The Game Awards 2019 released its nominees for Game of the Year 2019, and the most surprising choice is Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, a title that many consider to be the peak experience within the franchise but not one that was on people's radar the same way that games like Control and Death Stranding were. The Game Awards is the Geoff Keighley-hosted end of year gala for the video game industry that is viewed by fans as the definitive authority in awards shows for gaming, and as a result, its Game of the Year nominations each year tend to hold a lot of weight in the community.
Smash Bros. Ultimate has been a huge success for Nintendo, and was released so late last year that it has eligibility for this year's round of awards. With that much breathing room and a DLC machine that constantly churns out some of the most hyped announcements of the year, Smash Bros. Ultimate has remained one of 2019's most visible successes at every turn. Still, it's not exactly the traditional sort of experience many would associate with a Game of the Year award, usually reserved for games that flex incredible graphical prowess blended with story-telling and dynamic gameplay. Stacking the deck further against Smash Bros. Ultimate is the fact its a fighting game, a category that rarely wows outside of awards for its own genre.
That's changing this year on The Game Awards 2019 Game of the Year ballot, as the show's official Twitter revealed 2019's nominees to the shock of many. While it was obvious titles like Control and Death Stranding were always going to be present on the list, the late addition of The Outer Worlds - Obsidian's latest RPG effort that Fallout fans and more have adored - and the presence of Smash Bros. Ultimate are the two biggest talking points. Joining those four games are the stellar Resident Evil 2 remake from Capcom and Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, a game that's largely flown under the radar since its first few months of release but nevertheless impacted gaming in a big way early in 2019.
Your 2019 nominees for Game of the Year are:— The Game Awards (@thegameawards) November 19, 2019
📍Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
📍Resident Evil 2
📍Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice⁰📍The Outer Worlds
🗳 Vote now on Google: https://t.co/HTOiCanR54 pic.twitter.com/MDYkiHD8zF
Of all those games, though, the biggest surprise remains Smash Bros. Ultimate, not because it is lacking in quality, but because it would be an unprecedented win if it manages to take home the award for Game of the Year. Since the award show's inception in its current form in 2014, there has never been a fighting game even nominated for Game of the Year, much less in line to win it. With consistent fan engagement, an incredible base product, and DLC that improves the game each time a new Smash Bros. Ultimate character is released, now might be the time for the genre - and Nintendo, who won big two years ago with Breath of the Wild - to step back into the spotlight.
Of course, there are some serious contenders, and Control and Death Stranding are both more "traditional" choices for a Game of the Year trophy. With that said, though, the Smash community is one of the biggest and most passionate in gaming, and consumers can bet they'll be making their voices as loud as possible in the build-up to the decision for what title takes home Game of the Year 2019 at The Game Awards in under a month.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is available now on Nintendo Switch.
Source: The Game Awards/Twitter