Tough action game Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice was named 2019's Game of the Year by Steam users, while indie hit My Friend Pedro scooped an Innovation award and France's A Plague Tale: Innocence collected the Outstanding Story-Rich Game accolade.
After nominees were selected during a late November to early December Autumn sale, voting went live for most of Steam's year-ending Winter Sale between Dec 20 to 31.
Set in feudal Japan and tasking players with defeating a succession of notoriously difficult enemies, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice released in March 2019 across PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC.
User votes for Sekiro on PC gaming service Steam meant it saw off the challenge posed by more recent hits Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order (November), which was partly inspired by the Sekiro studio's Dark Souls franchise, and prestige sci-fi shooter Destiny 2, which went free-to-play upon hitting Steam in October, as well as another March action release, Devil May Cry 5, and January's acclaimed survival horror remake Resident Evil 2.
This year's awards tightened focus to 2019 releases in most categories, but the Better With Friends award still went to a title that first debuted on Steam in 2013, DayZ.
At the time, it captured lightning in a bottle, combining several fashionable trends – zombie apocalypse, survival, crafting, and a realistic aesthetic – and setting the scene for the Battle Royale genre, pioneered and popularised by PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds (PUBG), then Knives Out, Rules Of Survival and Fortnite.
Thanks to a long Early Access period, in which public retail availability overlapped with intensive development, DayZ did not officially release until December 2018, making it eligible for the 2019 Steam Awards.
VR Game of the Year winner Beat Saber likewise remained eligible for the 2019 Awards, entering Early Access in November 2018 and then achieving final release in May 2019; Outstanding Visual Style winner Gris wasn't part of the 2018 Steam Awards, despite winning various accolades elsewhere, having only released in December of that year.
The Steam Awards did have one trophy expressly designed for ongoing favourites, the Labor of Love Award, which went to one of the service's consistent best-sellers, Grand Theft Auto V, for the second year in a row.
Gymnastic, slow-motion vigilante mission My Friend Pedro, which channels the irreverence and balletic action of box offices successes Deadpool and John Wick, won the Most Innovative Gameplay award, while French-made, French-set medieval escape mission A Plague Tale: Innocence accrued the most votes for Outstanding Story-Rich Game, and grisly fighter Mortal Kombat 11 was collectively adjudged to be the Best Game You Suck At. – AFP Relaxnews