If anyone still has any doubts over the place of video games in modern culture, then it may be a good idea to direct them to The Game Awards to get a glimpse of the event’s ever-increasing audience. With over 11.5 million livestream viewers this year, The Game Awards is putting up viewership numbers that can rival more “traditional” content; for context, the Game of Thrones season finale in August 2017 attracted 12.1 million viewers and the 69th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards clocked in some 11.4 million viewers. The Oscars, which were insulted by A Way Out developer Josef Fares during The Game Awards, still reign supreme in the category with over 32 million viewers this year. Needless to say, it would be unwise for anyone to underestimate gaming as a mere hobby now, and it may prove to be equally unwise to ignore The Game Awards’ influence.
Compared to The Game Awards’ previous viewership numbers, this year’s audience size is staggering. When The Game Awards first launched in 2014, there were some 1.9 million people watching the Awards’ livestream. The next year, there were 2.3 million viewers. In 2016, 3.8 million people watched the Awards, almost double the number that watched the inaugural show two years ago. This year, the 11.5 million person audience represented a 200% increase in viewership compared to 2016. One point to consider is that this year had multiple organizations doing giveaways, including Twitch, Steam and Mixer. When talking with them, they said they don’t know how many were opening multiple videos, but they also don’t know about any groups who watched it together for the statistics.
Of course, being that games are an interactive medium, it only makes sense for The Game Awards to keep track of how people are interacting with the show. According to Twitch, 70% of the audience watching The Game Awards interacted with the Twitch Extension to complete over 700,000 awards predictions throughout the broadcast. Valve also reported that the average viewer on Steam Broadcasting watched the live Awards show for 70 minutes, while Nielsen gave the Awards the honor of being the most social 24/7 program on December 7, 2017. Twitter similarly reported that The Game Awards was the most trending topic on the platform during the broadcast.
Needless to say, it didn’t hurt that this year’s Awards show featured the world premiere of Death Stranding’s new trailer, announcements for Bayonetta 3, Soulcalibur VI, and a few other games, and the appearance of notable celebrities like Justin Roiland, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Conan O’Brien, and Andy Serkis.
“We are thrilled by the viewership, engagement and reaction to The Game Awards this year,” said Geoff Keighley, the Awards’ executive producer. “With triple digit viewership gains across the board, plus record setting social media metrics, one thing is clear: video games and gamer continue to grow in importance and prominence on the pop culture landscape.”
Originally launched in 2014 by Keighly, The Game Awards is, as the name suggests, an annual awards ceremony that seeks to highlight some of the best video game creators of the year, give a glimpse of future developments in the industry, and occasionally address some of the problems of the hobby. Guided by an advisory board that represents some of the largest companies in gaming such as Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo, Ubisoft, and EA, The Game Awards has built up quite a reputation over the years, and it showed during the 2017 Game Awards.