The video-game biz’s biggest awards show, the Game Awards, will live-stream this year across 16 gaming and video platforms worldwide on Dec. 7 — and producers are hoping to top the 8.5 million viewers who tuned in to last year’s kudocast.
Angling to boost engagement, the Game Awards for the first time will let fans vote on three categories starting Tuesday, Nov. 14, using Google Search, Twitter direct message, and Facebook Messenger, in addition to thegameawards.com.
“Four years after we started, we’re emboldened. We keep adding more partners,” said Geoff Keighley, creator/producer of the Game Awards. “We’ve giving fans more ways to interact with the show, and introducing exciting new elements including the Game Awards Orchestra.”
The event, to be held again at L.A.’s Microsoft Theater, will include awards presentations, exclusive game world premieres and announcements and musical performances. In addition, Keighley said the 2017 Game Awards has attracted the interest of movie studios, who are looking to feature talent and screen clips of upcoming releases.
The 2016 Game Awards audience topped 8.5 million unique viewers, up 65% from the year prior. That included 1 million streamers in China, according to Keighley. Its growth comes as other big awards shows, including the Emmy Awards and the Oscars, have seen declines in TV viewership over the past few years.
The 2017 Game Awards’ live-streaming partners include Facebook, Twitch, Twitter, and YouTube (which will offer the show in 4K Ultra HD), as well as GameSpot, IGN, Sony’s PlayStation Store, Mixer.com, Steam and Microsoft’s Xbox Live.
In China — where YouTube and other streaming services are blocked— the Game Awards has again partnered with Tencent to air the show live, including on QQ.com. In addition to watching a live translated version of the show and an exclusive preshow, Chinese viewers can use WeChat, QQ.com and Tencent News App to vote on a special “Fans Choice Award,” based on nominees selected by Tencent’s gaming editors.
Other international distribution partners for 2017 — which will carry live, translated versions of the show — include AfreecaTV and KakaoTV (South Korea), NicoNico (Japan), UOL Jogos (Brazil) and Ingromania (Russia). In addition, highlights from the show will be featured in a Snapchat Story.
Nominees for the Game Awards in more than 25 categories will be announced at 10 a.m. ET on Nov. 14. At that point, fans will be able to cast votes on Google Search (by typing “The Game Awards voting” into the search bar), Facebook Messenger and Twitter DM in the esports player, esports team and most-anticipated game categories.
Twitter this year is creating a custom #TheGameAwards emoji and live tweets on breaking news and the results of Twitter user polls will be integrated into the broadcast. The live coverage will be available globally to Twitter’s logged-in and logged-out audience at live.twitter.com/thegameawards and via @thegameawards.
“The Game Awards coverage will give passionate gaming fans and awards show enthusiasts around the world live video and real-time conversation all in one place on Twitter,” said Todd Swidler, global head of Twitter’s live video business.
Facebook, in addition to airing the Game Awards on Facebook Live on Dec. 7, will exclusively present a five-week behind-the-scenes series, “The Road to The Game Awards” on its Watch video platform starting next week. Facebook also will again host a special “backstage room” at the show for nominees and digital influencers to go live on their pages and interact with fans in real time.
Apart from the three fan-voted categories, the winners of most of the 2017 Game Awards categories are selected by a panel of 52 industry experts and influencers (up from 28 last year).
The Game Awards are adding two new categories this year: it will have a dedicated category for mobile games (splitting it out from the previous “mobile/handheld” category) as well as an award for best ongoing game to “be more reflective of games being ongoing services instead of one-time releases,” Keighley said.
The Game Awards is executive produced by Keighley and Kimmie H. Kim. The show’s creative director is LeRoy Bennett and Rich Preuss is director. Tickets to attend the Game Awards in-person at L.A.’s Microsoft Theater are now on sale for purchase via AXS.com. More info is available thegameawards.com.
The Game Awards’ advisory board includes execs from Activision, AMD, Electronic Arts, Microsoft, Nintendo of America, Rockstar Games, Sony Interactive Entertainment, Ubisoft, Valve and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment.
Pictured above: Game Awards creator/producer Geoff Keighley (l.) and Nintendo of America’s Bill Trinen at the 2016 Game Awards.