The Game Awards 2021: Everything you need to know


Christmas in July? How about E3 in December? That’s what The Game Awards have become under Geoff Keighley since the host of Spike TV’s former year-end roundup started his own production in 2014. Fans, insiders, and industry luminaries alike now look to a Thursday in December with the kind of anticipation usually found at a major midyear expo.

Here is everything a fan needs to know to get ready for next week’s showcase.

When are The Game Awards 2021?

The Game Awards 2021 are being held at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. The live broadcast begins at 8 p.m. EST on Thursday, Dec. 9, and is scheduled to go until 11 p.m. Fans can catch the show through its official website, the usual streaming options YouTube and Twitch, and social media venues such as Facebook, TikTok, and Twitter.

What will be shown?

Although it’s ostensibly an end-of-year awards show, more fans tune in to The Game Awards for E3-style game announcements and trailers than for red-carpet interviews and onstage acceptance speeches. Keighley said in a podcast earlier this week that he expects that “more than half” of the show will consist of new game announcements.

Those ~90 minutes of game hype will include at least two current-console-generation games that will get a lot of attention, according to Keighley. The first two trailers on deck are “surprises that will make people excited,” he said, and others will involve games that are three to four years from launching.

To give a sense of the scale of announcements that The Game Awards get, last year’s show featured Back 4 Blood’s debut trailer and teased the next Mass Effect and Dragon Age games, although the lineup was thinned somewhat by the dent that the COVID-19 pandemic put in development plans all year long. A lot of the announcements last year were for content updates to existing games. In his podcast, Keighley said viewers should see a more normal slate of announcements this year.

Who will be presenting?

The Game Awards are also known for roping in celebrities and other pop culture figures to hand out hardware and plug whatever they’re working on at the moment. Last year’s show featured A-listers like Brie Larson, Ralph Macchio, Gal Gadot, Keanu Reeves, and The Swedish Chef, for example.

Reeves returns this year alongside The Matrix comrade Carrie-Anne Moss. Former Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime is back on the stage, along with Shang-Chi star Simu Liu. Musical guests include Sting and Imagine Dragons. Also, the return to an in-person event (last year’s show was a virtual broadcast because of the pandemic) means The Game Awards Orchestra, conducted by Lorne Balfe, will provide musical accompaniments and interludes throughout.

Julianna fires a pair of submachine guns in a cinematic still from Deathloop
Deathloop is nominated for nine awards, including Game of the Year.
Image: Arkane Studios/Bethesda Softworks

What are The Game Awards 2021 nominees?

Oh yeah! It’s an awards show! The full list of nominees follows. Each of the Game of the Year nominees is up for multiple awards. The six games in question are Deathloop, with nine nominations in all (including two in the Best Performance category); Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, with six; It Takes Two and Psychonauts 2, with five each; Resident Evil Village, with four; and Metroid Dread, with two.

Game of the Year

  • It Takes Two (Hazelight Studios/Electronic Arts)
  • Metroid Dread (MercurySteam, Nintendo EPD/Nintendo)
  • Psychonauts 2 (Double Fine Productions/Xbox Game Studios)
  • Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart (Insomniac Games/Sony Interactive Entertainment)
  • Resident Evil Village (Capcom)

Best Game Direction

  • Deathloop (Arkane Studios/Bethesda Softworks)
  • It Takes Two (Hazelight Studios/Electronic Arts)
  • Returnal (Housemarque/Sony Interactive Entertainment)
  • Psychonauts 2 (Double Fine Productions/Xbox Game Studios)
  • Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart (Insomniac Games/Sony Interactive Entertainment)

Best Ongoing

  • Apex Legends (Respawn Entertainment/Electronic Arts)
  • Call of Duty: Warzone (Infinity Ward, Raven Software/Activision)
  • Final Fantasy 14 Online (Square Enix)
  • Fortnite (Epic Games)
  • Genshin Impact (Mihoyo)

Best Narrative

  • Deathloop (Arkane Studios/Bethesda Softworks)
  • It Takes Two (Hazelight Studios/Electronic Arts)
  • Life is Strange: True Colors (Deck Nine/Square Enix)
  • Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy (Eidos Montreal/Square Enix)
  • Psychonauts 2 (Double Fine Productions/Xbox Game Studios)

Best Indie

  • 12 Minutes (Luis Antonio/Annapurna Interactive)
  • Death’s Door (Acid Nerve/Devolver Digital)
  • Kena: Bridge of Spirits (Ember Lab)
  • Inscryption (Daniel Mullins Games/Devolver Digital)
  • Loop Hero (Four Quarters/Devolver Digital)

Best Mobile Game

  • Fantasian (Mistwalker)
  • Genshin Impact (Mihoyo)
  • League of Legends: Wild Rift (Riot Games)
  • Marvel Future Revolution (Netmarble)
  • Pokémon Unite (TiMi Studios/The Pokémon Company)

Best VR/AR

  • Hitman 3 (IO Interactive)
  • I Expect You to Die 2 (Schell Games)
  • Lone Echo 2 (Ready at Dawn/Oculus Studios)
  • Resident Evil 4 (Armature Studio, Capcom/Oculus Studios)
  • Sniper Elite VR (Coatsink, Just Add Water/Rebellion Developments)

Best Action

  • Back 4 Blood (Turtle Rock Studios/Warner Bros. Games)
  • Chivalry 2 (Torn Banner Studios/Tripwire Interactive)
  • Deathloop (Arkane Studios/Bethesda Softworks)
  • Far Cry 6 (Ubisoft Toronto/Ubisoft)
  • Returnal (Housemarque/Sony Interactive Entertainment)

Best Action/Adventure

  • Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy (Eidos Montreal/Square Enix)
  • Metroid Dread (MercurySteam, Nintendo EPD/Nintendo)
  • Psychonauts 2 (Double Fine Productions/Xbox Game Studios)
  • Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart (Insomniac Games/Sony Interactive Entertainment)
  • Resident Evil Village (Capcom)

Best Role Playing

  • Cyberpunk 2077 (CD Projekt Red)
  • Monster Hunter Rise (Capcom)
  • Scarlet Nexus (Bandai Namco)
  • Shin Megami Tensei 5 (Atlus/Sega)
  • Tales of Arise (Bandai Namco)

Best Fighting

  • Demon Slayer Kimetsu no Yaiba The Hinokami Chronicles (CyberConnect2/Sega)
  • Guilty Gear Strive (Arc System Works)
  • Melty Blood: Type Lumina (French-Bread/Delightworks)
  • Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl (Ludosity, Fair Play Labs/GameMill)
  • Virtua Fighter 5: Ultimate Showdown (Sega)

Best Debut Indie

  • Kena: Bridge of Spirits (Ember Lab)
  • Sable (Shedworks/Raw Fury)
  • The Artful Escape (Beethoven & Dinosaur/Annapurna)
  • The Forgotten City (Modern Storyteller/Dear Villagers)
  • Valheim (Iron Gate Studio/Coffee Stain Studios)

Best Family

  • It Takes Two (Hazelight Studios/Electronic Arts)
  • Mario Party Superstars (NDcube/Nintendo)
  • New Pokémon Snap (Bandai Namco/The Pokémon Company/Nintendo)
  • Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury (Nintendo)
  • WarioWare: Get It Together! (Intelligent Systems/Nintendo)

Best Sports/Racing

  • F1 2021 (Codemasters/EA Sports)
  • FIFA 22 (EA Vancouver/EA Sports)
  • Forza Horizon 5 (Playground Games/Xbox Game Studios)
  • Hot Wheels Unleashed (Milestone)
  • Riders Republic (Ubisoft Annecy/Ubisoft)

Best Sim/Strategy

  • Age of Empires 4 (Relic Entertainment/Xbox Game Studios)
  • Evil Genius 2: World Domination (Rebellion Developments)
  • Humankind (Amplitude Studios/Sega)
  • Inscryption (Daniel Mullins Games/Devolver Digital)
  • Microsoft Flight Simulator (Asobo Studio/Xbox Game Studios)

Best Multiplayer

  • Back 4 Blood (Turtle Rock Studios/Warner Bros. Games)
  • It Takes Two (Hazelight Studios/Electronic Arts)
  • Knockout City (Velan Studios/Electronic Arts)
  • Monster Hunter Rise (Capcom)
  • New World (Amazon Games)
  • Valheim (Iron Gate Studio/Coffee Stain Studios)

Most Anticipated Game

  • Elden Ring (FromSoftware/Bandai Namco)
  • God of War Ragnarok (SIE Santa Monica Studio/Sony Interactive Entertainment)
  • Horizon Forbidden West (Guerrilla Games/Sony Interactive Entertainment)
  • Untitled sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Nintendo)
  • Starfield (Bethesda Game Studios/Bethesda Softworks)

Best Art Direction

  • Deathloop (Arkane Studios/Bethesda Softworks)
  • Kena: Bridge of Spirits (Ember Lab)
  • Psychonauts 2 (Double Fine Productions/Xbox Game Studios)
  • Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart (Insomniac Games/Sony Interactive Entertainment)
  • The Artful Escape (Beethoven & Dinosaur/Annapurna)

Best Score and Music

  • Cyberpunk 2077 (Marcin Przybylowicz, Piotr T. Adamczyk, Composers)
  • Deathloop (Tom Salta, Composer)
  • NieR Replicant ver.1.22474487139 (Keiichi Okabe, Composer)
  • Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy (Richard Jacques, Composer)
  • The Artful Escape (Johnny Galvatron & Josh Abrahams, Composers)

Best Audio Design

  • Deathloop (Arkane Studios/Bethesda Softworks)
  • Forza Horizon 5 (Playground Games/Xbox Game Studios)
  • Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart (Insomniac Games/Sony Interactive Entertainment)
  • Resident Evil Village (Capcom)
  • Returnal (Housemarque/Sony Interactive Entertainment)

Best Performance

  • Erika Mori as Alex Chen, Life is Strange: True Colors
  • Giancarlo Esposito as Anton Castillo, Far Cry 6
  • Jason E. Kelley as Colt Vahn, Deathloop
  • Maggie Robertson as Lady Dimitrescu, Resident Evil Village
  • Ozioma Akagha as Julianna Blake, Deathloop

Games for Impact

  • Before Your Eyes (GoodbyeWorld Games/Skybound Games)
  • Boyfriend Dungeon (Kitfox Games)
  • Chicory: A Colorful Tale (Greg Lobanow, Alexis dean-Jones, Lena Raine, Madeline Berger, A Shell in the Pit/Finji)
  • Life is Strange: True Colors (Deck Nine/Square Enix)
  • No Longer Home (Humble Grove, Hana Lee, Cel Davison, Adrienne Lombardo, Eli Rainsberry/Fellow Traveler)

Best Community Support

  • Apex Legends (Respawn Entertainment/Electronic Arts)
  • Destiny 2 (Bungie)
  • Final Fantasy 14 (Square Enix)
  • Fortnite (Epic Games)
  • No Man’s Sky (Hello Games)

Innovation in Accessibility

  • Far Cry 6 (Ubisoft Toronto/Ubisoft)
  • Forza Horizon 5 (Playground Games/Xbox Game Studios)
  • Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy (Eidos Montreal/Square Enix)
  • Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart (Insomniac Games/Sony Interactive Entertainment)
  • The Vale: Shadow of the Crown (Creative Bytes Studios/Falling Squirrel)

Content Creator of the Year

  • Dream
  • Fuslie
  • Gaules
  • Ibai
  • TheGrefg

Best Esports Game

  • Call of Duty (Activision)
  • Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (Valve)
  • Dota 2 (Valve)
  • League of Legends (Riot Games)
  • Valorant (Riot Games)

Best Esports Athlete

  • Chris “Simp” Lehr
  • Heo “ShowMaker” Su
  • Magomed “Collapse” Khalilov
  • Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev
  • Tyson “TenZ” Ngo

Best Esports Team

  • Atlanta FaZe (Call of Duty)
  • DWG KIA (League of Legends)
  • Natus Vincere (Counter-Strike: Global Offensive)
  • Sentinels (Valorant)
  • Team Spirit (DOTA 2)

Best Esports Coach

  • Airat “Silent” Gaziev
  • Andrey “ENGH” Sholokhov
  • Andrii “B1ad3” Horodenskyi
  • James “Crowder” Crowder
  • Kim “kkOma” Jeong-gyun

Best Esports Event

  • 2021 League of Legends World Championship
  • PGL Major Stockholm 2021 (Counter-Strike: Global Offensive)
  • PUBG Mobile Global Championship 2020
  • The International 2021 (DOTA 2)
  • Valorant Champions Tour: Stage 2 Masters