The BAFTA nominations for the 2007 Video Games Awards came out on 25th September (I know I’m behind the times, my father died the next day, sue me). And frankly, what in the holy name of living crap is going on?
The list’s here. Go and have a look at it. Anything strike you as odd?
First of all, many of the nominated titles haven’t actually been released yet. This is, believe it or not, in accordance with the awards’ terms and conditions: as long as you reckon you’ll get your game out sometime in 2007 then you can put it up for an award and BAFTA’s videogame-related members can shortlist it. So that’s fine, then.
Except for two things. Firstly, it’s not always possible to tell the quality of a game from pre-release code, even if we believe that the producers of the nominated games have given BAFTA’s voting members enough access to pre-release copies of the game for them to sufficiently judge the likely quality of the final product. Secondly, only four companies seem to have taken advantage of this generosity on BAFTA’s part: Sega (Sega Rally Revo, released two days after the nominations list), Eidos (Kane & Lynch: Dead Men), Sony (Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune and Eye of Judgment), and EA, with a clear 50% of the not-out-yet titles (Orange Box, Skate, Crysis, and The Simpsons Game). Prominently named on BAFTA’s game-award site: the former Executive Chairman of Eidos and the former head of EA UK.
Back to the list. Secondly, have a look at the PS3 titles that have received nominations. Quite a large number, you’ll agree. Except that in three cases (Orange Box, Skate, Sega Rally Revo) these aren’t PS3 exclusives, they’re multi-format titles that for some reason are only listed in the PS3 version. All three, you’ll also note, make use of the previously discussed laxity on games that haven’t been released yet. And interestingly, two of them (Orange Box and Skate) have had their PS3 release delayed until weeks or even months after the Xbox 360 and PC versions come out. Both of them are EA titles.
The other question the shortlist begs is: what’s missing? And the answer is… well, put it like this: what if you announced a games award, and a company declined to submit pre-release versions of its games to your panellists? Ah, okay, but what if that company was Microsoft Games Studio, whose at-the-time unreleased titles included Halo 3, Project Gotham Racing 4 and Mass Effect? You’d be screwed, wouldn’t you?
Notice the complete absence of Halo 3, Project Gotham Racing 4 and Mass Effect from the BAFTA shortlist of the best games of 2007.
I am not a Microsoft apologist, much less a fanboy, but…. BAFTA, you’re dead in the water. Your awards have declared themselves irrelevant. If you give out a set of videogame awards for 2007 and do not mention Halo 3 among your nominees, you are writing the words ‘HOPELESSLY OUT OF TOUCH AND LOVING IT’ on your forehead. Admittedly they may be difficult to read, since they’ll have to be squeezed around the words ‘GIVING EVERY APPEARANCE OF BEING INSTITUTIONALLY BIASED’ which are there already.
Shape up or give up, BAFTA. Please.