The Grammys’ new video game score category appears to be a success in its first year, as more than 70 original scores have been entered.
First-round voting is underway now, and Recording Academy members have plenty to choose from. But will they vote based on popularity of the game or on quality of the music?
Grammy voters tell Variety the ballot includes currently popular games such as the dark fantasy “Elden Ring” (music by Yuka Kitamura, Yoshimi Kudo, Shoi Miyazawa, Tsukasa Saitoh and Tai Tomisawa), the action-adventure “Tunic” (music by Janice Kwan and Terence Lee), the post-apocalyptic “Horizon Forbidden West” (music by “various artists,” the only game on the ballot that doesn’t specify a composer) and the horror-filled “The Quarry” (music by Ian Livingstone).
Some of the game world’s most prominent composers have entered the race, as well. Austin Wintory (“Journey,” until now the only Grammy-nominated game score) has “Aliens: Fireteam Elite”; Stephen Barton and Gordy Haab (“Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order”) have “MultiVersus”; Jason Graves (“Dead Space”) has “Moss: Book II”; and Inon Zur (“Prince of Persia”) has “Syberia: The World Before” and is one of nine composers credited for “PUBG Mobile.”
Winners of game-music awards from earlier this year may indicate the direction voters will go at the Grammys. This year’s BAFTA winner “Returnal Volume 2” (music by Bobby Krlic) is entered, as are BAFTA nominees “Far Cry 6” (six different entries by Pedro Bronfman, Will Bates, Stephen Lukach and others), “Halo Infinite” (music by Gareth Coker and Curtis Schweitzer), “Deathloop” (Tom Salta) and “Psychonauts 2” (Peter McConnell).
Similarly, the Game Audio Network Guild awards may bode well for Grammy nominations. This year’s GANG winners that are on the Grammys’ preliminary list include “Kena: Bridge of Spirits” (music by Jason Alexander Gallat), “Outer Wilds: Echoes of the Eye” (music by Andrew Prahlow), “Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy” (music by Richard Jacques) as well as “Returnal” and “Halo Infinite.”
Composers better known for their film and TV scores are also on the list, including Bear McCreary (“Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power”) for “Call of Duty: Vanguard,” Nainita Desai (“14 Peaks: Nothing Is Impossible”) for “Immortality” and Stephanie Economou (“Jupiter’s Legacy”) for “Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: Dawn of Ragnarok.”
First-round voting ends Oct. 23. Nominees will be announced on Nov. 15.