So The Steam Awards Were A Joke, Right?

I promise I’m not salty about the Steam Awards. To be perfectly honest, I don’t care about any game awards other than our own, especially community ones like the Steam Awards that allow anyone to vote. This isn’t a rant about how I disagree with the winners or my take on which games should have actually won. I’m legitimately asking this: were the awards winners selected as a joke?


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At least one of them is, there’s no doubt about it. Red Dead Redemption 2 winning the Labor of Love Award is the direct result of troll intervention, no debate. Despite launching five years after GTA Online, Red Dead Online was only supported for a few years before Rockstar abandoned it, something its fans haven’t been able to get over. It’s been over two years since RDO received any kind of content update, so there’s no possible way it won the Labor of Love award legitimately. This was a spite award, to be sure.

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The award description is confusing, and I’m unsure whether Valve is in on the joke or is just trying to play it off like there’s nothing going on here. “The team is well past the debut of their creative baby,” it says. “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.” No it’s not. There’s been a few new things like in the last year like telegram missions, but that’s it. What the heck is going on here?

If that’s a joke, we have to consider if all of them are. While it’s easy to believe that fans really did choose Baldur’s Gate 3 for the Outstanding Story-Rich Game Award and Game of the Year, others are more suspicious. Starfield’s award for Most Innovative Gameplay feels like a direct jab at Bethesda’s outdated approach to game design. The reception to Starfield has been mixed and plenty of people legitimately love it, but its lack of innovation in its gameplay seems to be the biggest criticism levied against it. It would be like giving Tears of the Kingdom an award for Most Original Open World Design or Overwatch 2 an award for Least Exploitative Microtransactions. I know Bethesda is happily accepting the award, but it feels like this is another award that was given facetiously.

red dead steam awards

I have no idea which Steam Awards are legit and which ones are backhanded. Hogwarts Legacy won Best Game on Steam Deck, but I haven’t heard anything about its Steam Deck performance, good or bad. If The Last of Us Part 1 won this award (it won Best Soundtrack, only because Alan Wake 2 is an Epic Game Store exclusive) then I would know it was a joke, because the TLOU was notoriously awful on Steam Deck at launch. Hogwarts Legacy isn’t a particularly mobile-friendly game the way roguelikes and life sims are, so I have no idea why this one specifically is considered the best Steam Deck game. I don’t think this one is ironic, but it is confusing.

For the most part the rest of them make sense. Lethal Company won the Better With Friends award because it was a huge multiplayer phenomenon at the end of the year. Dave the Diver won the Sit Back and Relax Award. Again, it makes sense. I’m confused about Atomic Heart’s award for Outstanding Visual Style, but I guess it had some funky-looking robots so I’ll give it a pass, even though Hi-Fi Rush is right there.

The problem is it only takes one successful troll vote to compromise the entire thing. I know Red Dead Redemption 2’s award is a joke, so I have to doubt all of them. It’s not a big deal, like I said, I don’t put stock into fan awards anyway. But it doesn’t seem like Steam is in on the joke, and Bethesda definitely isn’t. If these big companies are going to promote these awards as something to celebrate, they should probably be aware when they’re getting made fun of.

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