With The Game Awards 2014 now over, leaving behind a long list of award winners, it’s time to take a step back and see just how successful the inaugural awards show was. The Game Awards was an offshoot of the Spike VGX, founded by former Spike Video Game Awards head honcho Geoff Keighley before he parted ways with Spike to do it on his own. His brainchild had big shoes to fill. After all, 1.1 million viewers tuned in for the Spike VGX in 2013.
The Game Awards moved away from the style of the Spike VGX shows, taking a step back from the awkwardness that sometimes ensued. Instead, there was more of a serious focus on games, including world premieres, the reboot of King’s Quest, and the first gameplay footage of The Legend of Zelda for Wii U. But just how did The Game Awards 2014 compare in viewing figures to the Spike shows?
As it turns out, it wasn’t just Dragon Age: Inquisition that was a big winner at the awards. The Game Awards 2014 was even more successful in viewing figures than its sponsored predecessor. According to Polygon, who spoke with Geoff Keighley, the inaugural Game Awards pulled in nearly 2 million viewers at 1.93 million. It was an increase of more than 75% from Spike VGX 2013, even without the Spike TV backing. Quite an achievement for an online-only stream.
Keighley said that he was “absolutely stunned” by the results of the awards show, in particular due to the lack of a major marketing budget. The Game Awards had no TV spots, and instead focused on word-of-mouth and viral promotion from video game fans and publishers. “I’m used to having a lot of support resources – a promotional team, a digital media team, a PR team,” said Keighley. “It’s empowering that we as a community can get the word out virally about a show like this.”
The success of the awards was partly down to the change of content, with Keighley citing that he “always knew the show would get a better critical response from the community,” but would not necessarily get the mainstream audience required to be a full success. That’s where the special guest speakers and performers became integral. Keighley cited the “important bookings” of Kiefer Sutherland, Trey Parker, and Imagine Dragons as a reason for the far-reaching audience. “All of them truly love games and came to celebrate our medium,” said Keighley.
The Game Awards will be a different beast next year, however. Keighley explained that although he was “really happy” with the outcome, and that the audience figures were “well beyond” his wildest dreams, there is still room to improve the show. Next year could see more awards on stage, less audio glitches, and more publishers on show. “We made The Game Awards in about 3 months,” explained Keighley. “A lot of dev teams just weren’t ready.”
Keighley also stated that he did not make money on the show – but it didn’t matter to him. “If I’m going to invest in anything it’s going to be to support the industry which has given me my whole career.” Instead, the focus is on making The Game Awards for 2015 even better than its predecessor. Although there’s “no decision” on location for next year, Keighley wants to see it happen in some shape or form. “I’d definitely like to see it continue on if publishers and fans want to keep it going.”