Don’t Forget Midnight Suns At The Game Awards Next Year
Every games journalist hits a point where they become 'too online'. There's not really any coming back from it. You can recognise it, and try to fight it, but you can never escape it. The tell-tale signs are writing too much about specific and niche Twitter discourse amongst your peers, assuming that your readership has the same obsession with online characters and lore as you do as you flick between your insular Discord of other journos and your Twitter feed of all the content creators you hate-follow, and writing articles directed not to readers but to other journalists. Forgive me, please, as I step through the looking glass, and indulge in the third pitfall here – next year, we can't forget about Marvel's Midnight Suns at The Game Awards.
I want to clarify first off that I have not played Midnight Suns yet. I might hate it. I have no idea of how good it is besides our reviewer Eric Switzer, whose tastes often align with mine, heaping praise on the game. This is not a typical 'I played this game, please give it a trophy to legitimise my opinions' deal. Although sure, I did write something similar in the wake of Citizen Sleeper's snub. The point is, as long as The Game Awards refuses to budge from its December slot (presumably when it can maximise ad revenue in the void of other showcases) into a more award-friendly March slot, we're going to have this issue.
Last year, the winner of the Players Voice award was Halo Infinite. In voting for the other awards last year, we were explicitly told Halo Infinite was ineligible, and would be allowed in 2022. But Halo Infinite was nominated for nothing. Maybe it just wasn't good enough, sure, but it seems more likely that the confusion of it coming out last year and winning a Game Award last year meant many on the jury ruled it out the same way they did other 2021 games.
I don't think the same confusion will happen with Midnight Suns. It may yet be up for Players Voice, but with the titans of Elden Ring and God of War Ragnarok, plus the lack of a console war army behind it in the way Halo Infinite had, it's unlikely to win. If that helps it avoid the confusion that damaged Halo's chances though, perhaps that's a good thing. Again, I have not played Midnight Suns myself, and I have no idea if I will like it, but as more games release in December, TGA's voting system and ceremony date feel more and more unhelpful.
I'm part of the issue here, of course. It doesn't feel like TGA takes its own awards seriously, but as a backdrop for commercials, so maybe I shouldn't care so much either. But I can't help it – I do. I love the award show circuit for cinema, and while TGA is a very different show (it's difficult to imagine Florence Pugh saying "fuck the Golden Joysticks!"), there's enough of the award show razzle dazzle for me to care about TGA for the awards first and foremost. I want to see interesting games win, I want people opened up to new experiences, not just the six highest selling triple-A safe bets up for GOTY each time.
That's why I'm fighting Midnight Suns' corner. It has the backing of the Marvel name, sure, but that only makes the decision to make a half card-based TRPG and half visual novel life-sim even bolder. Even with Spider-Man, this is a game that is aiming to make creative choices, not bank safe dollars. It sits on 83 on Metacritic at the moment, just six points off Fire Emblem: Three Houses, which is considered by many to be the apex of the genre – and which was reviewed by TRPG enthusiasts who knew what they were getting into rather than the much wider pool of Marvel reviewers. Critically, which surely counts for something when it comes to awards, the game is already a major success despite its creative risks, and we should recognise that.
I know most of you reading this aren't on the jury, other than for Players Voice, the category I don't want Midnight Suns to win. But then it's unlikely anyone is going to listen to me anyway, and Midnight Suns, like the other handful of December games, won't get a look in next year. If nothing else, I'm another voice telling you to try out Midnight Suns – in lieu of awards, that's the best I can give it.
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