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The Game Awards 2021 recap — all the big winners and game reveals as they happened

Learn about the Game Awards 2021 winners in our recap

The Game Awards 2021
(Image: © The Game Awards)

The Game Awards 2021 are finally over, and Tom's Guide provided live coverage for the big event as it happened. For those who aren't familiar with them, the Game Awards are exactly what they sound like: a big, showy event where host Geoff Keighley recognizes the best PS5 games, the best Xbox Series X games, the best Nintendo Switch games and the best PC games from the past year.

Here are the highlights:

The Game Awards 2021 winners list

  • Games for Impact: Life Is Strange: True Colors
  • Reddit's Game of the Year: Resident Evil Village
  • Best Esports Athlete: Simple
  • Best Esports Team: Natus Vincere
  • Best Esports Coach: Kkoma
  • Best Esports Event: 2021 League of Legends World Championship
  • Best Audio Design: Forza Horizon 5
  • Best Independent Game: Kena: Bridge of Spirits
  • Best Debut Indie Game: Kena: Bridge of Spirits
  • Best Performance: Maggie Robertson, Resident Evil Village
  • Best Action: Returnal
  • Best Art Direction: Deathloop
  • Players' Voice: Halo Infinite
  • Best Role Playing Game: Tales of Arise
  • Best Score & Music: Nier Replicant
  • Content Creator of the Year: Dream
  • Best Multiplayer Game: It Takes Two
  • Best Mobile Game: Genshin Impact
  • Best Narrative: Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy
  • Best Action/Adventure: Metroid Dread
  • Best Ongoing Game: Final Fantasy XIV
  • Best Community Support: Final Fantasy XIV
  • Innovation in Accessibility: Forza Horizon 5
  • Best Sports/Racing: Forza Horizon 5
  • Best Game Direction: Deathloop
  • Best Esports Game: League of Legends
  • Best Family Game: It Takes Two
  • Best Fighting Game: Guilty Gear Strive
  • Best Strategy Game: Age of Empires IV
  • Most Anticipated Game: Elden Ring
  • Game of the Year: It Takes Two

The Game Awards 2021 game reveals

  • The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
  • Homeworld 3
  • Telltale's The Expanse
  • Chivalry II: House Aberfell
  • Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak
  • Thirsty Suitors
  • Have a Nice Death
  • Persona 4 Arena Ultimax (PS4, Steam, Switch)
  • Wonder Woman
  • Alan Wake II
  • Star Wars: Eclipse
  • Final Fantasy VII Remake (PC)
  • Destiny 2: The Witch Queen
  • Slitterhead
  • Nightingale
  • Beat Saber: Lady Gaga
  • Cuphead: The Delicious Last Course
  • Sonic Frontiers
  • Warhammer Space Marine II
  • Dune: Spice Wars
  • Among Us VR
  • Star Trek: Resurgence
  • Rumbleverse
  • Halo (TV series)
  • Arc Raiders

For more details on the awards and games listed above, just search for the keywords in the live blog posts below. We've covered each one in more detail there.

The awards themselves are only part of the show's appeal. During the show, major publishers often announce big games, or provide updates on hotly anticipated ones. Highlights from previous shows included new information about The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Ghost of Tsushima and Dragon Age 4, among other big titles.

Gamers who tuned in this year also saw performances from Imagine Dragons and Sting. Previous musical acts included Green Day, Chvrches and Eddie Vedder.

Finally, Keighley doesn't run a one-man show. Instead, celebrities often hand out awards, ranging from prominent game developers to Hollywood stars. Last year, presenters included Brie Larson, Stephen A. Smith, Nolan North, Reggie Fils-Aimé, Keanu Reeves and Christopher Nolan, just to give a quick cross-section. Tonight's show included Giancarlo Esposito, Carrie-Anne Moss and Guillermo del Toro, among others.

If you'd like to see a recording of the show, check out our tutorial on how to watch the Game Awards 2021. If you just need the basics:

The Game Awards 2021 took place at 5 PM PT / 8 PM ET on December 9, or 1 AM BST on December 10. You can watch recordings of the whole show for free on YouTube or Twitch. It's also embedded below, for your convenience.

Tom's Guide provided up-to-the-minute coverage of the event, complete with award winners, game announcements and performance highlights. We also included screenshots of new games, and trailers whenever possible. Just check below for all of our live blog entries, start to finish.

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The Game Awards 2021

(Image credit: The Game Awards)

Good afternoon, faithful readers. I'm Marshall Honorof, a senior editor at Tom's Guide covering all things gaming. The Game Awards are just a few hours away, and we'll be providing constant updates on our live blog until the big show is ready to start.

First things first: If you want to know more about The Game Awards' categories and nominees, check out the official Game Awards Nominees list. There are 30 different categories with five nominees in each one, meaning that there are dozens of different games and personalities who could earn an award tonight.

Just be aware that voting in each category has already closed. If you didn't get your votes in early, all you can do is wait and see how the show shakes out. Complaining about the nominees on Twitter, however, has no expiration date.

the game awards 2021

(Image credit: The Game Awards)

If you're looking for something to do while you wait for The Game Awards to begin, you could check out The Game Awards Rewind. This part of the official Game Awards website tracks viewership, winners and announcements from every past TGA show, dating all the way back to the very first event in 2014. This is where you can relive everything from the Breath of the Wild gameplay premiere to The Last of Us Part II sweeping a whopping seven awards.

the Sonic the hedgehog movie stars Ben Schwartz (voicing Sonic), James Marsden, and Tika Sumpter

(Image credit: Paramount Pictures/Sega)

What will we see during The Game Awards 2021? The exact reveals are anyone's guess, and developers have been keeping their mouths shut on social media. However, we can take a few educated guesses, based on past shows.

First and foremost, Sega has hinted that we'll see Sonic the Hedgehog in some way, shape, or form. We'll definitely see a trailer for the Sonic the Hedgehog 2 film, according to Sega's official Twitter account. Does this mean that we'll get a new game announcement as well? It wouldn't be that far-fetched.

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It's also been a while since we heard anything about The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2. The Game Awards have a long history of premiering Breath of the Wild content, from its original gameplay trailer to revealing its DLC. If Breath of the Wild 2 is really slated for a 2022 launch, then this would be the perfect time to give us an official title — or a solid release date.

One other rumor is that Hideo Kojima, the idiosyncratic developer behind games such as Metal Gear Solid and Death Stranding, will show up to reveal his new project. Kojima and Keighley have a friendly relationship, so this one is not impossible. On the other hand, the past few years have wreaked havoc on game development schedules, so we may also have to wait a bit longer. 

geoff keighley

(Image credit: Alberto E. Rodriguez / Getty Images)

One fun aspect of The Game Awards is how many musicians and celebrities they bring in to participate. At The Game Awards 2021, we can expect to see some high-profile musical acts, as well as some famous presenters.

First and foremost, the musical guests this year will include Imagine Dragons and Sting. The Game Awards Orchestra will also be on hand to play some beloved video game tunes.

In terms of presenters, Jim Carrey, Giancarlo Esposito, Reggie Fils-Aimé, Simu Liu, Keanu Reeves and Laura Bailey, among others, will all take turns at the mic. Surprise guests are par for the course at awards shows, so we may even see an unexpected face or two.

Stay tuned over the next few hours as we stay current with all The Game Awards 2021 news.

the game awards

(Image credit: The Game Awards)

We now have a timeline for tonight's Game Awards show. Geoff Keighley took to Twitter to proclaim that the whole event will run for three hours, plus a 30-minute pre-show. That means the event will unofficially kick of at 4:30 PM PT / 7:30 PM ET / 12:30 AM BST, and run until approximately 8 PM PT / 11 PM ET / 4 AM BST.

It's a long show, which could mean we're going to get a ton of announcements. On the other hand, if past years are any indication, it could also mean that we're going to get a lot of advertisements and filler. Time will tell.

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the game awards

(Image credit: Imagine Dragons)

Within the last half-hour, Geoff Keighley took to Twitter to talk about tonight's musical guests. Earlier, he discussed a rehearsal with Imagine Dragons, and expressed his excitement over some special guests. Now, he's outside of Sting's dressing room, and memorialized the moment with a tweet.

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the game awards 2021

(Image credit: The Game Awards)

One interesting thing we'll see tonight is the Intel Arc, which represents Intel's entry into the discrete GPU space. While Intel announced its Arc technology back in August, we've never actually seen it in action before. But a Game Awards tweet that went live within the last hour suggests that now might be the time.

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the game awards 2021

(Image credit: Geoff Keighley)

Geoff Keighley's most recent tweet shows off the Game Awards Orchestra led by Lorne Balfe, who composed the score for the recent Black Widow film. Keighley did not go into detail about which game scores the orchestra will be performing tonight, but we imagine there'll be a few familiar favorites, as well as an exciting new debut or two.

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the game awards 2021

(Image credit: Spotify)

Geoff Keighley spoke with Spotify to discuss his predictions for The Game Awards 2021, as well as to talk about the future of video game music in general. It's a fascinating read, if you're looking for something to do until the pre-show starts.

Speaking of which, the pre-show will begin in just about 45 minutes, at 4:30 PM PT / 7:30 PM ET / 12:30 AM BST. We'll have live coverage the second it begins, so please stay tuned for all the latest news.

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the game awards 2021

(Image credit: Grubhub)

With just half-an-hour to go until the preshow begins, it may be worth checking out a promotion from The Game Awards Twitter account. If you order food via Grubhub and use the code ENDWALKER, in honor of the new Final Fantasy XIV expansion, you can get free delivery on any order that costs more than $15. You'll also get a pizza emote to use in-game.

This isn't precisely what we expected to cover while writing about the game awards, but if you were going to order a meal anyway, you might as well save some money on it.

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the game awards 2021

(Image credit: The Game Awards)

We are one minute away from the start of The Game Awards 2021 pre-show! Let's see what's in store.

Sydnee Goodman is hosting the pre-show, and she's promised exclusive content for "completionists" who want to stick around for the entire show.

the game awards 2021

(Image credit: The Game Awards)

the game awards 2021

(Image credit: The Game Awards)

The first game up is Tunic, a Zelda-like adventure about a charming little fox. It will be available for Xbox consoles on March 16.

Life Is Strange: True Colors review

(Image credit: Deck Nine)

The first award is Games for Impact, which has gone to Life Is Strange: True Colors

tribes of midgard

(Image credit: Gearbox Publishing)

We seem to be in an ad break right now. This probably won't be the last commercial of the evening, so hang tight until the Game Awards coverage resumes. In the meantime, they're advertising Risk of Rain 2, Tribes of Midgard and Godfall.

Resident Evil Village

(Image credit: Capcom)

Resident Evil Village won Reddit's award for the Game of the Year. It's not an official Game Awards category, but it's interesting to hear what Reddit thinks.

the game awards 2021

(Image credit: The Game Awards)

King of Fighters XV will be out on February 17 for PS4, PS5 and PC.

the game awards 2021

(Image credit: The Game Awards)

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is also getting made into a video game.

the game awards 2021

(Image credit: The Game Awards)

Homeworld 3 is coming in Q4 2022 for PC, courtesy of Gearbox. 

the game awards 2021

(Image credit: The Game Awards)

Simple has won best esports athlete.

Natus Vincere has won best esports team.

Kkoma has won best esports coach.

2021 League of Legends World Championship has won best esports event.

the game awards 2021

(Image credit: The Game Awards)

Telltale Games is back, and it looks like the first game from the revived studio is based on beloved TV series The Expanse. This game will focus on Camina Drummer.

the game awards 2021

(Image credit: The Game Awards)

From Square Enix, we can expect to see Babylon's Fall on March 3, 2022.

the game awards 2021

(Image credit: The Game Awards)

Chivalry II is available for a free weekend right now. There will also be a new expansion House Aberfell in early 2022.

the game awards 2021

(Image credit: The Game Awards)

Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak, a big expansion for the popular action/RPG, will be available in summer 2022.

the game awards 2021

(Image credit: The Game Awards)

Thirsty Suitors looks like a story-driven adventure game where cooking might play a big role. It seems to be kind of a gender-swapped Scott Pilgrim.

the game awards 2021

(Image credit: The Game Awards)

We got a gameplay trailer for Evil West, which shows off the title's action/fantasy gameplay. The game will be out in 2022.

the game awards 2021

(Image credit: The Game Awards)

Have a Nice Death is a side-scrolling action game with a darkly comic art style, You play as Death and fight off any underling that gets in your way with a scythe and special skills. Early access will start in 2022.

the game awards 2021

(Image credit: The Game Awards)

Forza Horizon 5 has won for Best Audio Design.

the game awards 2021

(Image credit: The Game Awards)

Composer Takeshi Furukawa joined The Game Awards via livestream to show off a game he's been working on: Planet of Lana: An Off-Earth Odyssey. The game will be out in 2022.

the game awards 2021

(Image credit: The Game Awards)

Persona 4 Arena Ultimax will be available on March 17 for Nintendo Switch, PS4 and Steam.

The full Game Awards Show is about to begin, so stay tuned!

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the game awards 2021

(Image credit: The Game Awards)

Here's our first musical performance of the night! Who doesn't love Sting?

the game awards 2021

(Image credit: The Game Awards)

We're kicking things off with a sizzle reel, highlighting some of our favorite games from 2021. Ratchet & Clank, Resident Evil, Deathloop, Far Cry — you know the drill.

the game awards 2021

(Image credit: The Game Awards)

The Game Awards 2021 are officially underway! Our host Geoff Keighley is here.

the game awards 2021

(Image credit: The Game Awards)

Keighley is taking a moment to speak out against harassment and predatory practices. This feels timely, given that Activision Blizzard employees are staging huge protests against their employer due to unfair labor practices, misogyny, and other types of bigotry.

kena bridge of spirits

(Image credit: Ember Lab)

Giancarlo Esposito is presenting the first award for Best Independent Game. The winner is Kena: Bridge of Spirits, which also wins Best Debut Indie Game.

the game awards 2021

(Image credit: The Game Awards)

Looks like we've finally got a new trailer for Hellblade 2: Senua's Saga. This one appears to have some gameplay in it, showcasing Senua moving through aterrifying environment, encountering mythological creatures, and reckoning with the demeaning voices in her head.

the game awards 2021

(Image credit: The Game Awards)

Hellblade 2: Senua's Saga will be out for PC and Xbox consoles, but there's no solid release date yet. Next up is a new game announcement.

the game awards 2021

(Image credit: The Game Awards)

Looks like we're getting a new Star Wars game. This one will apparently take place during the High Republic, and deal with some of that era's greatest battles. It's called Star Wars: Eclipse, and it comes courtesy of adventure game developer Quantic Dream.

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the game awards 2021

(Image credit: The Game Awards)

Now, we've got a few shorter announcements.

Global Gaming Citizen is highlighting drag queens who have become streamers, and channeled their love of gaming into a way to build communities.

Indie World highlighted the Nintendo Switch as a great place to play independent games.

AMD put out a quick ad for its Ryzen chips, which power a variety of gaming systems.

the game awards 2021

(Image credit: The Game Awards)

Bethesda is giving away a whole bunch of game codes, scrolling through the screen very quickly. We've got a screenshot above, so try one and see what happens.

the game awards 2021

(Image credit: The Game Awards)

Lost Ark will come from Amazon games in February.

the game awards 2021

(Image credit: The Game Awards 2021)

There's a new Wonder Woman game coming courtesy of Warner Bros. and Monolith.

the game awards 2021

(Image credit: The Game Awards)

The next award is Best Performance, which goes to Maggie Robertson from Resident Evil Village.

the game awards 2021

(Image credit: The Game Awards)

Here's a big announcement! Alan Wake II will come out in 2023. Remedy's Sam Lake came all the way from Finland to discuss why now is the right time for this highly requested sequel.

Unlike the first game, Alan Wake II will be a survival/horror game rather than an action game with horror elements. Remedy will provide more information next year, but we won't hear much about it before Summer 2022.

the game awards 2021

(Image credit: The Game Awards)

Ben Schwartz, the voice of Sonic: The Hedgehog in the feature film, is here to discuss the sequel. We're about to see the trailer, but first, Jim Carrey will appear via prerecorded video.

the game awards 2021

(Image credit: The Game Awards)

I have no idea but that was all about, but OK, that was Jim Carrey, everyone. Don't grate it in the grinder, indeed.

the game awards 2021

(Image credit: The Game Awards)

The trailer for Sonic the Hedgehog 2 brings back Sonic and Dr. Robotnik, and introduces Tails. There's some stuff with the Chaos Emeralds and Sonic trying to control his powers, as well as a respectable amount of slapstick. If you liked the first film, this should be up your alley.

And yes, Idris Elba is Knuckles.

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the game awards 2021

(Image credit: The Game Awards)

Here's some gameplay footage from Horizon Forbidden West, which is still on track for a February 2022 release.

the game awards 2021

(Image credit: The Game Awards )

The Game Awards Orchestra is now performing music from Horizon Forbidden West, which does sound pretty impressive with full orchestration.

the game awards 2021

(Image credit: The Game Awards)

Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade will finally come to PC on December 16! That should make a lot of fans happy, especially since the release date is so soon.

the game awards 2021

(Image credit: The Game Awards)

Xbox Game Pass for PC is now called PC Game Pass, as we learned via a very strange ad.

There are some other ads coming up, so we're just gonna tackle the highlights.

Google Play highlighted games you can play on Android, such as Genshin Impact and Marvel Future Revolution.

Nintendo made a "thanks for playing" ad highlighting Metroid Dread and other first-party games.

Now there's an ad from Truth, which discourages teens from vaping and using other tobacco products.

Amazon Prime Gaming will have additional game rewards in December.

That's about it. Back to the awards proper, looks like.

Returnal

(Image credit: Sony)

Simu Liu is presenting The Game Award for Best Action, although he was a bit distracted by the promise of playing Halo Infinite later.

The winner is Returnal.

the game awards 2021

(Image credit: The Game Awards)

The next game up is a first-person shooter that takes place on Mars. It's Destiny 2: The Witch Queen, which will come out in February 2022.

the game awards 2021

(Image credit: The Game Awards)

Keiichiro Toyama, who created the original Silent Hill, has a new horror game in development, which employs horrific creatures who disguise themselves as ordinary people in a modern-day setting. It's called Slitterhead. There's no release date yet, however.

the game awards 2021

(Image credit: The Game Awards)

The next game announcement looks like a sci-fi/fantasy/survival/city-building hybrid, which pits you against mythological creatures, armed with relatively simple melee weapons and rifles. It's called Nightingale, and it will be in early access in 2022.

the game awards 2021

(Image credit: The Game Awards)

The Game Awards will now highlight its Future Class: promising young personalities in streaming, game development, and other related disciplines.

Just as before, we're now looking at a few smaller announcements and advertisements back-to-back. The second one is for Beat Saber Lady Gaga on the Oculus Quest 2.

Now there's a short trailer for Lord of the Rings: Gollum, showcasing its titular character.

There's an advertisement for that Grubhub/FFXIV crossover we discussed earlier. That ENDWALKER code still works, if you want free delivery, and some in-game pizza.

PUBG has a new trailer, highlighting that the game will be free to play on January 12.

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the game awards 2021

(Image credit: The Game Awards)

Somerville is an indie adventure game in a sci-fi setting. It comes from a developer called Jumpship.

the game awards 2021

(Image credit: The Game Awards)

Here's some boogie-woogie music, courtesy of the Game Awards Orchestra, paying tribute to Cuphead.

the game awards 2021

(Image credit: The Game Awards)

Cuphead and co. will travel to D.L.C. Island in Cuphead: The Delicious Last Course on June 30, 2022.

the game awards 2021

(Image credit: The Game Awards)

There's a new Sonic game in the works, which looks like an ambitious open-world adventure. it's called Sonic Frontiers, and it will be out during holiday 2022.

the game awards 2021

(Image credit: The Game Awards )

Hideo Kojima appeared virtually to highlight a new film from his friend, director Guillermo del Toro. It's called Nightmare Alley, and seems to focus on an old-timey circus sideshow, with horror and suspense elements.

Deathloop review

(Image credit: Arkane Studios)

Guillermo del Toro appeared remotely to give the award for Best Art Direction.

This category goes to Deathloop.

Tales of Arise review

(Image credit: Bandai)

Here are some rapid-fire awards:

The Players' Voice award goes to Halo Infinite.

The Best Role Playing Game award goes to Tales of Arise.

The Best Score & Music Award goes to Nier Replicant.

The Content Creator of the Year award goes to Dream.

The Best Multiplayer Game award goes to It Takes Two

The Best Mobile Game award goes to Genshin Impact.

the game awards 2021

(Image credit: The Game Awards)

Here are a few more ads:

There's a short segment about highlighting Black creators in the gaming space, from Facebook.

Google Play is highlighting Lineage 2 on mobile.

PUBG Mobile is a battle royale you can play on your phone.

Amazon Luna lets you stream a bunch of games on your PC, phone or TV for one flat subscription fee.

Warhammer Vermintide II is coming as well.

guardians of the galaxy

(Image credit: Square Enix)

Ming-Na Wen is presenting the award for Best Narrative. The winner is Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy.

the game awards 2021

(Image credit: The Game Awards)

Here's a chill exploration/crafting PS4 and PS5 game, where you play as a little girl exploring a dangerous, resource-rich island. It's called Tchia, and it will be out in Spring 2022.

the game awards 2021

(Image credit: The Game Awards)

Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League was going to show off footage — before Amanda Waller herself showed up to quash the proceedings.

the game awards 2021

(Image credit: The Game Awards)

In spite of Waller's exhortations, we're going to watch a trailer for Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League anyway. Looks like a team-based action game where you take control of some fan-favorite DC supervillains, including Harley Quinn and Deadshot. The game will be out in 2022, although we don't have a more specific date yet.

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the game awards 2021

(Image credit: The Game Awards)

Two voice actresses from Forspoken are here to show off a new trailer for the game. It will be out on May 24, 2022.

the game awards 2021

(Image credit: The Game Awards)

Here's a trailer for a new Warhammer game: Warhammer Space Marine II. It looks like a third-person action game, and will be out for PS5, Xbox Series X and PC. There's no release date yet.

the game awards 2021

(Image credit: The Game Awards)

Saints Row has a new trailer, which shows off some of the enemy factions, as well as more moment-to-moment gameplay. It looks like a wacky third-person open-world crime game, which seems fitting. It will come out on August 23, 2022.

the game awards 2021

(Image credit: The Game Awards)

Fall Guys will get a Nightmare Before Christmas tie-in. Looks like we're in for a few more ads in the meantime.

EA has an advertisement for a bunch of its games, including Battlefield 2042 and Madden NFL 22.

Mech Arena is teaming up with Able Gamer to raise money for charity.

Sessions offers royalty-free music for streaming.

WD is showing off its SSDs.

That's about it for ads — looks like it's time for another award.