In 2003, the Spike Video Game Awards awarded their Game of the Year prize to Madden NFL 2004. The rest is history.
Seven years later, the eighth annual Spike VGAs has grown into one the the industry's most anticipated events of the year. Due to the awards? Of course not. The awards are still widely considered a affront to the integrity of the industry.
Rather, the awards have grown into a marketing bonanza, where publishers like Electronic Arts, Activision and Warner Bros. see fit to announce some of their biggest titles for the following year. Titles rumored to be revealed or shown at the VGAs this year include Mass Effect 3, Star Wars Battlefront 3, Batman Arkham City, Gears of War 3, Resident Evil, Hitman, Saints Row 3 and Guillermo Del Toro's Lovecraftian title.
The reveal of a single title from the above list could bring about the success of a convention. Should each of them make a showing at the awards, the event could be compared to E3 or TGS in terms of public attention. How in the world did such a controversial event grow to such proportions?
The simple answer would be: "If you build it, they will come." A multimillion dollar event for a media starved of television attention with access to a huge, market appropriate audience? Publishers drool at the thought. There's simply nothing else that offers the same visibility.
The more complex answer revolves around the possibility that the gaming media doesn't offer a product that most gamers are interested in. Could celebrities who only know as much about games as their paycheck demands and awards that go to either the most popular brands and or most profitable publishers be what the public wants?
Honestly, I'd rather not know the answer, because it likely doesn't portray the industry most of us love in a way we can be proud of. I'd say make your statement by not watching the tripe, but how can you not when the games to be potentially revealed are just so exciting? It's such a catch-22, and the whole situation would be entirely negative if it didn't allow us to pause, reflect, and ask: "Is this good for video games?"
[Update: Regarding the Star Wars Battlefront 3 rumors, after followup the veracity of the source is extremely questionable. In other words, much like the Hitman 5 rumor (now disproven), it's quite a stretch. The rumor likely grew from BioWare's appearance at the VGAs. BioWare, as many of you know, is working on Star Wars: The Old Republic with LucasArts. If in fact LucasArts would be attending the show, it would almost certainly be for The Old Republic.
Apologies to the Star Wars Battlefront 3 and LucasArts communities, no disrespect intended. I'm just another fan that believes Battlefront could (and should) be revealed at any upcoming event.]