspersed with music from the orchestra.
The present started in 2014 and has attracted thousands and thousands extra eyeballs annually on YouTube and Twitch. Last yr’s totally distant model garnered 83 million dwell streams, in accordance with organizers, and Mr. Keighley stated after Thursday’s present that he anticipated extra individuals to have watched dwell this yr, although preliminary numbers weren’t but accessible.
The glee so evident on Mr. Keighley’s face stemmed from a easy motive: Finally, after almost two years of Zoom calls and digital hangouts, the business was again collectively in the identical room. “I missed it,” he stated in an interview after the present.
Many among the many mask-wearing, invitation-only crowd stated they may not imagine the occasion was actually taking place.
“It’s great, but a little overwhelming,” Hannah Kennedy, a Twitch streamer who goes by bnans, stated within the crowded foyer after the present. “We’ve been in quarantine for so long, but it’s really nice to actually get to hang out with everyone again and see each other after two years.”
More than two dozen awards had been handed out in classes like finest motion recreation and finest artwork route. The most prestigious title, recreation of the yr, went to “It Takes Two,” a two-player puzzle journey recreation developed by Hazelight Studios a couple of married couple navigating a divorce and journeying by means of a fantastical world.
Microsoft’s gaming division introduced house plenty of awards, with “Age of Empires IV” successful finest technique recreation, “Halo Infinite” successful a fan award referred to as gamers’ voice, and “Forza Horizon 5,” a car-racing recreation, taking house three honors. “Deathloop,” a first-person taking pictures recreation developed by Arkane Studios, additionally gained a number of awards.
The winners had been decided by a vote of business insiders and most people.
For many watching, although, the awards had been only a sideshow. The Game Awards can also be utilized by the business to introduce new recreation bulletins and debut trailers for upcoming titles. If viewers response is any indication, the fantasy recreation “Elden Ring” continues to be one in all subsequent yr’s most hotly anticipated titles.
There has been an explosion in gross sales for the reason that final time the online game world gathered. New recreation consoles from Microsoft and Sony have been in excessive demand and brief provide. Game publishers like Electronic Arts and Riot Games have reported report revenues. And Roblox, an on-line recreation world fashionable with youngsters, debuted on the stock exchange, topping a $45 billion valuation on its first day of buying and selling.
The elevated mainstream curiosity in on-line worlds has additionally been a validation for business insiders and players that had been utilizing the time period “metaverse” years earlier than Mark Zuckerberg determined that Facebook was going to change its name to Meta. Even Mr. Carrey, showing on the awards present on a prerecorded video, joked about it.
“I’m sorry I couldn’t be there with you, but I look forward to meeting all of your avatars in the metaverse, where we can really get to know each other,” he stated.
As the business has grown, it has confronted rising challenges, none extra urgent Thursday night time than the remedy of its staff. A shadow was solid over the occasion by the scandal trailing Activision Blizzard — the sport writer that has been below fireplace for months following a lawsuit from California accusing it of fostering a office atmosphere during which mistreatment and harassment of girls was commonplace.
A handful of protesters stood with indicators supporting Activision staff exterior the theater Thursday night, and Mr. Keighley confronted stress within the lead-up to the occasion to sentence the corporate.
He tweeted final week that Activision wouldn’t be part of the awards present, and he opened the occasion by saying that “game creators need to be supported by the companies that employ them.”
“We should not, and will not, tolerate any abuse, harassment and predatory practices,” Mr. Keighley stated, although he didn’t point out Activision by identify. Rob Kostich, the president of Activision, is on the board of advisers for the Game Awards.
Before the occasion, Mr. Keighley stated in an interview that he wished to strike a steadiness between utilizing his platform for good and sustaining the upbeat vibe of an awards present.
“Are we going to use our platform to take companies to task publicly inside the show? It’s always something worth thinking about,” he stated, “but it’s not a referendum on the industry.”