Kotaku’s Overall Game Of The Year — The Results Are In!

Kotaku’s Overall Game Of The Year — The Results Are In!

Two weeks ago we asked for nominations, A week ago we asked you to vote. Now, we’re revealing the winners. [Begins drum roll…]

Reader’s Choice

And the winner is… The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Surprise!

Like you didn’t see this one coming. It’s almost disappointing to see the same game take out all the awards. Last year we had variety with the Battle Royale between Red Dead Redemption and Mass Effect 2. This year, despite the fact it was one of best ever for gaming, it all seemed so unbalanced. Other games just didn’t have a chance!

Perhaps if Portal 2 had been released closer to the end of the year, it might have been in the hearts and minds of enough folks to topple Skyrim, maybe not. For now it’ll just have settle for second place! Congrats to both!

Winner: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Runner Up: Portal 2

Editor’s Choice

Mark: It’s bloody Skyrim, alright! The game of the year is Skyrim! I still haven’t played Zelda yet, which is weighing heavily on my heart because usually console Zeldas sit atop my game of the year whenever they’re released. I’m almost 100% sure that game will be as close as dammit to toppling Skyrim, personally, but for now I simply can’t make that judgement, and I don’t have the time to play both without neglecting the other. Yep, nerd world problems.

I’ve chosen Portal 2 as my runner up, simply because it felt like a seamlessly designed, well paced, perfect expansion of the core mechanics from the original. More of the same would have been enough for Portal 2, but it wasn’t enough for Valve, who encapsulated the game in an interesting narrative and somehow managed to grow the core of it without tainting the purity of the original experience. Portal 2 was a delicate balancing act pulled off near perfectly. And the co-op, sweet lord the co-op.

I’d like to also give an honorable mention to Batman: Arkham City, a game with one of the best final acts in recent memory. The pacing propelled me towards the last three or four hours at the speed light — and the combat? The best compliment I can give Batman: Arkham City is that, after playing Batman: Arkham City, the combat in the every other game I’ve played subsequently — Uncharted 3, Assassin’s Creed Revelations — felt archaic.

Amazing games, amazing year.

Winner: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Runner Up: Portal 2

Tracey: I’m not deliberately going against the grain here. If I wanted to be some kind of hipster gamer perhaps I would say that my game of the year is actually still in design document form and no one has heard of it yet. I am not a hipster, and I can only choose the game that has had the greatest impact on me this year — one that I continue to think about long after the computer has been turned off and the gentle music has stopped playing. My pick goes to To The Moon. I explained my love for it yesterday, and I’ll reiterate today: To The Moon is a reminder of the power of video games and a reason to care.

A special mention goes to Batman: Arkham City, LittleBigPlanet 2, and Xenoblade Chronicles.

Winner: To The Moon
Runner Up: Ziggurat for iOS
(yet to be released (however, it has been developed beyond the game design document stage (OK, maybe I am just a little bit of a hipster *dons flannel shirt*)))


  • I don’t see how you can make a judgement for GOTY if you haven’t played one of the major condenters – Skyward Sword!

    It screams unjustice!

    Instead of playing so much Skyrim you could have sacrificed a few hours to at least give Skyward Sword a try…

        • I know man, it weighs heavy on my mind! It just came out too late. And personally I want to experience Skyward Sword the right way, because I love the series more than any other series.

          • That’s good to hear, it’s my favourite series as well and has been ever since I was 5 and my brother and I got our NES and The Legend of Zelda for XMAS.

            I hope you enjoy Skyward Sword as much as I did when I first got my hands on it.

          • I keep hearing Skyward Sword is the new best in the series. If OOT was mobile game of the year…..

    • I’m a pretty huge Zelda fan, I even nominated Skyward Sword as a GOTY contender before release, but I’m really sorry to say that it definitely does not deserve to win GOTY – particularly not up against Skyrim and Portal 2.

      I didn’t start enjoying Skyward Sword until after the 20 hour mark or there abouts, and even now I feel that maybe I’m only tricking myself into thinking I enjoy it so that I don’t dwell on everything about it that infuriates me.

      There is just so much wrong with Skyward Sword (in terms of game mechanics, the persistence of hand-holding “easy mode”, the constant interupts to the narrative thanks to your companion, etc) and it’s in such high contrast to Ocarina of Time, which is so fresh in my mind coming off the back of the 3DS release earlier in the year.

      What Skyward Sword does have is great story, visuals and music – and those make up for it’s deficit just enough that I’ll keep plugging away at it, but I can’t see myself returning to it once it’s finished.

      Sorry, don’t let me stop you from enjoying it. If it was the best game you played this year then I guess you deserver to call it GOTY. I’m just not getting that GOTY feel from it, the way I did from DX or Portal 2 or Skyrim.

  • Little surprise that Skyrim won the KokAkU poll considering how much love it was getting from the TAYbies in the weeks prior to release. 😛

    I’d probably be more inclined to pick it up if I wasn’t STILL playing Fallout New Vegas.

    Here’s my pledge: I will pick up Skyrim next year if it is confirmed that we’re definitely not getting a new Fallout game before 2013.

    • I pledge to pick it up once I upgrade my pc, clear up some of my pile of shame, possibly finish studies, get more stable in my profession, take a good holiday, save up for a house.

      Or just celebrate the new year… by dedicating it to Skyrim.

      Lol. No, def will wait for a bit.

    • Fallout 3 was released about 2.5 years after Oblivion, so I’d say it’s a safe bet Fallout 4 is about 2 years away which is unfortunate. Can’t wait ’til that beast is shown, it’s gonna be amazing!

      And I’m seeing a pattern of all the hate for Skyrim now. It’s become popular, it’s an amazing game, and now people are picking it apart and saying it doesn’t deserve the awards it’s getting. Same thing happened with GTA IV.

      • It’s weird like that. I liked GTA even when people picked it apart, but Saints Row 2 was so much better that I find GTA unplayable now… weird thing is, a lot of my friends have recently started playing GTAIV again!

        • Yeah I started playing IV again off the back of the trailer for V – made me want to put in an effort to finish IV!

  • It’s cool Tracey, I’ve heard of Ziggurat, and it does look like I’m going to be playing a lot of it when it comes out. I’ll meet you at the General Pants and we can discuss Game Design Theory over soy chai somethings.

    I wish I could say I was being facetious when I say I actually do this. *sigh*

    As for Skyrim winning everything, GOOD FOR IT. I still didn’t enjoy the game in any capacity, but that’s just because of the way my head is wired, potentially. It’s sort of disappointing that there is no apparent love for Super Mario 3D Land anywhere, as that game is pure gorgeous level design.

      • Agree on Super Mario 3D Land and it kind of shows up a flaw with these GOTY lists – SM3DL has been out for 1 week, same with Skyward Sword, MK7 is officially out tomorrow – even Skyrim, everybody’s choice has been out for less than a month.

        How are people supposed to form a reasonable opinion of whether a game is the best of the year in only a few weeks – these accolades should wait until the end of January.

  • I can’t help but disagree; Skyrim’s bugginess, ugliness and need-to-be-modded-ness kick it out of the top spot for me. I think Deus Ex is a much better example of contemporary, artistic, awesome-to-play videogaming.

    • Got to agree with you there. I love Skyrim, Portal 2 and Skyward Sword but the game I think I have had the most fun with is Deus Ex.

    • Deus Ex was my favorite game that I have played so far this year too. I was totally immersed in that game and its world, in a way that I haven’t been with many other games.

  • After sinking over 100 hrs into dark souls then going straight to skyrim after, the combat in skyrim seems a little lacking. Not to say that I’m not having fun with it. Just doesn’t seem as focused.

  • These awards are waaay too early. I would have picked Skyrim initially, but have since been hooked on Skyward Sword & would chose that as I enjoy it more.
    Too early!

      • I did play it, I just have never got into open world RPG’s. I’m more a story oriented player. Eg mass effect.

        But… I don’t know. I don’t think this many awards is good for it’s health 😛

        • well what i meant was if you had of arrived earlier i would of played with/voted for you.

          but if you want to take it that way be my guest

  • I’d have to agree with Fenixius here. Skyrim is buggy, some of the textures are dreadful and once your save file reaches around 6MBs, it lags like crazy.

    If you mean Deus Ex: Human Revolution, I would definately agree with you. It was one of the few new games I played this year (I didn’t play very many, seriously) that I actually really want to buy a copy of. I was playing it on PS3 and jeeze… it was amazing. The controls were so easy to get used to! I was quite suprised.

    • Some of DXHR’s textures were awful, and some of the animations… well, the less said the better. But it was so well designed, it needs much more love than it’s getting. Just like Portal 2, it seems that games released in Nov just stick in people’s memory much more vividly than games released earlier.

  • I’m usually not one for independent games, but I’m definitely intrigued by To The Moon, I love a game with a good story.

  • Skyrim is _good_, but I don’t think it really lives up to the full potential of the storytelling that an open-world game can give. It’s Bethesda’s inability to have narrative with a great amount of depth. Compare New Vegas, where you could screw around with factions and discover their histories, gain favour with them or piss them off royally… it’s up to you. Skyrim has more of a set path.

    OTOH, the other GOTY contender Portal 2, as a portal-based puzzler, both lived up to and exceeded the expectations for the genre.

    I heart Skyrim as much as the next person, but … it doesn’t quite _feel_ right as a GOTY, personally… *sigh*

    • The narrative in Skyrim exists purely to expose the various game mechanics to the player in a linear fashion to help shape the learning curve.
      The story of Skyrim comes from your own experiences and exploits.

      IMO, that is how a game should be. If I wanted to be led through a preset story, I’d read a novel or watch a movie. I play single-player games because they provide the tools for creating your own experiences.

      • Except the choices you make in various quests and world interaction don’t really matter. Just like every other Bethesda-developed open world game. The reduction of choice and influence on the world serve to make the story more linear and “preset” — not less.

        • Mate, I maxed out my restoration skill, crafted armour to give me 100% restoration cost reduction, and then basically sat back healing as my horse kicked a dragon to death on its own. In which quest am I told to do that?

          I also crafted incredibly high-armor gloves, took the perk which turns glove armour into damage, and 1-hit KO’s a dragon.

          I enchanted my bow with Paralysis, baited a bunch of forsworn into chasing my up a flight of thin stairs, turned around and hit the first one in the chest, then sat back and laughed as his stiff frozen body made a human barricade, shielding me from his buddies.

          I pick-pocketed the leader of the thieves guild, punched a werewolf to death and created a hovering light over the head of everyone in the College of Mages.

          These weren’t quests, this was emergent gameplay leading to hilarious stories I have to tell my friends about, because even though they’ve been playing the same game, they haven’t had the same experiences as I.

          This is my story of Dovahkiin

          • You don’t get it. Oblivion starts the same way and it ends the same way. That is the narrative of Oblivion. You can’t team up with the Mythic Dawn and ensure the return of Mehrunes Dagon to Nirn, for example, you have to play the narrative how it is to be played. Now, I haven’t finished Skyrim yet, but it’s looking like it’s going to end up the exact same way.

          • Oh, I see. You’re disappointed that you don’t have enough influence over the direction of the plot in Skyrim. Fair enough.

            Mechanically speaking, beyond giving the player two or three presets for how the story ends, the theory and algorithms for ai-driven procedural story telling seeded by player action/reaction (which I’ve done a bit of research into myself) just don’t exist in anywhere near the point they would nee to be to reliably work in a AAA title, especially one with the mechanical flexibility of Skyrim.

            When that does happen, however, we’re going to be in for a treat. Might actually be able to have a proper D&D video game.

  • I like skyrim.

    I don’t understand why people call it ugly and rave about skyward sword when skyward sword isn’t even close to HD…

    • Skyward Sword was made with a consistent and well-executed aesthetic theme, and Skyrim was made to be the most generic thing you’ve ever looked at. I think Deus Ex and Skyrim have similar levels of graphical fidelity, at least at short-mid scale (Skyrim’s large scale is gorgeous, I’ll give it that), but Deus Ex looks good and Skyrim does not because the former was designed in a very specific, visually consistent way, and the latter just doesn’t stand out at all.

      • Generic? Far from it. I don’t know if it’s because of platform differences, but I played it on PC, as well as 5 other people I know, and every one of us thought the environments were absolutely stunning. The clouds/mist swirling around mountain tops, the animated and dynamic sky, weather effects, the epic scale of things such as Azura’s shrine, the draw distance from The Throat of the World, etc. If your jaw didnt drop when you saw an aurora on a clear night with the 2 moons behind it, reflecting off a lake, then I honestly don’t know how to impress you.

        • I see your point about some of the small scale things though, but even then it’s still impressive as a whole.

          • It can be beautiful, oh yes, but only if you mod the hell out of it. Tweak the ini files to ramp the draw distance up past the maximum, and make sure the trees render correctly. Get some texture packs to make the water look more realistic, and so the trees don’t look like brown/green triangular blurs. Make double-sure you get the Enhanced Night Sky pack to triple the number of stars, and the HD Moons to get some really nice crisp highlights and details. THEN it looks great; prior to the above, it looks okay.

          • I didn’t need any of the above to enjoy the graphics. My trees rendered ok too. Played everything on ultra settings if that’s what makes the difference. The moons already look pretty crisp too IMO.

            The only thing that stood out was that in some rare places the distant water edges looked like straight lines, and sometimes the good old “soup” texture could be noticed between distant trees (not often noticeable unless you’re specifically looking for it).

            The graphics overall are much greater than the sum of its parts, to me.

      • Agreed.

        It’s so annoying when people think HD means photorealistic graphics. It pains me to wonder what they think a Mario game in HD would look like, lol.

    • Not every game has to be in HD you know.

      Would Zelda look stunning in HD? Yes or course it would, but it doesn’t mean that Skyward Sword or any other SD Zelda games aren’t also stunning in their own right.

      When yuo say people think Skyrim is ugly and rave about Skyward Sword, they are probably referring to Skyward Sword’s unique artistic style, while Skyrim uses a more standard “realistic” visual style (not that there is anything wrong with that).

      Different games suit different visual styles is all.

      Personally I hope that Nintendo keeps using various different visual styles for the Zelda franchise when they move to HD, instead of making it look like every other game on the market.

  • I’ve gotta say, it is a bit disappointing that Skyrim swept up at the awards this year, considering just how many amazing games we’ve had. It’s great that Portal 2 and Batman: Arkham City got a few nods, but what happened to the rest of the games? Where’s Deus Ex and Battlefield 3? Where’s Bastion and LA Noire? Skyward Sword and Forza 4?

    When you consider just how buggy it is, and just how heavy the emphasis is on modding to fix up the developer’s mistake, sweeping up at the Game of the Year awards seems a little undeserved.

  • The beauty of 2011 is most of the great games could have been Game of the Year in any other year — just so much good stuff. Congrats Skyrim, you’ve earnt it.

  • I loved Portal 2, perhaps (and probably) more than I loved Portal.

    That said, I preferred Arkham City. I thought it was bloody amazing.

    Anyway, I don’t think Skyrim deserves any of the 10/10 it gets (I haven’t seen a single game worthy of that), but I can get that it was game of the year.

      • I think you mean go back to 1997 and play Half-Life back before vaguely story-driven games with decent physics were commonplace.

          • I don’t like Freeman though. I think he’s a bad character. If he’s a shell that we’re meant to feel like, then why is he so detailed and on the box?

            I’m nitpicky, sue me 😛

          • If they do a Half Life 3 they should take a page from Deus Ex and have some ‘out of body’ moments for Freeman

  • I’m a bit over seeing Skyrim everywhere. I played it for about 5 minutes and didn’t really see what all the fuss is about.
    Yes sure it’s a good game but everyone is making it out to be the second coming of Christ or something.
    And tbh the more hype and loving comments it gets the less and less I want to give it a real try.

    • “I played it for about 5 minutes and didn’t really see what all the fuss is about.”

      That’s because you only played it for 5 minutes. It’s a 50+ hour game.

      • I listened to the first two notes of Freebird and don’t see why people rave about the guitar solos. BORING.

  • I never asked for this…

    Deus Ex Human Revolution was my GOTY, sad to see it wasn’t up there 🙁

    Still, congrats to Skyrim and Portal 2

  • Uncharted 3, Dark Souls, Zelda SS, Deus Ex:HR, Forza 4, and Gears 3 all deserved special mentions but didn’t 🙁

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