The Game Awards: Every Game of the Year Ever

The Game Awards Key Art

Every year, fans eagerly await the announcement of Game of the Year from The Game Awards. It’s an award as prestigious as they come and is often a hotly contested topic amongst those in the industry and fans alike.

Originally known as the Spike Video Game Awards, The Game Awards has been giving out Game of the Year awards since 2003 and there are some incredible titles amongst the winners.

Below, we’re going to give you a run-down of every Game of the Year ever according to The Game Awards.

Spike Video Game Awards Era (2003-2013)

Before Geoff Keighley launched The Game Awards that we all know and love in 2014, he was best known for working on the Spike Video Game Awards which followed a similar format as the current show and was broadcast on Spike TV. Here are all of the Game of the Year Awards given during this period.

2003 – Madden NFL 2004

Madden NFL 2004 Start Screen
Credit: EA

Madden NFL 2004 was the first game in the series that offered an “Owner” mode, undoubtedly contributing to its successes at The Game Awards. This allowed players to fully involve themselves in the management of an NFL franchise, even down to regulating Hot Dog prices! It remains the only sports title to win Game of the Year at The Game Awards, so far. 

READ MORE: Madden NFL 24 Review

2004 – Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
Credit: Rockstar Games

Despite the controversy surrounding it, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is without a doubt a fantastic game. It acted as a commentary, and somewhat a glorification, of the issues that plagued Los Angeles throughout the 1980s and 1990s and remains one of the highest-rated games on Metacritic. 

2005 – Resident Evil 4

Resident Evil 4 2005 Key Art
Credit: Capcom

Resident Evil 4 was released to universal acclaim following the successes of its predecessors. It was regarded highly for its voice-acting performances, fight choreography, and detailed character design. It introduced a new style of gameplay to the franchise and the action-orientated narrative beat titles such as God of War to the award.

READ MORE: Resident Evil Village Review

2006 – The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

The Elder Scrolls 4 Oblivion Key Art
Credit: Bethesda

In 2006, Oblivion was at the forefront of video gaming and deservedly won Game of the Year from The Game Awards. It had fantastic graphics, an expansive open world, and raised the bar on in-game NPCs. It combined everything great about RPG, action, and adventure games at the time to provide one of the best experiences both at the time and to this day.

2007 – BioShock

Bioshock Key Art
Credit: 2K

BioShock, as a Game of the Year, had everything. Its gameplay was fantastic, it was graphically stunning, and the narrative it presented players with was unrivaled. Its morality-based storyline offered a degree of exploration within each level and combat scenario that made it a compelling, replayable title. 

2008 – Grand Theft Auto IV

Grand Theft Auto 4 Key Art
Credit: Rockstar Games

There was a long wait between Grand Theft Auto games, but when Grand Theft Auto IV launched, everyone realized why. This title set a new benchmark for open-world games and remains one of the best in the genre. Alongside fantastic developments in the fluidity of its gameplay and combat, many also praised it for the sheer freedom it afforded players alongside the gripping narrative it followed.

READ MORE: Grand Theft Auto The Trilogy – Definitive Edition Review

2009 – Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

Uncharted 2 Key Art
Credit: Sony Interactive Entertainment

After the successes of the first Uncharted title, Naughty Dog raised the bar with the sequel: Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. Nolan North’s performance as Nathan Drake is still one of the best in the industry and many applauded Uncharted 2 for its immersive nature and cinematic action sequences. It was visually stunning and raised the bar for what is expected from single-player action-adventure games.

2010 – Red Dead Redemption

Red Dead Redemption PS4 Nintendo Switch Key Art
Credit: Rockstar Games

Following the success of Grand Theft Auto IV, Rockstar Games took a step back in time to explore the Wild West. It was the spiritual successor to Red Dead Revolver but took everything fantastic about Grand Theft Auto along with it. John Marston remains one of the most compelling protagonists in the history of gaming and Red Dead Redemption is regarded by many as one of the best open-world titles ever made.

2011 – The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Credit: Bethesda

It’s the game that is now seemingly everywhere. One thing that The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim did well is remove the class system that featured heavily in previous Elder Scrolls titles. The ability to freely explore Skyrim’s skill trees and the freedom to change “classes” as and when the player wanted undoubtedly contributed to its success. It also simplified the in-game interface and better-allowed players to get lost in its rich environment and sprawling narrative.

READ MORE: Deathloop Review

2012 – Telltale’s The Walking Dead

Telltale's The Walking Dead Key Art
Credit: Telltale Games

Praised for its deeply emotional narrative and consequence-driven gameplay, Telltale’s The Walking Dead was the first step in a renaissance of sorts in the industry. It was incredibly written and featured incredible stylization and voice acting, championing a more purely narrative-based experience.

2013 – Grand Theft Auto V

GTA 5 Logo Characters Background Key Art
Credit: Rockstar Games

This game has transcended console generations since its launch, and for good reason. Grand Theft Auto V is widely regarded as the greatest video game of all time. It features three, compelling, interwoven narratives that highlight several key real-world issues. Even without this, though, Grand Theft Auto V offers a near-limitless sandbox experience in Los Santos with an incredible amount of detail and numerous side-missions and activities to get stuck into. 

The Game Awards Era (2014-Present)

Geoff Keighley spent $1 million of his own money to launch The Game Awards. With E3 now being nothing more than a memory, The Game Awards has become the premiere event to reveal what games are coming in the next 12 months and beyond. Here is every Game of the Year Award given from 2014 to the present.

2014 – Dragon Age: Inquisition

Dragon Age Inquisition Key Art
Credit: EA

Dragon Age: Inquisition married everything good about Dragon Age II’s combat and the strategy involved in Dragon Age: Origins to provide one of the best action-fantasy RPG games ever. Praised for detailed character creation, visually stunning graphics, and a sprawling narrative, Dragon Age: Inquisition deservedly won Game of the Year. Some people may have thought it lacked the nuance of modern storytelling, but it remains one of the strongest fantasy stories in video game form. 

2015 – The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

The Witcher 3 Key Art
Credit: CD Projekt Red

Geralt of Rivia’s third outing is widely regarded as one of the greatest video games of all time. It was marred by technical issues on launch, somewhat similar to how Cyberpunk 2077 has been, but its truly enormous, detailed world and compelling continuation of Geralt’s story left many looking past these temporary issues. On top of all this, Doug Cockle’s performance as Geralt remains one of the greatest of all time. 

2016 – Overwatch

Overwatch Heroes Key Art
Credit: Blizzard Entertainment

Overwatch is the first multiplayer-only title to win Game of the Year at The Game Awards. This marks an important step in the critical appreciation of multiplayer titles over single-player, narrative-driven, experiences. That being said, it remains the only multiplayer-exclusive title on the list.

2017 – The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild Key Art
Credit: Nintendo

Despite the popularity and acclaim of previous Mario and Zelda titles, Breath of the Wild is the first Nintendo-exclusive title to win Game of the Year from The Game Awards. It was the first Zelda title to be released on the Nintendo Switch Console and raised the series to a new, higher standard that many agree makes it one of the best titles ever made.

READ MORE: The 30 Best Nintendo Switch Games

2018 – God of War

God Of War 2018 Key Art
Credit: Sony Interactive Entertainment

2018’s God of War is the first title in the series to move away from its Greek Mythology roots, opting to explore Norse Mythology through an older Kratos and his son. Its sublime gameplay and world-building are complemented fantastically by incredible performance-capture performances and its “one shot” gameplay was applauded. Not only is this Game of the Year 2018, but many argue it is the game of the decade.

READ MORE: Stray Review

2019 – Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

Sekiro Shadows Die Twice Key Art
Credit: Activision/FromSoftware

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice won Game of the Year against stiff competition in 2019; however, it won for good reason. Many praised FromSoftware’s decision to evolve their traditional “Souls-like” combat and improve the reliance on “split-second swordsmanship” and parrying. There were also wonderful stealth options and a resurrection system which stuck out amongst the game’s features. Verticality was something always missing in FromSoftware titles and many praised Sekiro’s improved level design that included this.

2020 – The Last of Us Part II

The Last Of Us 2 Key Art
Credit: Sony Interactive Entertainment

Naughty Dog’s sequel to The Last of Us promised to be mind-blowing, emotionally traumatic, and spectacular. Thankfully, despite delays, it delivered on all this and more. Introducing a second playable character, The Last of Us Part II is arguably the perfect game. Graphically, it is unrivaled and the performance-capture performances throughout are phenomenal. Its complicated narrative is wonderfully interwoven to maintain the thrilling suspense and mystery throughout. Many regard it as a benchmark for storytelling in video games and its polarising nature did not stop it from winning Game of the Year in several outlets.

2021 – It Takes Two

It Takes Two Key Art
Credit: EA

It Takes Two took the top spot in 2021, and it also took 4th place in our own The Click Awards. The co-op action-adventure game was developed by the team behind A Way Out and is also reminiscent of Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons which was also created by Josef Fares. While the world was still coming out of the effects of the 2020 global pandemic, It Takes Two became a perfect way for people to connect and share a gaming experience in person at home, something that isn’t seen nearly enough today due to the popularity of online gaming. If you haven’t played It Takes Two yet, we urge you to go out of your way to do so.

READ MORE: Halo Infinite Review

2022 – Elden Ring

Elden Ring Key Art Horse
Credit: FromSoftware

When Elden Ring was released in February 2022, there was no doubt that nothing released in the coming 10 months was going to threaten its spot as 2022 Game of the Year. FromSoftware’s Dark Souls formula has been perfected and it is evident with the quality of Elden Ring. If you’ve been itching for a new Soul experience, then you don’t have long to wait as Elden Ring is set to receive a major expansion titled Shadow of the Erdtree which is set to be released in June 2024. Despite being technically an expansion, the file size will be larger than the base game, so it will likely feel more like Elden Ring 2 than simply DLC.

2023 – Baldur’s Gate 3

Baldur's Gate 3 Key Art
Credit: Larian Studios

Like Elden Ring the previous year, once Baldur’s Gate 3 was released the Game of the Year winner was locked in. Released 19 years after the previous entry in the series, Baldur’s Gate 3 became an instant smash hit, bringing a new generation to the series and introducing many gamers to the Dungeons and Dragons format. The latest figures for Baldur’s Gate 3 estimate that the game has sold over 15 million copies as of March 2024.

2024 – TBC

The Game Awards 2024 is set to take place on December 12th at the Peacock Theater in Los Angeles. With games such as Palworld, Helldivers 2, Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth, and Dragon’s Dogma 2 already releasing, and titles such as the Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree expansion launching later this year, many games could take the top spot. Make sure to check back later in the year to see which game edged out the competition.

READ MORE: Most Demanding PC Games

Are there any games in there that you don’t think deserve GOTY awards? Or, are The Game Awards pretty spot-on?

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