The awards season is finally starting to die down as we enter 2023. From the Golden Joystick Awards to The Game Awards there have been plenty of opportunities for critics and, to a lesser extent, audiences to voice their opinion on some of the best games and live-service titles, such as Cyberpunk 2077, of the last few years.
There continues to be a raging debate online regarding the power the audience vote should have in such competitions with those who argue for more user voting arguing that it’s a greater representation of the gaming audience while those who argue against it say that a more open voting system would lead to awards shows becoming mere popularity contests.
The latest Steam Awards have certainly brought this debate back to the forefront with Cyberpunk 2077 winning the Steam Labour of Love Award. While Cyberpunk 2077 was released to a very poor reception near the end of 2020 with performance issues and bugs plaguing the title it has certainly come a long way since then with regular updates being published by the game’s developer, CD Projekt Red and a rejuvenated interest from fans after the release of Cyberpunk: Edgerunners earlier on in 2021.
Regardless many have questioned whether Cyberpunk 2077 deserved this award and have pointed to the user voting system as creating a popularity contest as opposed to actually celebrating titles that some would see as more deserving such as No Man’s Sky, Dwarf Fortress, and Deep Rock Galatic. Will Nelson from PCGamesN said, “[Cyberpunk 2077] winning this vote really hammers home how divisive public voting can be, and how it skews towards popularity over games that might be more deserving.”
Will cited that games like Dwarf Fortress which only launched late last year are still definitely a labor of love as the game “took two people 20 years to actually get it there, and the success it’s seen since is sure to warm even the coldest of hearts.” Steam’s previous Labour of Love winners have definitely skewed more toward the bigger live-service titles like Grand Theft Auto 5 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive but other years have acknowledged games like Warframe and Terraria.
Regardless of whether you think open public voting is the way to go for these awards or not Cyberpunk 2077 is still by no means the absolute worst choice for the Labour of Love award as the team at CD Projekt Red has really managed to turn the game around in the last two years and hopefully that will continue into the future.