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Despite Game Awards 2017’s record success, Geoff Keighley doesn’t want it to be gaming’s Oscars

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Viewership was up 200 percent, thanks to premieres

geoff keighley at the game awards 2017 The Game Awards

Geoff Keighley had a hunch that this year’s Game Awards would see a bump in viewership, following last year’s successful show. But with legitimately surprising premieres, an explosive viral moment and praised musical performances, The Game Awards 2017 grew by 202 percent — an increase that host Keighley called “off the charts.”

This year saw more than 11.5 million individual streams of The Game Awards 2017, according to Keighley and his crew. The show’s hashtag was used nearly three times more than the previous year, with people tweeting twice as much about the event overall. That all led to The Game Awards being the most talked about show the night of Dec. 7, according to Nielsen; it even beat out traditional broadcast and cable television.

“There are probably a lot of factors at play,” Keighley told Polygon of the ceremony’s ratings success. “It was a great year for games, we had a record number of viewer votes that drove awareness (8 million leading into the show), and we also added some interactive elements/incentives to a number of the streams that drove a lot of engagement.”

That includes authenticated voting through social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. For viewers, though, it’s easiest to attribute the success to something else entirely: game reveals. And The Game Awards had plenty of them this year, from Bayonetta 3 to a mysterious project by FromSoftware.

Keighley’s a fan of announcements too, he told us. But the thing to keep in mind is that The Game Awards is an awards show, not another E3 keynote, he explained.

“Of course we'd love to have big breaking news like this year in future years, but that's really based on what the game companies have ready to share,” Keighley said. “I'd also like to find a way to add in a couple more award presentations during the show — we maybe had one or two too many premieres.”

Getting more presenters on stage can provide for plenty of live TV drama, after all. We asked Keighley about the show’s most unscripted moment, when A Way Out director Josef Fares went on an anti-Oscars tirade instead of talking up his upcoming game.

“Josef is passionate and a friend — I have a tremendous amount of respect for him. His comments sort of overshadowed the game, which is a shame, but it certainly got everyone talking,” he admitted.

That’s certainly true; Polygon asked Fares about the moment ourselves following the event, and he told us he’d “do it again” if given the chance. But Keighley understood, and even in some way shared Fares’ view on the nature of the traditional awards show. The pomp and circumstance of the Oscars isn’t something he wants for The Game Awards.

“As for comparisons to The Oscars, I know where Josef is coming from — games are a huge force on the entertainment landscape, yet they don't get the respect they deserve,” said Keighley. “In many ways we don't need to be the ‘Oscars of gaming’ or to draw that comparison to the Oscars for validation or legitimacy. The Game Awards are distinct and successful on their own.”

Expect The Game Awards to prove that all over again next December.