Let's get this over with, first and foremost: there are much more pressing things to blow a fuse about, but Steam users do have a bee in their bonnet over the outcome of the awards. Unlike other ceremonies to recognise excellence in games, Valve has a different decision-making process. These categories, chosen by the company, overlap in some areas, like the Game of the Year Award and the Outstanding Visual Style Award, but others are little offbeat, like the Best Game You Suck At Award, which is evidently self-explanatory. Steam users are then invited to put forward one game available on Steam for that particular category.
Then, Valve takes stock of the entries and offers the top five games of those 15 million nominations for the final round of voting. Steam users vote once in each category, and then the winners are announced. The thing is, it looks like the results have rubbed users up the wrong way, and honestly, their reasonings are valid in some cases. For example, Red Dead Redemption 2 won the Game of the Year Award, beating games that did release in that year like DOOM Eternal, Fall Guys, and Hades. Even those who didn't vibe with Hades' demanding yet tempting roguelike elements thought it was strange that a two-year old game reigned supreme.
Criticism was levelled at Counter-Strike: Global Offensive's win in the category of Labor of Love. Competing with games like Among Us, Terraria, The Witcher 3, and No Man's Sky, the requirements for this commendation were the continued support and content for the game, irrespective of the year it was released. Though it fulfils these, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive has hit the headlines for its gambling and match-fixing scandals, as well as its problematic loot boxes. In sum, Steam users weren't thrilled that games that were not released in 2020 were winning awards in 2020, in spite of the fact that the nominations were initially determined by the users themselves.
"Allowing the community to vote means it can only ever be a popularity contest. Folks aren't going to vote for games they haven't heard of, and they're going to prefer to vote for games they've actually played," said Reddit user naturemage. Others cited the issue that users gain Steam Award Trading Cards by voting in the Steam Awards. As a result, people might be voting because they want these cards, which are transformable into a badge, and that badge earns the user Steam XP. The argument goes that their votes might not be grounded in the most rational of explanations purely because they're after these digital goodies.
"I understand where peoples' complaints are coming from but this is after all The STEAM Awards, the only release date that matters is when the game was released on Steam," offered Reddittortilla. "Correct me if I'm wrong but I believe it is similiar [sic] with the Oscars - a movie is eligible for the Academy Award in the year it was first screened in US theatres." As sure as eggs are eggs. However, the popularity of older games in the 2020 Steam Awards illuminates a flaw in its system... or it's working perfectly. Depending on who you ask.
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