It was an exciting night for video games tonight as Geoff Keighley took over the internet with his annual Game Awards. The industry’s best and brightest came out in droves both in person and online to watch, compete against, and congratulate one another for one of gaming’s highest honors. It was an exciting night for every corner of gaming…except virtual reality.
This was the first year that The Game Awards featured a “Best VR Game” category. This in and of itself is a satisfying coup for our fledgling industry, but the nominees themselves raised some eyebrows. All of the suggested award winners are PlayStation VR titles with zero Rift or Vive exclusives on the list. Take a look at the nominees for yourself:
- Batman: Arkham VR (Rocksteady Studios/WBIE) [Review: 5/10]
- EVE: Valkyrie (CCP Games) [Review: 9/10]
- Job Simulator (Owlchemy Labs) [Review: 8/10]
- Rez Infinite (Enhance Games) [Review: 8/10] (Winner)
- Thumper (Drool) [Review: 9/10]
None of these are bad games at all. Most of them are great actually, and one are two are even amazing. However, they are all tied specifically to the PlayStation VR, the most “mainstream” headset out there and do nothing to acknowledge the amazing and innovative experiences available on the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive — names just as respected as “Sony” in the land of VR, if not more so.
The night’s winner, Rez Infinite, is a truly beautiful experience that has made several VR luminaries, including the grandfather of the entire industry, Palmer Luckey, break down in tears. It is certainly worthy of an award, it would just be more meaningful if its competition was a better reflection of the entire VR landscape in 2016.
Even the way the “Best VR Game” was announced was something of a let down. Keighley simply stated the winner with no preamble, acceptance, or on-screen information. There was zero showmanship. No one even took the stage to accept the award because it happened so quickly and it even occurred before the show officially started (during what was called the “pre-show”).
Augmented Reality also got it’s share of praise as the global sensation Pokemon GO unsurprisingly snatched the “Best Mobile Game” trophy for Niantic, as well as “Best Family Game”.
All in all, tonight was a reflection of VR’s place in mainstream games journalism as a whole. We’re here, they see us, but they aren’t quite ready to fully pay attention just yet.
There’s always next year.