2023 Steam Awards: Starfield Takes Home Most Innovative Gameplay Award


Despite a somewhat disappointed fanbase, Starfield was left holding a Steam Award at the end of the day.

Valve has announced the winners of the 2023 Steam Awards. Despite a rough launch and a consistent barrage of negativity surrounding Starfield, the game still won the 2023 Steam Award for Most Innovative Gameplay. Baldur's Gate 3 won the overall Game of the Year Award, while Atomic Heart took home the Outstanding Visual Style Award.

Surprising Victories and Controversial Choices

The Steam Awards are a way for the community to vote for the best games of the year, and Valve has just released the results for the 2023 event, revealing some surprising entries. As many may have expected, Baldur's Gate 3 took the overall win, nabbing the Game of the Year Award.

Perhaps the most surprising entry in the award-winners list was Starfield, which beat out Remnant II, Contraband Police, Shadows of Doubt, and Your Only Move is Hustle for the Most Innovative Gameplay Award. Not only are Starfield's Steam reviews "Mixed", with only 64% of the game's 89,282 reviews rating it positively, but the reviews are trending downwards, to boot. Of Starfield's 7,213 reviews on Steam from the last 30 days, only 29% are positive, putting it firmly on the "Mostly Negative" side of things.

Starfield's launch was plagued by a number of issues, with many gamers online criticizing the game for feeling "outdated." Meanwhile, others were left unsatisfied with the game's empty environments and lack of follow-through on its grand ambitions — a sentiment to which a Bethesda employee comically responded that "The intention of Starfield's exploration is to evoke a feeling of smallness in players and make you feel overwhelmed."

Regardless of the controversy surrounding the game, its creative mix of hand-made and procedurally-generated environments in conjunction with a wide variety of systems and game mechanics, seems to have won over the gaming community at least in part.

2023 Steam Awards Recap

Let's take a closer look at the winners across various categories:

VR Game of the Year: Labyrinthine

Labyrinthine, a virtual reality experience, secured the VR Game of the Year award. The game managed to captivate players with its immersive VR environment, providing a unique and thrilling experience.

Labor of Love: Red Dead Redemption II

Red Dead Redemption II, despite being a title released a few years ago, continues to receive love and support from its community. The Labor of Love award recognizes the dedication of developers and the ongoing commitment to improving the gaming experience.

Best Game on Steam Deck: Hogwarts Legacy

Hogwarts Legacy, set in the magical world of Harry Potter, was crowned the Best Game on Steam Deck. This award highlights the compatibility and excellence of the game on Valve's handheld gaming device.

Better With Friends: Lethal Company

Lethal Company stood out as the game that is "Better With Friends." Multiplayer experiences are often enhanced by cooperative or competitive gameplay, and Lethal Company seems to have nailed the social gaming aspect.

Outstanding Visual Style: Atomic Heart

Atomic Heart's unique visual style caught the attention of players and earned it the Outstanding Visual Style award. The game's aesthetic appeal, combined with its innovative design, set it apart from the competition.

Most Innovative Gameplay: Starfield

Despite the negative reviews and controversies, Starfield clinched the Most Innovative Gameplay award. The game's blend of hand-crafted and procedurally-generated environments, coupled with a diverse range of systems and mechanics, showcased innovation that resonated with some gamers.

While Starfield faced criticism, its win in the Most Innovative Gameplay category suggests that, beneath the surface, there are elements that players found truly groundbreaking and inventive.

Best Game You Suck At: SIFU

SIFU, a game that embraces its challenging nature, was recognized as the Best Game You Suck At. This award acknowledges the appeal of games that offer a steep learning curve and a sense of accomplishment for overcoming difficulty.

Best Soundtrack: The Last Of Us Part I

The Last Of Us Part I secured the Best Soundtrack award, highlighting the importance of music in enhancing the overall gaming experience. The emotionally charged soundtrack of the game contributed significantly to its success.

Outstanding Story-Rich Game: Baldur's Gate 3

Baldur's Gate 3, a title known for its deep narrative and rich storytelling, rightfully won the Outstanding Story-Rich Game award. The game's engaging plot and well-crafted characters resonated with players, making it a standout in this category.

Sit Back and Relax: Dave the Diver

The Sit Back and Relax award went to Dave the Diver, emphasizing the game's calming and leisurely gameplay. In a world filled with intense and action-packed titles, Dave the Diver provided players with a tranquil gaming experience.

While the 2023 Steam Awards celebrated the successes and innovations in the gaming industry, Starfield's win in the Most Innovative Gameplay category will likely continue to spark debates and discussions within the gaming community. The juxtaposition of negative reviews and an award for innovation raises questions about the subjective nature of gaming preferences and the complex relationship between players and developers.

As the gaming landscape evolves, each award and critique contribute to shaping the industry's future. The diverse range of winners reflects the dynamic and ever-changing nature of video games, where player opinions, technical achievements, and artistic innovations all play pivotal roles in determining a game's success.

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