Game Of The Year: Can Anyone Really Beat Nintendo In 2023?
— 17 July 2023

Game Of The Year: Can Anyone Really Beat Nintendo In 2023?

— 17 July 2023
Chris Singh
Chris Singh

What will be Game of the Year in 2023? That’s always a tough question and this year’s answer may be the most predictable since the award was introduced in 2014. But it’s still worth examining. If nothing else, to highlight just how many great games that are coming out this year that are not named Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom.

Because, while I agree that the new Zelda game is incredibly deserving of such an accolade, it’s almost unfair just how large a shadow Nintendo has cast over the entire gaming industry in 2023.

Pitchfork has its annual round-up of the year’s best albums and just about every entertainment website has an opinion on the best shows of the year. While ranked rounds-ups are rote by now and often fall victim to a pack mentality amongst seemingly expert judges, a few single-category institutions still hold weight in the entertainment industry.

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The Academy Award for Best Picture, for example, has been a hotly debated, keenly watched category since the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences presented the first award back in 1929. It’s still the holy grail of nods for Tinseltown, directing consumer attention so swiftly that we rarely question how meaningful the difference is between winner and runner-up.

Awards are important because they direct spend, reward singularities and serve as authoritative stamps of approval from both critics and the wider public. The majority of the public may have become cynical about these things, but there’s still a lot of utility in seemingly authoritative people who know what they are talking about (AKA, experts) deeming something the must-have, must-see or must-use product of the year.

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What Is Game Of The Year & Why Does It Matter?

Elden Ring was named Game of the Year in 2022.

Game of the Year is the crème de la crème for game publishers and developers and each year fiery debates pop up on all corners of the internet.

For the gaming industry, which in 2024 is projected to be worth $294 billion, having the biggest slice of the pie matters a great deal. That’s not to say all the unsuccessful nominees for a year-end award such as Game of the Year will be struggling when the new year hits. Far from it. But there’s still a lot riding on such strong optics.

If Nintendo does, in fact, have it in the bag, the new Zelda game will not only move more units, it will lock in more guaranteed sales for the Switch and continue the hybrid console’s dominance going into 2024. For a gaming console that’s nearing the tail-end of its generation, that’s very rare and will position Nintendo at the top when it announces its new gaming machine.

And success in the gaming industry locks in fan-serving sequels, allows companies to produce better content and encourages developers to be more innovative. Give someone a reputation and they will work their hardest to live up to it.

The award takes a broad approach in its judgement criteria but is usually seen as a reliable and trustworthy indicator of the utmost quality by consumers and those within the industry. This is because each year The Game Awards chooses a winner based on both a panel of experts and public voting. This is skewed because public voting is just as tricky, if not more so, than relying entirely on a panel. As of right now, the award is based on a 90% judging panel and 10% public voting.

For the judging panel, The Game Awards wrangles together 100 video game media and influencer outlets, all of whom have been “specifically selected” for their expertise and trustworthiness in critically evaluating video games. Each outlet is asked to submit an unranked ballot of what they think are the top five games of the year and which titles have the most nominations are shortlisted.

The public vote, on the other hand, is usually conducted by The Game Awards via social media and its official website. Last year, the organisers used Discord but in previous years it was mostly Facebook and Twitter.

These have been the previous Game of the Year award winners since the award was first introduced in 2014.

  • 2014 – Dragon Age: Inquisition (BioWare)
  • 2015 – The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (CD Projekt Red)
  • 2016 – Overwatch (Blizzard Entertainment)
  • 2017 – The Legend of Zelda: Breathe of the Wild (Nintendo EPD)
  • 2018 – God of War (Santa Monica Studio)
  • 2019 – Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice (FromSoftware)
  • 2020 – The Last of Us (Naughty Dog)
  • 2021 – It Takes Two (Hazelight Studios)
  • 2022 – Elden Ring (FromSoftware)

What Will Be Game Of The Year In 2023

In my mind, there are only two video games that could possibly dethrone Zelda and come through with the surprise slam dunk at the end of the year. The first was the biggest talk of the industry until Zelda came along, that being Hogwarts Legacy. The immersive, open-world game based on the Wizarding World of Harry Potter was developed by Avalanche Software and was released back in February.

I personally didn’t pay much attention to it, given I’m not really a fan of Harry Potter. And yet the game almost immediately exploded into public consciousness through a great deal of controversy (there were some boycotts) and a load of critical acclaim. Plus massive commercial success. Surprisingly, Hogwarts Legacy sold over 12 million copies and raked in US$850 million in just two weeks.

However, Zelda sold 10 million copies in three days. Nintendo is making bank.

The second game that I think could be in contention is Diablo 4. The game made US$666 million for Blizzard Activision in just five days, breaking the publisher’s sales record and becoming a wildly successful endeavour both critically and commercially.

Not only should that show you just how big of a deal gaming still is, but it shows that it’s not just Zelda that is putting all sorts of numbers on the board.

The Best 'Resident Evil' Game In The Franchise Is Getting A New-Gen Remake This Month
The Resident Evil 4 remake was a major success for Capcom.

There are a few other games I think will get shortlisted but I don’t see them winning Game of the Year this time arond. The very attractive Dead Space Remake is one. Available on both Xbox Series X|S and PS5, the faithful rebuild of one of the greatest horror survival games of our time is a perfect illustration of just how powerful consoles have become. But it’s still just a remake. The same goes for the Resident Evil 4 Remake, which has to date been one of my favourite games of the year. It too was met with instant acclaim and introduced an entire new generation to the revolutionary horror game. Again, it’s still just a remake.

Does Starfield have a chance? Betheda’s upcoming sci-fi epic could be a sleeper hit even though brand-new IPs are always risky territory. Plus, Bethesda hasn’t been at its best in quite a while. If it’s anything like previous games from the publisher, like Fallout 4 and Rage 2, there will be too many initial bugs in the game for it to be considered anything but a work-in-progress.

I think unless Final Fantasy 16 significantly refreshes the long-running RPG series, many will like but not love it.

All eyes are on Marvel’s Spider-Man 2.

Aside from that, there’s not much else that really has a chance. Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 will be undoubtedly hit hard, but it will likely be too similar to its predecessor to bring anything new to the table. At least nothing as game-changing as Nintendo somehow finding a genius way to take a Zelda game and complement it with mind-bending Minecraft-esque freedom.

Street Fighter 6, perhaps? Nah. Fighters don’t really have that broad appeal anymore and the Mortal Kombat 1 remake looks far more interesting. Star Wars Jedi Survivor? That could be a shoo-in for the shortlist, considering that it’s now touted as one of the best single-player Star Wars games ever made. Yet, I still think the appeal is too limited to make it a proper GOTY contender. At least not in the same year as the almighty Zelda.

There’s no God of War this year. Nothing from FromSoftware aside from a potential Elden Ring DLC. If there were, then perhaps Zelda would be getting some actual competition. Unless Hogwarts Legacy pulls a surprise, and it very well could, then I think Nintendo does in fact have this one in the bag. It’s well deserved.

I guess we’ll find out in December.

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Chris Singh
Chris is a freelance Travel, Food, and Technology writer. He has had work published by The AU Review, Junkee Media and Australian Traveller Media and holds tertiary qualifications in Psychology and Sociology.


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