Steam is a big deal. Owned by Valve, it's where most PC gamers go to get their digital goods and has a massive, vocal community too. So when it decided to hold its first ever awards, it turned to that community to let them decide not just the winners, regardless of the year they were released, but the categories. Where else would gamers get to nominate their favorites for 'Best Use Of A Farm Animal'?
It was no surprise to see Doom and Dark Souls III, a couple of 2016’s biggest games, make the winners list. What most of us weren’t expecting was that so many older games, wrinkles and all, would make it into the community-voted honors.
Left For Dead 2, for instance, came out in 2009 but won the ‘Better With Friends’ category ahead of titles like Gang Beasts. Grand Theft Auto V was released on PC in 2015 and won 'Game Within A Game' and 'Whoooaaaaaaa, dude', a category for games that "melt your face," beating this year's Doom. CS: GO won 'Just 5 More Minutes', and Portal 2 scored the 'Villain Most In Need Of A Hug' award. All of the above are brilliant games, of course, but they're also older than the usual annual award winners, and beat out things like 2016's Fallout 4, Civilization VI and Dishonored 2.
It's a reminder that great games don't stop the minute the marketing does and that gamers care more about good games than release dates - Team Fortress 2 from 2007 is rocking over 50,000 players as I type - but also predicts something about the way games and their active communities are changing. Overwatch came out this year but Blizzard's skills and the fanbase give it an almost infinite lifespan, GTA Online has its own mega community that goes way beyond the stories Rockstar Games set out to tell and Destiny clans meet to raid every Tuesday whether there's new content or not. Look forward to a future where your favorite game will outlive you.