Each year around this time, we put immense power in your hands. You’ve spent the entire year talking about what you love about gaming. You’ve debated at the bar, around the watercooler, and across the internet’s multitude of social media platforms. Now’s the time to lock in your votes and help tell the world which games, developers, and personalities deserve the spotlight.
The Golden Joystick Awards are coming and you’re cordially invited to make your voice heard. There are 21 public categories, with games and their creators waiting to find out who you love the most. Remember, voting closes on October 31.
Will 2016 continue established trends or blaze its own path? You can tune in on Friday, November 18 to find out. Until then, we’re giving you another chance to gloat about your favorites being named winners (or tearing open old wounds to remind you what beat out your besties).
After numerous delays, CD Projekt Red delivered a masterpiece in The Witcher III: Wild Hunt, winner of four awards, including Ultimate Game of the Year. The title also earned the studio top honors from fans, as well as appreciation for a consumer-friendly approach to DLC.
Grand Theft Auto V continued to make its gritty mark, despite Geralt taking over for Rockstar’s trio of anti-heroes. After a successful run on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, Grand Theft Auto V made a big splash on current-gen consoles and PC. The new editions earned a Best PC Game nod and credit for bringing the series into the first-person world. It also marked a huge shift for Rockstar, which has turned away from single-player expansions in favor of regular, free content updates for Grand Theft Auto Online.
Two indie darlings caught gamers’ eyes in 2015, with the wildly popular Kerbal Space Program bringing together the joys and challenges of spaceflight (and the tragic deaths of uncountable Kerbals). Her Story pioneered a new way for users to unravel a complex story, featuring dramatic live-action performances that weave a tale fans continue to debate to this day.
While 2015 was a celebration of gaming experiences and innovation, we also said a tearful farewell to Nintendo president and industry luminary Satoru Iwata. His impact is felt still today and will be for years to come, as Nintendo continues to expand its mobile presence and prepares for the launch of its next console, still known under its code name, NX.
The 2015 Golden Joystick Awards winners:
Best Original Game sponsored by GamesRadar+ - Bloodborne
Best Storytelling - The Witcher III: Wild Hunt
Best Visual Design sponsored by 3D World - The Witcher III: Wild Hunt
Best Audio sponsored by DTS - Ori and the Blind Forest
Best Multi-Player - Grand Theft Auto Online
Best Indie Game sponsored by PC Gamer Weekender - Kerbal Space Program
Best Family Game - Splatoon
Best Mobile Game - Fallout Shelter
Innovation of the Year sponsored by techradar - First-person mode in Grand Theft Auto V
Best Gaming Moment sponsored by Absolute Radio - Bloody Baron quest in The Witcher III: Wild Hunt
Gaming Personality sponsored by Kotaku UK - PewDiePie
eSports Icon sponsored by Gfinity - Counter-Strike GO - Anders Blume
Studio of the Year sponsored by Hype (Edge Conference) - CD Projekt RED
Best Gaming Platform sponsored by Digital Spy - Steam
Best Gaming Performance - Ashly Burch as Chloe in Life is Strange
Best PlayStation Game sponsored by Official PlayStation Magazine - Bloodborne
Best Nintendo Game sponsored by Gamesmaster Magazine - Splatoon
Best PC Game sponsored by PC Gamer - Grand Theft Auto V
Best Xbox Game sponsored by Official Xbox Magazine - Ori and the Blind Forest
Most Wanted Game sponsored by The Sun - Fallout 4
Ultimate Game of the Year - The Witcher III: Wild Hunt
Lifetime Achievement - Satoru Iwata
Playfire Most Played - Grand Theft Auto V
Critics Choice - Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
Breakthrough Award - Her Story
While it wouldn’t take home its well-earned Ultimate Game of the Year award until 2015, The Witcher III: Wild Hunt was clearly on gamers’ minds. The title doubled up its Most Wanted wins, repeating the honor from 2013. This year belonged to a more sinister take on open world gaming though, with Game of the Year going to Dark Souls 2. Heavy is the head that wears the crown and loses all of its souls after accidentally rolling off a cliff.
Nestled in the list below, is one game that continues to make a huge impact on the gaming world. Blizzard’s Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft kicked off the digital collectible card game gold rush, with Supercell (Clash Royale), Bethesda (The Elder Scrolls Legends), CD Projekt Red (Gwent: The Witcher Card Game), and many others looking to make a mark (and a profit) from eager players.
The 2014 Golden Joystick Award winners:
Best Original Game in association with Digital Spy - DayZ
Best Online Game in association with PC Gamer - Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft
Best Storytelling - The Last of Us: Left Behind
Best Visual Design - Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag
Best Audio in association with PDP - Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag
Playfire Most Played Game of the Year - Rust
Best Multiplayer in association with Absolute Radio - Battlefield 4
Best Indie Game in association with Official Xbox Magazine - DayZ
Innovation of the Year in association with T3 - Oculus Rift DK2
Best Gaming Moment in association with Sony Xperia Z3 - The Last of Us: Left Behind - "The kiss"
Best Handheld Game - Pokemon X & Y
Best Mobile Game in association with Kiss FM - Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft
Most Wanted in association with The Sun - The Witcher III: Wild Hunt
Gaming Personality of the Year in association with Kotaku UK - PewDiePie
Studio of the Year in association with CVG - Ubisoft Montreal
Gaming Platform of the Year in association with GamesRadar - Steam
Lifetime Achievement - Hideo Kojima
Game of the Year in association with Green Man Gaming - Dark Souls 2
In 2013, we introduced an award for Best Gaming Platform. Since then, Steam has threepeated. Will PC gamers dominate again? That’s entirely up to you.
This year also saw the resurgence of linear, narratively rich single-player games. And while Grand Theft Auto V continued open world gaming’s reign of Game of the Year wins, two titles made big impressions on the gaming public.
Naughty Dog (winner of this year’s Best Studio honors) took us down a heart-wrenching path with Best Newcomer winner The Last of Us. Joel and Ellie’s struggle was tense, bringing players to the brink of tears from start to finish. The game continued to leave its mark in the following year with the prequel expansion, “Left Behind.”
The year also gave us one of most mind-bending stories Lifetime Achievement Award winner Ken Levine has ever directed. BioShock Infinite brought us to a new setting, the skyborn city of Columbia. However, those who carried through to the end learned that there is always a man, there is always a city, there is always a lighthouse, and that Rapture is never too far away.
The 2013 Golden Joystick winners:
Best Newcomer - The Last of Us
Most Wanted - The Witcher III: Wild Hunt
Indie Game of the Year - Mark of the Ninja
Best Visual Design - BioShock Infinite
Best Multiplayer Game - Payday 2
Best Gaming Moment - Far Cry 3 'Insanity'
Best Studio - Naughty Dog
Innovation of the Year - Oculus Rift
Best Storytelling - The Last of Us
Best Online Game - World of Tanks
Best Handheld Game - Assassin's Creed: Liberation
YouTube Gamer of the Year - Yogscast
Best Gaming Platform - Steam
Best Mobile Game - XCOM: Enemy Unknown
Game of the Year - Grand Theft Auto V
Hall of Fame - Call of Duty
Lifetime Achievement Award - Ken Levine
From “One to Watch” in 2011 to Ultimate Game of the Year in 2012, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim filled our hours with Stormcloaks and dragon shouts. Bethesda’s most recent single-player adventure in Tamriel also swept up Best RPG and the Top Gaming Moment of the year. But our appetite for open worlds wasn’t confined to a fantasy setting.
Batman: Arkham City gave us the ability to swoop through the streets of Gotham, even as we looked ahead to being on the other side of the law in Grand Theft Auto V, winner of the “One to Watch” honors. And while taking the fight to the streets is something in which gamers delight, voting proved for the second year in a row that we love to create, too.
Minecraft made its console debut on Xbox 360, beginning a fruitful relationship with Microsoft that saw its eventual $2.5 billion acquisition of Mojang. Today, Minecraft is available on PC and every major home console, with more than 106 million copies sold (more than 30 million of which are on mobile platforms).
The 2012 Golden Joystick winners:
Best Action/Adventure in association with Digital Spy - Batman: Arkham City
Best Strategy - Civilization 5: Gods & Kings
Best Mobile/Tablet - Angry Birds Space
Best Downloadable - Minecraft (360)
Best Fighting - Mortal Kombat Komplete Edition
Best Shooter - Battlefield 3
Best MMO - World of Tanks
Best Handheld Game - Uncharted: Golden Abyss
Top Gaming Moment - The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Throat of the World
One to Watch - Grand Theft Auto V
Best DLC - Portal 2: Perpetual Testing Initiative
Best RPG - The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Best Sport - FIFA 12
Browser-Based/Flash - Slender
Best Racing - Forza Motorsport 4
Outstanding Contribution - EA Sports & FIFA
Ultimate Game of the Year - The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Before Fallout 4’s Commonwealth was even a twinkle in Todd Howard’s eye, Bethesda fans were living in a perfect storm of wonder. With Obsidian at the helm, 2011 gave us a return to Fallout’s irradiated southwest, while eyes were also firmly fixed on Skyrim’s snow covered peaks out in the distance. Ultimate Game of the Year winner Portal 2 has the distinction of being the last game to win the honor without being an expansive, open world title. Whether open world continues its reign in 2016 or succumbs to a new genre is a decision in your hands.
This year also saw Blizzard in peak form. A World of Warcraft expansion and StarCraft II brought two of the publisher’s pillar franchises back into the spotlight. 2016 could be another banner year for the house that Warcraft built, with Blizzard up for studio of the year and Overwatch nominated in a whopping eight categories.
The 2011 Golden Joystick winners:
The Action/Adventure Game Of The Year - Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood
Best Mobile Game Of The Year - Angry Birds Rio
RPG Of The Year - Fallout: New Vegas
Best MMO Game Of The Year (subscription) - World Of Warcraft: Cataclysm
Fighting Game Of The Year - Mortal Kombat
Racing Game Of The Year - Gran Turismo 5
Sports Game Of The Year - FIFA 11
Strategy Game Of The Year - Starcraft 2
Music Game Of The Year - Guitar Hero : Warriors of Rock
Best Free-To-Play Game Of The Year - League of Legends
Download Game Of The Year - Minecraft
Shooter Of The Year - Call of Duty : Black Ops
The One To Watch - Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Innovation Of The Year Award - Nintendo 3DS
Ultimate Game Of The Year - Portal 2