It’s apparently that time of year once again, where Valve shows what the community voted on for the best games and updates of 2020, and everyone leaves scratching their head and wondering precisely what the rest of the Steam platform is currently doing with their library.
The Witcher 3, from CD Projekt Red, was nominated over every other title for the Labor of Love award, in spite of its most recent update (a hotfix for a DLC) being released mid-September of 2016.
Interestingly, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, the title that has become almost impossible to play without using third-party matchmaking services and received a whopping singular update this year, was also nominated for the Labor of Love award.
I always get a little chuckle out of the Steam Awards each year. I know it's voted but it's still funny to me. pic.twitter.com/WJB7oASLtp
— Dan Fornace (@danfornace) January 3, 2021
Feel free to puzzle as to how these titles were offered up beyond everything else on the store that we’ve covered in HG in the past twelve months.
Like almost every award generated since the dawn of man becoming infatuated with trophies, the Steam Awards are, at its very core, a popularity contest that holds very little weight; this popularity contest has consistently offered strange results.
Valve has recently pulled back the curtain on the winners, and we’ll highlight a few examples that have people frustrated.
Game of the Year Red Dead Redemption 2 – Rockstar
Released in 2018 for console, Rockstar graced the PC with finally bringing the title around more than a year later, and after a few fun exclusivity shenanigans, came to Steam on December 5, 2019 (which makes it eligible as Game Awards tend to ignore December of the current year).
The main story is a brilliant endeavor, but Rockstar has become infatuated with printing money after Grand Theft Auto 5 Online was offering mansions daily with Shark Cards; now, the online version of the game is still a bit of a sore to play, and they are expecting players to drop money for in-game currencies to play any content that they release.
This is on top of the outlandish behavior of Rockstar and Take-Two themselves, sending private investigators to harass mod makers and threatening anyone with litigation if it looks like something Rockstar can sell.
Red Dead Redemption 2 is a brilliant title of 2018 that showed little more than utter contempt for its audience and is arduous to explore online.
Game of the Year.
Some of the Steam Awards winners of 2020 pic.twitter.com/F3RBhCcIwx
— Agent Strange (@MrAgentStrange) January 3, 2021
Labor of Love Counter-Strike: Global Offensive – Valve
If you haven’t been willing to subject yourself to psychological terror, then you’ve missed out on a frustrating year of Counter-Strike even if we ignore what the pandemic has done to the professional scene.
Valve pushed out an anti-cheat layer called Trusted Mode that hilariously only manages to frustrate those that aren’t willing to cheat to bypass it, making streaming the title on any platform a headache and has riddled matches with cheaters the likes that haven’t been seen before.
With High Trust, full teams of spin-botters playing against other spin-botters are now the norm, in spite of Valve declaring that only one of every forty matches has a cheater.
All of one operation was brought to Counter-Strike as well, Operation Broken Fang (named after the anti-cheat, undoubtedly) after an entire year of absolute silence. To be fair, retakes were brought with the update, but the vast majority of content brought forth is Valve capitalizing on what the community has made by selling loot boxes.
This beat Terraria, a title that developers re-visited after originally shelving to bring hundreds of new mechanics and items, although it thankfully beat The Witcher 3 as well that had no business being here aside from as a by-product of the hype of Cyberpunk 2077.
Do let us know who you thought was robbed in this year's Steam Awards. https://t.co/oQaQRDkLYU
— PC Gamer (@pcgamer) January 3, 2021
Most Innovative Gameplay Death Stranding – Kojima Productions
This is likely the least controversial pick of the litter, depending on your viewpoint.
There is little argument against Kojima Productions not bringing something entirely new to gamers around the world that had many scratching their heads and wondering what in the fresh hell was going on.
High resolution renders of Monster Energy cans just brought the level of absurdity to new heights.
Outstanding Story-Rich Game Red Dead Redemption 2 – Rockstar
If you ignore the arguments regarding when RDR2 actually released, and that they treated Steam as a frankly second-best option, and you also turn a blind eye to how egregiously Rockstar and its parent Take-Two have interacted with the community, this is a solid choice.
Granted, you’re nearly gouging your eyes out to turn said blind eye, but it’s difficult to ignore the somber ballad of Arthur Morgan.
Just don’t try to mod it, lest you get hounded in court.
Less than a day left to cast your vote in The @Steam Awards!! If Hades left a strong impression on you, we'd really appreciate your vote for Game of the Year from our game page, linked below.🙏 #SteamWinterSale #HadesGame https://t.co/UUxglHDYKR
— Supergiant Games (@SupergiantGames) January 2, 2021
Best Game You Suck At Apex Legends – Respawn Entertainment
Apex Legends suffers from a bit of the same virus that RDR2 is afflicted with: it actually released early in 2019 on Origin, until it came over to Steam in late 2020 with the awkwardly produced EA Play on Steam.
Sit Back And Relax Sims 4 – Electronic Arts
The Sims 4 is another title suffering from when it actually released versus when it finally came to Steam, but the more frustrating aspect the community seems to have is with the gargantuan piles of DLC that Electronic Arts lobs at their consumers with little rhyme or reason (as is tradition for the studio).
During the Winter Sale, every DLC comes to $423. If you’re looking outside of a sale, expect to pay nearly $800 to get all content that still manages to come up short in comparison to its predecessor The Sims 3.
We could argue until we’re all blue in the face about which titles actually deserved what, and why these titles were nominated instead of others. In the end, however, these are the Steam Award winners that the community voted for in 2020.
That means something, from our understanding.