Fortnite just won a Game of the Year title - in 2018. Epic Games' popular multiplayer shooter claimed the crown at the Golden Joysticks, inexplicably beating out Red Dead Redemption 2, a game that many critics believed would be the runaway favorite to sweep up Game of the Year accolades at industry award shows this year.
On the surface, Fortnite being a contender, and even winning, Game of the Year awards makes sense. The game has become so massively successful that it has genuinely begun to impact industries that are usually adjacent to the video game world, with some professional sports teams banning Fortnite after coaching staff believed it was causing a rift among players. Twitch superstar and dedicated Fortnite streamer Tyler "Ninja" Blevins continues to make a name for himself as one of the wealthiest streamers in the world as well, showcasing the viability and longevity of Epic Games' battle royale monster.
The surprise, then, is that Fortnite actually came out in 2017, and the Golden Joysticks were, of course, for 2018 this year. Fortnite apparently won on a technicality as reported by GOAT, with GamesRadar, the website behind the awards, bestowing Game of the Year 2018 to Fortnite because the game's early release was in 2017 while the final product was officially launched earlier in 2018. That distinction has come under fire from fans, especially in a year that has seen so many well-reviewed game releases such as Red Dead Redemption 2, God of War, and Spider-Man.
To the award show's credit, the Golden Joysticks didn't leave Red Dead Redemption 2 completely out in the cold, giving it the title of Critics' Choice. It's also important to keep in mind that the Golden Joystick awards are voted for online by members of the public, not industry veterans or games journalists, so Fortnite's ultimate victory is still the product of the video game community at large. The issue many people have with Fortnite as Game of the Year 2018 is that they believe it should never have been on the ballot in the first place.
Despite the negativity surrounding the win, it's likely that this is going to be a one-off event. While a large number of Game of the Year awards are inevitably voted on by fans, some of the industry's biggest ceremonies, like The Game Awards, don't even have Fortnite on the ballot - and Red Dead Redemption 2 fans can rest easy knowing that, somewhere, some way, their pick for best game of 2018 is probably going to pick up the Game of the Year award they feel it deserves.