The GDC recently announced its nominees for the 2017 awards, which will be held March 1. Separate from simply The Game Awards back in December, one can perhaps argue the GDCAs are more 'prestigious' although I think that's somewhat of a false dichotomy. They share many of the same games, and I'm fairly certain I can predict what will win vs. what games I think should've actually won in a number of categories, and as is my wont, I shall do so now.
Just a quick caveat to keep in mind before diving in: I'm only going through a few of the categories of interest to me, and basing my assessment both on what I think the industry will swing toward as well as the titles I actually played so far this year. And as per tradition, Syntax Error season 3 will debut with our picks of the top games of the year, at the end of March after the GDCAs.
So load up and here we go: Starting with Best Audio, I don't see how DOOM can't win, but I suppose it's possible it'll go to Overwatch simply because it's seemingly become the darling game of this year, but one which I must refrain commenting on since I didn't play any of it. DOOM's score though is the perfect compliment to the nonstop action of the game and certainly deserves it in my eyes.
Best Debut is a tougher one, and I'll take a moment here to salute the GDCAs for having both a better represented field than The Game Awards and for listing a number of honorable mentions in each category that I could easily see making the actual nominees in many cases. Overall, my pick for this would be Heart Machine's Hyper Light Drifter, especially given the circumstances of its development. However I wouldn't be disappointed and/or surprised if Firewatch won, as it's also garnered a lot of attention since release and is an excellent opening title from developer Campo Santo as well. Stardew Valley might be a strong third and definite fan favorite, giving it a chance at taking the Audience Award, but I don't think it's enough to grab the win here.
Best Design is another tight race, but as I mentioned Overwatch has so much momentum going into this, that if it wins GOTY then it almost certainly will win here too. I would choose Dishonored 2 since that has quickly become a frontrunner in my personal list for best games and specifically due in large part to its design. If DOOM doesn't win for audio, then it should definitely be recognized here, as its level design is similarly top-notch.
The Innovation award is kind of an odd one, being a more vague category, but from among the list, it's likely Inside will snag it, which I have no problem with, but again I think Firewatch is very strong in this aspect and also would be a fine choice.
Best Narrative is one I'm always closely interested in. Uncharted 4 looks to be the best bet, not hurt by the fact it already won in the GAs, but I could see it also going to either Firewatch or Inside here, as they look to be battling each other in every category they're both up for.
Finally we come to the MVP of 2016: Game of the Year. Overwatch is all but a lock for this, with Uncharted 4 the obvious second. Firewatch and Inside continue their wrestling match, but I think it's more likely they will win elsewhere at least once but not quite make GOTY. For myself, Dishonored 2 is everything I think a GOTY title should be, and although I don't think it will win at the GDCAs based on this list, I will certainly have more to say about it on our episode.
Among the honorable mentions, Titanfall 2 was listed for three categories (audio, design, and GOTY) and having just recently gotten around to playing it, I think it either should have outright been nominated for at least one of those, and in a less strong year might've had a better chance at being included and possibly winning (most likely for design if I had to choose.)
So, there have you have the GCD 2017 nominees and my predictions/evaluation of them. 2016 was in my opinion a much better year for games than last, and the lists reflect the high quality of titles that were released. Stay tuned as always for the right opinion, i.e. mine, and I'll see you all in the next match.