Friday Debate: should “Early Access” games like PUBG be up for Game of the Year?

2 min read


As we head towards the end of the year of our lootbox lord 2017, we begin to head in to “Game of the Year Award Season.” The first to kick off is arguably the most “official” of the lot, The Game Awards. As usual, there are five games up for nomination as the best game of 2017.

It’s caused a bit of consternation and controversy – because one of the five games is not like the others.

For reference, the games are:

  • Horizon: Zero Dawn (Guerrilla Games / Sony Interactive Entertainment)
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Nintendo EPD / Nintendo)
  • Persona 5 (Atlus)
  • PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG Corp.)
  • Super Mario Odyssey (Nintendo EPD / Nintendo)

All of those games are single player affairs, with the sole outlier here being PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds – which is a multiplayer only game. That’s not the only differentiator, nor what’s caused the controversy. No, rather it’s the fact that PUBG is still technically an Early Access game – and many contend that it shouldn’t even be up for consideration.

Some argue that it’s being released properly in mid-December, and thus should be eligible. Others assert that it’s a beta, and could change heavily once it’s released, making its inclusion a mockery.

Me? I absolutely think that PUBG deserves the nomination, if not necessarily the win. It’s a game that millions of people have been playing for the better part of a year now; is the best, most tense and exciting pure multiplayer experience you can have right now; and it’s changed the industry, with a billion or so other Battle Royale styled games now vying for a slice of that pie.

As for the argument that it could change – becoming more predatory in its microtransactions – between now and release? Moot. Many games are services now, and almost “live” games change once they’re out. The beloved Rocket League added Lootboxes and microtransactions a year after it was out. Just this morning, Star Wars Battlefront II had its microtransactions (temporarily!) yanked out. Games can change whether they’re in beta, early access or well after they’ve been released.

Discounting what you may or may not feel about PUBG itself, do you think that games that have yet to be officially released should be up for GOTY awards?

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Critical Hit as an organisation.

Last Updated: November 17, 2017

Geoffrey Tim

Editor. I'm old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time - they were capable of being masterpieces. I'm here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.

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