The Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences honored achievements in the video game industry Thursday, and Blizzard’s class-based multiplayer phenom Overwatch took home the night’s foremost award from among a strong list of contenders that included indie gem INSIDE, Nathan Drake’s final adventure in Uncharted 4, and the latest entry in the Battlefield franchise.
Along with the coveted overall Game of the Year award, Blizzard’s Overwatch also won with Outstanding Achievement in Game Design and Online Gameplay, and was further dubbed the Action Game of the Year. Naughty Dog’s Uncharted 4 won Outstanding Technical Achievement as well as Outstanding Achievement in Story, Animation and was named the Adventure Game of the Year.
The moody and atmospheric INSIDE won Outstanding Achievement in Game Direction, along with the award for Art Direction and the DICE “Sprite” Award. The Sprite Award is a new accolade, specific to “a game having disproportionate resources for development and exposure (as compared to AAA titles), represent a higher degree of risk tolerance and advances our industry with innovative gameplay and experiences.”
Pokemon Sun and Moon predictably won Handheld Game of the Year. Civilization VI was the Strategy Game of the Year, and well-deserved at that. Steep leapt out of the gate to win Sports Game of the Year over a handful of established franchises. Dark Souls III was the RPG of the Year, while Forza Horizon 3 beat its only competitor, Driveclub VR, for the title of Racing Game of the Year. Street Fighter V won amongst fighting games, and the Ratchet & Clank reboot was the best “family” title. Matrix-lite Superhot VR was the favorite “immersive reality” title of 2016.
Niantic’s Pokemon Go snagged Mobile Game of the Year, in a win that was somehow even less surprising than Overwatch‘s continued dominance. Meanwhile, DOOM, The Last Guardian, Battlefield 1, and Eagle Flight were each recognized for individual strengths.
Perhaps the highlight of the night, however, came during Bethesda Game Studios Director Todd Howard’s speech as he was inducted into the AIAS Hall of Fame: “And that’s the thing that’s made my career unique. I’ve spent the whole time at one place, working with the same people, and in many ways, making the same game over and over again.”
It was a quote that was seen as much as a credit to his team as a seeming admission of repetition in the Fallout and Elder Scrolls series, which Howard has helmed for the developer.
— DORITO BANDITO (@Reaprar) February 24, 2017
In a statement, AIAS President Mike Fischer said of Howard:
I know that many of us in the industry have spent countless hours enthralled in the vast, open worlds that Todd has created. He’s made us all reconsider the player-game relationship and extended the storytelling possibilities of our medium.
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