Now that we've let the fake awards with no real meaning have some breathing room (gotta make those dev$/publi$hers$ happy, you know), we can finally let our readers know our true thoughts about gaming in 2017. If you're ready for some hard to swallow truths and controversial opinions, read on. If that sounds like too much for you to handle, well........
Read on to find an award staple of the Kekkies dealt a mortal blow, a unsurprising win for Electronic Arts, and something about praying mantis lovemurder. Will Star Wars Battlefront II show much competition for the best Star Wars Game of All Time Award (originally awarded to Star Wars: Battlefront II (mind the colon))? Probably not. Will we find some way to give Cuphead yet another award (seriously, in our fake awards it took 4 of the 8 awards, and 2 of the 8 it wasn't even eligible for)?
Without further ado, it is my great pleasure to announce the winners of the 24th Annual Kekkies Awards!
The "It's a Tide Ad" Advertising Award (for bringing in-game and out-of-game advertising to a whole new level) - Overwatchhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qEa2a2b7Bys
By Anson ChanBlizzard is one of the most well-respected and renowned names in gaming, responsible for the creation of some of the most innovative and popular franchises of our time including Diablo, Starcraft, and Warcraft. With their latest new franchise, Overwatch, Blizzard did it again and revolutionized the face of marketing by creating a game that serves as an entirely new vector for bringing advertisements to millions of people across the world.
See, it may be impressive enough that Overwatch has a playerbase that is the size of a small country, but Blizzard struck marketing gold when they created the Overwatch League, a multi-month event where hundreds of thousands of people from the game’s audience watch hours upon hours of subliminal, liminal, and superliminal advertisements to get 1/100th of an in-game skin that represents a city that they statistically would have little to no connection to.
The best part is that the Overwatch League is all-inclusive; there is no discrimination based on race, gender, or sexual orientation because, at the end of the day, every viewer is a statistic for some marketing guy’s spreadsheet somewhere. A veritable smorgasbord of products for all kinds of demographics are represented in the League as well, ranging from Sour Patch Kids, McDonald's, and Jack in the Box, to Omen by HP, to all sorts of hair dyes and gels, and more and more corporations are jumping on the bandwagon each day.
Also, the best Overwatch players in the world compete for money.
Anyways, it may have taken a while for Blizzard to roll out the Overwatch League patch, but fans of the game will practically unanimously agree that it was the most impactful addition to the game since Doomfist. Unfortunately, there is the minor issue of one or two League players who have landed in some less than flattering drama, ultimately forcing Blizzard to lay down the rules to keep the League marketable, but when you have to keep your favorite streamer/professional Esports player’s public image clean, there’s always Tide.
Maximum Games' Maximum Effort Award (for the perfect game) - Troll and I
By Samuool GooglilmeoLet me tell you guys about Troll and I. It’s the perfect video game.
It’s perfect because it features …
Look, I can’t do this. The joke was that Troll and I is a bad video game, but I was going to say it’s perfect. Do you get it? Isn’t that a funny joke? No, it’s not; it’s a dumb joke that holds little value. The truth is I just wanted to talk about Troll and I again.
How can I not? It’s a video game where you hang out with the world’s strangest looking troll who gets captured, and I think the game seriously tried to set it up as a Jesus metaphor. The game lingers on the totally unrelated note that Stalin is dead, something that has nothing to do with the plot. Combat is awkward and isn’t any fun to play. Puzzles are boring and take way too long to solve. It has strange glitches where everything violently shakes for no reason. It makes co-op super boring.
Yet it is the most interesting game that Maximum Games published in 2017 for some awful reason. This is a year where we saw efforts from them like Road Rage, a motorcycle combat/RPG hybrid that most people forgot about because Road Redemption did it all better. Or Dead Alliance, a zombie FPS that I didn’t even know existed until I wrote this.
So this is Maximum Games’ Maximum Effort. Troll and I. I spent my 24th birthday playing it for TechRaptor just so I could give it a 2. You’re welcome.
The "We're No Longer Waiting for the Sequel" Award - Half-Life 2: Episode 2
The third award announced used to be the spot for our "Can't Wait for the Sequel" Award. Now that dream is dead and so is the award.
The Anakin Skywalker "What Have I Done?!" Award (for a game that clearly respects the feedback of its intended audience with no regrettable backlash whatsoever - Star Wars Battlefront 2 (Super Honorable Mention - Destiny 2)
By Anson ChanThere is little doubt that Star Wars is a huge part of modern culture—you know you’ve made it big when a movie character appears on packaging for vegetables—so, logically, you would think that making a Star Wars game with top-of-the-line graphics and sound effects would be like printing money. All you have to do is attach a trustworthy, adored, and respected developer and publisher to the game, and what company in the gaming industry fits that description better than Electronic Arts?
Long story short, EA took all the feedback that they received from their previous game, tuned into the things that every gamer likes, and totally put it into Star Wars Battlefront 2. As it turns out, that’s a winning strategy as people just couldn’t stop talking about the game. Some of the largest and most influential news corporations covered the game for weeks on end and, surprisingly enough, a very well-received and completely uncontroversial movie was made for the sole purpose of promoting the release of the game. Even politicians jumped onto the Star Wars Battlefront 2 craze, with at least one proposing a series of laws to his state’s legislature to make it easier for everyone to buy the game. For all intents and purposes, December 2017 was the month of Star Wars Battlefront 2.
There was some grumbling about how you initially couldn’t obtain random rewards that had a rather noticeable impact on Star Wars Battlefront 2’s gameplay with real money, as people really wanted to replicate and amplify the feeling of going to an arcade and pumping quarters into a machine, but EA finally relented after a couple of months despite their reservations about such a move. Other developers have tried to replicate EA’s revolutionary strategy of listening to their fanbase and developing and tweaking their game based on feedback but so far, only one other developer, Bungie, has succeeded in creating a much beloved and long lasting game that doesn’t treat its audience like a bunch of walking wallets.
Best Romance Award ...? (for going the extra mile to prove that love bites) - Don't Make Love
By Amanda BowerIndie games are sometimes the real treasures of the video game industry. You’ve got a small team of individuals probably chilling in a basement, brainstorming quirky and innovative ideas to execute a fresh video game. Personally, I’m a huge fan of the indie game genre. Don’t Make Love (developed by Maggese) is a good example as to why.
Players assume the role of a male or female praying mantis head-over-heels in love. The two love bugs stand in a serene field of sorts, holding one another’s little hands. The romantic atmosphere is so bizarre but comical all the same. Everything may seem swell and jolly, except it’s not. Unfortunately, the female praying mantis viciously bites off the male’s head promptly after intercourse. Yikes. Don’t Make Love requires you to type responses to the mantis gazing ever so deeply into your beautiful bug eyes in an attempt to persuade them to mate with you. The experience, as a whole, goes to show that bugs have relationship problems, too. Luckily, the tiny creatures are able to overcome them – even if a morbid death appears to be the only outcome. If they can do it, anyone can.
Are you a little freaked out? Or perhaps … bugged out? *insert finger guns*
Best New Game You've Never Heard of On Steam - [Not Awarded]
By Shaun JoyLook, do you want to go through this pile of games? I didn't think so.
The Commander Shepard Award (for excellent leadership and decision-making) - Electronic Arts
By Connor FossElectronic Arts used to be a name that inspired fear and worry among gamers everywhere. After all, they were voted the Worst Company in America twice! That's pretty impressive, but thankfully for all of us, we can rest easy. EA turned it all around in just one year. Really, 2017 was a banner year for the gaming giant.
EA started off with a bang in March last year. While some fools were busy in yet another post-apocalypse snorefest called Horizon Zero Dawn and others were busy flipping the Switch for the first time with another boring, iterative Zelda title, EA's company BioWare were busy forging a new path. Mass Effect: Andromeda was the start of another fantastic space adventure. This technical marvel pushed the Frostbite engine to its absolute limits, proving how successful it can be to cram a game into the confines of an engine that was never built to handle games of their scale. After the game's rave reviews and stellar sales, EA chose to not rest on its laurels. They were proactive and instead of developing more content for the game, they chose to move everyone on to other projects. How selfless!
Next on their list of to-dos was some house cleaning. Visceral Games, developers of the Dead Space series and an upcoming single-player Star Wars game penned by the excellent Amy Hennig, was fixing to make a creative narrative and exciting game. However, let's be real. Single player games aren't really all that good or successful anymore. Just ask 2017 critical and commercial flops like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Horizon: Zero Dawn, NieR: Automata, Prey, Resident Evil 7: biohazard, Subnautica, Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, Hollow Knight, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, The Evil Within 2, Super Mario Odyssey, Persona 5, Assassin's Creed: Origins, What Remains of Edith Finch, or Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice.
Clearly, EA is ahead of the curve, so with no way to get multiplayer or monetization into the game, they went ahead and made the smart decision to cancel that Star Wars title and, just for good measure, chose to close Visceral Studios. Better safe than sorry! Wouldn't want them getting any more silly ideas!
Not even content with their massive success, EA chose to ramp it up with their coup de grace: the release of Star Wars: Battlefront II later in the year. Fans went absolutely crazy at the content the game had to offer. Lootboxes that give you a verifiable and real edge in PvP combat? Grinding for 40 hours to unlock characters that were previously unlocked in the first game in order to get a sense of achievement? Why hasn't anyone ever thought of this before? EA continues to prove themselves as the Nostradamus of our time, day in and day out. They know the future before we do. They sadly buckled under pressure from the unknowing masses and removed the ability to pay for these lootboxes, before turning the entire system on its head and removing the ability to get these stat-boosting items from lootboxes altogether. What a shame that the world doesn't understand EA's genius.
Thankfully, EA managed to finish off the year strong with their excellent Need for Speed: Payback. This is the second reboot of the series in two years, showing just how committed EA is to reinventing itself. Remember the old, lame, lazy way you would unlock better parts to customize your car and make it better? Racing, earning in-game money and buying what you want or need? What are you, 90? EA had a better idea: What if lootboxes but for essential car parts to make your car better? Will you be able to race in higher level races or will you be stuck grinding for more lootboxes for hours and hours (or buying them, because why wouldn't you, duh?) As you'd expect, Need for Speed: Payback scored and sold exceedingly well and is doing wonders for the company.
Have I convinced you yet? Have you finally seen the turnaround that EA had in 2017? It's incredible, isn't it? Thankfully, with the extremely promising Anthem coming to store shelves in 2018 (when we say 2018, we mean it in the sense of "actually 2019 now"), I'm excited to see where this ship is headed next.
The "Needs to Learn What A Fulcrum Is" Award (for the worst company at balancing their games) - Blizzard Entertainment
By Shaun JoyEven a snail is faster than Blizzard is when it comes to balance in all of their games. Hearthstone was plagued by balance issues for a majority of the year, with cards like Patches the Pirate and Corridor Creeper making their way into every deck mostly because of how overpowered they were. When it comes to Hearthstone, there are only a few decks at a time at the top of the meta, as opposed to all classes having viable decks that can compete. With Overwatch, all you have to look at is the Mercy handling. How they revamped the character and then had balance issues for A HALF OF A YEAR. There's being deliberate with your balancing and then there's being as slow as Duke Nukem Forever's development time. Which then caused everyone to hate Mercy mains because they were in every game, or everyone hated having to fill in as Mercy because of how needed she was. Then they nerfed her, then nerfed her, then nerfed her again, to the point where she's not a fun character to play as anymore.
So basically, someone needs to teach Blizzard the principles of Balance.
What did we get right? What did we miss?
KekRaptor is our semi-regular satire series. You can read more of them here.