Five Games With ‘Game of the Year’ Editions That Weren’t Close To Being Game Of The Year

Five Games With ‘Game of the Year’ Editions That Weren’t Close To Being Game Of The Year

Whatever happened to the Game of the Year? What happened to respect? Year after year we debate: Skyrim versus Dark Souls, Red Dead Redemption versus Mass Effect 2. This is the game that defines our year. The game we will remember when we look back. This is serious business. So when publishers make a mockery of this sage institution, we get angry! Just because you have some DLC to clumsily repackage doesn’t mean you have a ‘game of the year’ edition on your hands!

We’ve decided to run down the five worst offenders. The five games we thought least deserved a Game of the Year edition. Come on guys, at least LA Noire had the good grace to call its little DLC package ‘The Complete Edition’ — show some restraint!

1. Dead Island

The year: 2011
The Metacritic Score: 71%
They said: “With regular AI freezes and vanishing items, a mistimed autosave can prove fatal. Ultimately it all invites the refashioning of another line from Romero. When there’s no more room in development hell, the dead losses will walk the Earth” — Edge

In some bizarre parallel universe, where time flows backwards, and hamburgers eat people — maybe, just maybe some poor silly billy could ingest enough red cordial to name Dead Island his game of the year. Sure, it was interesting. Sure people watched the trailer and had a sniffle. But Jesus, Dead Island was a buggy game, and mediocre to boot. In a year where we were truly spoiled for choice — 2011 had Skyrim, Dark Souls and Portal 2 for God’s sake! To have the sheer brass cojones to even suggest that Dead Island was the game of the year? Please, share some of these interesting hallucinogenic drugs.

Actual Games of the Year: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Portal 2, Dark Souls, Batman: Arkham City, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

2. Borderlands

The Year: 2009
The Metacritic Score: 83%
They said: If you’re looking for an RPG, there are better options (yes, Fallout 3, I’m looking at you). If you want an FPS, there are tons of better games. But as a combination of both genres Borderlands is a fresh and fun option. — Eurogamer Spain

I know I’m going to catch heat for this one, but I’m sorry — in no shape or form was Borderlands a legitimate contender for 2009 game of the year. This is not a slight on Borderlands — it was and is a top notch video game, and actually did win a Game Informer award for Best Co-op game of the year. But it didn’t say Borderlands: Co-Op Game of the Year Edition on the box, it said Game of the Year Edition, and Borderlands wasn’t really a contender.

Actual Games of the Year: Uncharted 2: Amongst Thieves, Street Fighter IV, Batman: Arkham Asylum, Assassin’s Creed 2


The Year: 2011
The Metacritic Score: 64%
They Said: “Presentation is where AFL Live really comes up short. Players move well enough when viewed from a distance, running, marking, fending, and tackling realistically. Shifting to close-ups or any tighter views reveals plenty of rough patches, though, with player models looking little like their real-world counterparts and animations looking jerky and stilted.” — Gamespot

Jesus wept. This one sucks to write, because it’s a homegrown title based on a homegrown sport — but the only way this game should be getting a Game of the Year Edition is if they changed the name to ALF Live and it featured a certain cat eating Alien puppet from the 80s. Seriously — who gave ALF Live game of the year? Those three fat dudes on The Footy Show? ALF himself, after misreading the box title. Alf Stewart, from Home and Away? Bloody Nora…

Actual Games of the Year: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Portal 2, Dark Souls, Batman: Arkham City, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

4. Operation Flashpoint: Cold War Crisis

The Year: 2001
The Metacritic Score: 86.51%
They Said: “True, few games let you play as a soldier, tank commander, and pilot in the same sitting, but in order to enjoy yourself you must be able to feel comfortable with your controls and navigate the in-game menus intuitively.” — PC Gamer

This game came out in the same year as Halo. And it has a game of the year edition. It came out in the same year as Grand Theft Auto III, arguably the most influential game of the last 15 years. And it has a game of the year edition. I reckon it was Dick Cheney’s Game of the Year. And even though it’s impossible to do in most first person shooters, he probably found a way to shoot himself in the foot.

Actual Games of the Year: Grand Theft Auto III, Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3, Halo: Combat Evolved

5. Red Orchestra: Heroes of Stalingrad

The Year: 2011
The Metacritic Score: 76%
They Said: “I can appreciate the goals and gumption of the game’s small development staff, but the game is just painful to play.” — Machinima

I have never played this game. I have never heard of this game. Until two hours ago, I had no idea it existed. What. The. Hell.

Actual Games of the Year: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Portal 2, Dark Souls, Batman: Arkham City, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

Honorable Mention: Fable II

The Year: 2008
The Metacritic Score: 88%
They Said: “You’ll have to slog through a very frustrating few hours in order to get to the good stuff, but once you’ve gotten over the game’s incredibly obvious flaws, you’ll find one of the most emotionally evocative games ever made.” — Destructoid

I wanted to put this on the list — I really did. The headline of this article initially read ‘Six Games With Game of the Year Editions That Weren’t Even Close To Being Game Of The Year’. But, as crazy as it sounds, Fable II actually did win Game of the Year awards, which is just insane considering the fact that Grand Theft Auto IV, Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, LittleBigPlanet and bloody Fallout 3 were all released in the same year. Blame Molyneux worship, weird wish fulfilment and silly British patriotism for this one. Fable II was hardly a terrible game, but it has aged terribly — not that it was close to being a real game of the year contender to begin with…

Actual Games of the Year: Grand Theft Auto IV, Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriot, LittleBigPlanet, Fallout 3, Rock Band 2


  • I’m gonna call Shenanigans on Borderlands. I’ll even award it my own personal ‘GOTY’ to legitimise it. I had more fun with it than any other game released that year. It’s been the very first time I’ve been compelled to play through all of the DLC of a game.

    • I’ll echo those sentiments. Except for going as far as calling shenanigans, them’s fighting words.

      Bought all the DLC and played through the entire game 4 times, once with each of the characters. Twice on my own and twice in co-op.

    • I guess the point is these games went ahead and released a “Game of the Year” edition, which used to be something that would happen when a major publication awarded it that title. Then any publication. Now it’s just “whatever, we’ll pack in the DLC and call it GOTY”.

      • accordinign to wikipedia “RPGLand’s Ivan Taran gave it a rating of “Great”[56] and the game went on to win the site’s Xbox 360 Game of the Year award, and be named the Runner-up for overall Game of the Year 2009, ” while rpgland may not be the uppercrust of game sites, it still won a game oof the year. Also while there may have been better options for game of the year, i think this is a game that deserves it,

        • I still play Borderlands on a regular basis

          Uncharted 2: Amongst Thieves, Street Fighter IV, Batman: Arkham Asylum, Assassin’s Creed 2 I’ve played and either not enjoyed or have no interest in playing again.

    • This. In no way was borderlands “not even close” to winning game of the year, me and 3 mates are playing through it at this very moment and still after 3 years are having so much fun with it.

      • More like Bordomlands! What a shit game! How a writer for a gaming site hadn’t heard of RO2 is beyond me, though..

    • This (yet another). I enjored borderlands far more than any of Marks “real” 2009 GOTYs. Even as horrid as the PC UI was.

    • It has one of the worst endings in gaming history. It loses game of the year for that alone without even without looking into the fact it was not better then Batman: AS or AC2.

    • I agree. Borderlands is great. I still play it now from time to time. I’m pretty psyched for the sequel too. Gearbox knows what they’re doing, in my book…

  • GOTY edition seems to be shorthand for something that would be more accurately called Complete Edition.

    Considering there is no definitive GOTY, any game and make the claim that they have that title. They might not earn it but it doesn’t really matter.

    • A few years ago these games might’ve been released in those ‘classic’ range too. You know the ones with ugly boxart and too many awards.

      • They still are. Classic/Platinum/Greatest Hits are just discount rereleases of games that sell enough copies. They don’t tend to have the DLC bundled in with them though, which is fairly standard on a GOTY edition.

    • Yeah, I was expecting an article about games titled ‘Game of the Year Edition’ that had little extra included to the original release.

      Why has it become GotY edition? Are they meant to be a version that replaces the original as contender for a GotY award?

  • I’d give Borderlands a Game of the Decade award. I haven’t sunk nearly as many hours into any other game.

    Of course that’s just my opinion. Opinions are the basis of reviews and GotY awards. Whether or not Borderlands received aGotY takes nothing away from my experience with the game.

    It’s of my opinion that Fallout 3 is overrated, for whatever that’s worth.

  • Heh, AFL Live. I remember at work when they were trying to figure out what to call the version of the game with the updated DLC packed in, and GOTY Edition was being tossed around. I did ask whether they could actually do that or not, because it seemed a bit iffy. Apparently the game was actually one of the best-selling titles in Australia though (a friend at one of the top retailers also said it was one of their best-selling games, when I brought it up with him in conversation), so you could kind of stretch the definition a bit there.

  • You said it yourself, you’re going to get flak for Borderlands.

    Borderlands is one of few games that I actually enjoy going back to playing, and replaying, and replaying. Not for achievements, but just because I enjoy playing it. It’s fun enough that you WANT to play as different classes, or even the same class and use different weapons and level up through a different skill tree.

    And it just gets more fun with the more people you are playing with.

  • Game of the year has clearly taken on a different meaning over the past gen. Kinda makes me think about how the DLC model overtook the more traditional expansion package.

  • I hate the title of Game Of The Year editions. Its seems so pretentious & wanky, the Arkham City goty cover springs to mind lol

    • Except is was a horrible, buggy, POS game not worth the bandwith to download teh trailer let alone the whole game.
      The only people who actually liked it were the hardcore RO fans, and they only liked it cos thier no good at any other FPS.
      I sat in a single spot in one game and racked up 382 kills, about 200 of them walked directly past me before being shot in the back, apparently my character had morphed into a brick wall, my actual characters model was a wall…. i saw people walk through walls, turn invisible, fly, and take entire clips to the face at point blank range without getting a scratch on them.

      So if that game won any awards, they were paid for.

      Borderlands GOTY is deserving, and im upset Deus Ex didnt get one.

      • Your ignorant, the GOTY edition was bug free, yes the launch was bad. I loved it quite frankly and it was my first RO experience and it genuinely does things outside the box. Maybe you experienced a glitch – when did that ever mean a game is bad -_- if the game isn’t for you so be it, but don’t let that blind what the game has on offer. BTW there were plenty of games better than Borderlands. Just because you liked it doesn’t mean it deserves a game of the year, with that being said i think RO shouldn’t have got GOTY either but i was just pointing it out.

  • Come on Mark, you don’t know what red orchestra is?! 😛

    I’ll agree, not game of the year, but having not even heard of it… Aww.

  • I have lost faith in you now serrels not just for borderlands but also cold war crisis. Way more worthy of goth than hol

  • Borderlands is definitely my GOTY for 2009. I have more hours played than any other game of 2009. There are some notable games that are worthy of their own GOTY editions like Batman: Arkham Asylum or Dragon Age: Origins, but the true sign of a GOTY is that I’m more excited for Borderlands 2 than I was for any other sequel to a game from 2009.

  • For 2009, I have to say that Borderlands was my Game of the Year. 3 years down the track in 2012 and I’m still playing it.

  • Everyone knows Alf doesn’t say bloody nora. He says something about c-words, mexic-words and slippery gypsies.

  • I should also say, I think Fable 2 WAS worthy of GOTY. Seems to be a game that attracts love or apathy. No middle ground. :S

  • OK the AFL thing got me. Thats just the marketing team spreading lies with their dirty poop mouths. Poop….poop mouth.

  • Borderlands is definitly GOTY worthy… Yes it didn’t win the title but Gearbox put a damn good effort into making a game with an awesome amount of content… Considering Modern Warfare 2 won a few GOTY awards that year, just goes to show that these titles are irrelevant.

  • The Game (plus the preordern ‘bonuses’ we used as an incentive to get the money) of (gullible types – not to mention all) the (DLC and content-that-was-already-on-the-disc that we released in drips throughout the course of an entire) Year (to try to get people to not trade it in before we can turn off the servers, because now- only 12 months later – there is a new) Edition (being released)

  • I’m on your side Mark with Borderlands. Just another pew pew mutliplayer game to me. But i would never give a FPS, GOTY regardless of what it is.

    They should call them ‘TVYSHGWIWFR’ Edition.
    The Version You Should Have Gotten When It Was First Released….Edition.

  • *Puts on flame-proof suit*

    I know about your love for Halo Mark, and I know this will make me sound like a Halo hater or a PC elitist (I’m neither), but Halo was in no way Game of the Year even when it first came out. In all honesty, it was a pretty generic shooter that didn’t do anything PC FPS players hasn’t already been playing with for years. Props to Bungie for bringing it to consoles and to Microsoft for marketing it though, the console players went nuts over it. But the PC gamers looked at it and said “Uhhh…That’s it? That’s what all the fuss is about?” It was hardly a spectacular game…and IMO not worthy of a Game of the Year award. Maybe Xbox GOTY, but it didn’t exactly have very stiff competition from Xbox exclusives that year.

    This was kinda typified by the PC release a little later. Many will say “lol the PC version was sh!t man” but that’s far from the case – it had better controls, better visuals, higher resolutions, better framerates…better just about everything over the Xbox original. It was actually a very very good port in those respects. But for some reason it just wasn’t very well received. You really need to wonder what made the PC version “sh!t”, as people say, when the gameplay was identical and many other aspects were improved.

    Had Halo released on PC first (I believe that was actually the original plan before MS acquired Bungie), it would not have received anywhere near the accolades it did. It only rated highly because it was on Xbox and it didn’t really have any other FPS competition on that platform at the time.

    I’m not dissing on you or anyone else for loving Halo…we all have the games we love. I’m just saying it wasn’t GOTY material.

    • If you consider that Halo made a lot of people realise how FPS games on console can be done right, then you can understand why it’s as popular as it is/was.

      On the other side of that, it’s games like Halo that spawned the idea into the head of Activision that COD could do well on console……..DAMN YOU HALO!!! WHAT HAVE YOU DONE!!!! hahaha

    • erm halo was a revelation for everything a console could show. the gameplay was amazing added the idea of sandbox ai (driven by state machines), physics in game and large worlds. It was the first true example of sandbox/emergent gameplay.

      Also, graphically it was oe of the first games to show bump mapping. which if you dont remember was AMAZING at the time.

      the pc version WAS shit but it also got the game what like 1.5 – 2 years later? of COURSE it was shit by then. doesnt detract from how seminal the original release was. And it did for LAN gaming what Goldeneye did for split screen…

      just because you didn’t ‘get it’ doesn’t mean halo wasn’t a classic in every sense of the word

    • It wasn’t well received because it was a console game at heart. The story wasn’t _that_ amazing, the gameplay was fairly linear and it was about as difficult as… Nothing is coming to mind, but it wasn’t hard. You could go through with just the basic pistol and win the game, stealthing and melee’ing all the small creatures, sniping them from afar. It was also fairly expensive when it came out, I think it’s still a $20 game.

      It was a fun diversion, but not as fun as it could be. Which is a pity because the multiplayer wasn’t bad at all, I still play it at LAN’s. If they’d released it with a lower asking price then the uptake could have been much higher. As it is they released Halo 2 on PC after it was released on consoles, and at a high asking price, then promptly did the normal big time executive decision which was to call all PC gamers pirates and refuse to release any other Halo on PC and to sue anyone thinking of modding a game into the Halo universe.

      Halo 2 is still a $40 game, which is ridiculous when you’re competing with CSS/Quake 3 players. Activision did it a bit better with Call of Duty, the games are obscenely expensive but there isn’t a 2 year gap between console and PC release so computer users haven’t moved on to bigger and better games.

  • Dude stfu Mark! I despise dlc. The price of it mainly. For a lot of games I specifically wait for a goty edition. Not only does the cost drop from $100ish to $50, but you also get about $50 of dlc with it!
    They can call it the doubly booby super fly edition for all I care, as long as they keep the dlc inclusions and price reduction.

  • I bet Flashpoint picked up a few GOTYs here and there. I can Imagine places like Rock Paper Shotgun, or in fact anywhere PC-centric, based on that list of actual GOTYs, could potentially have put it in top spot.

  • I would like you to realize that “Co-Op Game of the Year” has “Game of the Year” in the title for a reason.

  • Borderlands was excellent. I figure a good GOTY edition involves A) A great game (it was) and B) Plenty of DLC included. I agree with dead island, it only had one REAL addon, hardly a good bundle.

  • While Borderlands wasn’t at the time considered GOTY, i think retroactivly, many gamers would call it GOTY, especially with its DLC, and the way its DLC was rolled out.

  • GOTY edition means the game got GOTY from notable publications – it has nothing to do with your opinion of the game. Calm down people.

    That said, how on earth did Fable2 get GOTY from anywhere?

    • It’s weird, man. Cause I loved the game.The dark tone of Albion. The twisted decisions in some quests. The dog companion. The basic gameplay. I had all kinds of fun. Definitely game of the year for 2008 for me.

  • Maybe they just keep missing part of the title? Maybe they think “Game of the Year” means “The game and any DLC that was released that year”, so a GOTY edition is the edition that the game would have been at the end of that year…

    Okay, I’m definitely clutching at straws there.

  • Of the 5 you listed, Borderlands is the closest to deserving the title… however when stacked up against what else was released that year.. *chokes on coffee*.. Indeed.

  • I think Fable 2’s aged a lot better than most other RPGs I’ve played. Then again, I can still hope into the original Fable and think it holds up to most modern RPGs. It’d also have to be my game of the year for 2008, simply because I can’t remember any other games that came out in 2008 other than those ones that were mentioned above and I didn’t really get into any of them except for Fallout 3, which I didn’t really start playing seriously until a year later so it doesn’t count.

    I’ve never actually thought of GOTY as meaning anything other than includes all dlc. When I started hearing people talking about how certain games didn’t deserve GOTY editions because they didn’t actually win GOTY I was shocked. You mean there’s an actual GOTY designation you have to earn? That’s the first time I learned video game awards were actually a thing. I find myself not really caring about game awards in the same way I find myself not caring about review scores. If a publisher wants to release a GOTY edition of a game that didn’t win an award I say let them, I’m sure it was GOTY for someone.

  • honorable mention from me for fallout new vegas, bethesda decided NOT to call it game of the year edition (it was called ultimate edition or something)

  • Where’s Deus Ex: HR????

    I think the author needs to play some more games..

    Also, the whole Mass Effect series is a steaming pile of rubbish!

  • Personally, I really enjoyed Dead Island. It had issues and wasn’t the huge emotional journey the trailers portrayed it as, but none the less cracking zombie skulls in paradise was alot of fun IMO.

    Definitely not GOTY material per se, but still one of my personal favourites for that year.

  • Yeh, there were better games that year than Borderlands in my book, but I think you’re selling it short, Mark. It was good enough to make it to the top of at least some lists. But yeh, we’ve all got our own opinions on that. I believe Uncharted 2 was my pick that year.

  • Now, now, Mark. Be nice to the games that aren’t sequels. 😛

    Assassins Creed 2 didn’t bring anything amazingly new to the table to deserve a Game of the Year. And simply giving the award to the next GTA/Uncharted/Batman/Assassins Creed/Street Fighter game misses a lot of the really truly good games.

    Saints Row was an amazing and refreshing, albeit buggy, new take on the open world criminal game, GTA 4 wasn’t even close to as good. Granted, they were released two years apart, but GTA 4 didn’t add anything new to the genre. At least from memory which could be faulty.

    If a Game of the Year is an amazing take on a genre, a brilliant makeover of one, or a completely new form then it should get a GotY. So Assassins Creed or Portal would get in, AC2/Portal 2 would end up second tier. Fun, but not absolutely amazing. Fallout 3 and Little Big Planet were fantastic, Rock Band 2 less so. Borderlands might not be an initial Game of the Year, but definitely a retroactive one. Don’t know, it’s still the most fun you can have with an SMG in an RPG, the game is possibly on par with Fallout 3. Although the lack of appropriate music is a letdown

  • I know Dead Island was buggy as a termite hill or an ants nest, but it was still the best zombie game i have played in awhile, ideas are original in some areas the customisable weapons was more fun then the dev mods and come on taking a runner off at the head before he hits you was totally the most enjoyable thing out there.

    No idea why Borderlands was ripped on in this article i still play this now just like dead island bloody original it was fun as shit. And it seems that everyone agrees with me.

  • Borderlands won RPGLand’s Xbox 360 Game of the Year award, and was named the Runner-up for overall Game of the Year 2009. Borderlands also received Gameinformer’s best co-op game of 2009 from both the player and Gameinformer.
    The game has sold up to 4.5 million copies which is around the same number as the game of the years that you listed. Another thing take any one of those games that you listed as the 2009 GOTY into gamestop and see what price they give you compared to borderlands, you will be surprised.
    What your article really comes down to is what you decide is a decent publication but really who are you to decide what publications count and which don’t. If you wanted GOTY to return to something worthwhile then what needs to happen is a actual award event needs to happen so that there is a standardized judges panel to hand out these awards. There is not so really what it comes down to is we all have to just accept that GOTY means nothing, because its as subjective as this poorly written article.

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