How to watch The Game Awards, and what to expect this year

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The Game Awards will be streamed live this Thursday, December 9. As always, the trophies and acceptance speeches will be stuck together by thick layers of sponsor glue: trailers, reveals, and appearances from celebrities, including Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss. Retired Nintendo head Reggie Fils-Aime will also show up, but that’s just because of the magic talisman that binds his soul to the Game Awards stage. He literally cannot miss it.

The Game Awards are sort of like an off-season E3 conference, which is perhaps a backhanded compliment, since I mean that the trailers are a bigger deal than the awards—and Keighley has promised six “major” game reveals this year. But it does feel like the show’s cachet increases a little every year that it remains unchallenged as the biggest event of its kind. Nothing really competes.

As you’d expect from a big show with lots of nominators (PC Gamer is one publication among many on the Game Awards jury), the nominations are stacked with games that have broad appeal, such as Deathloop and Psychonauts 2. But hey, those are good games that might also appear in our own Game of the Year Awards.

As for the trailers, more than 10 “world premieres” are promised in the preshow alone. It won’t just be games, either: We’ll see the console-only Unreal Engine 5 tech demo The Matrix Awakens, as well as an “exclusive new preview” of The Matrix Resurrections (hence the appearance from Neo and Trinity). 

Here’s the rundown on what to expect from host and producer Geoff Keighley’s big night:

When are The Game Awards?

The Game Awards start Thursday, December 9, 2021 at 4:30 pm PST, and are scheduled to run until 9 pm. That includes the preshow and the main event. (In previous years, the preshow may as well have been the show-show, since it includes awards and reveals.) 

4:30 pm in Los Angeles is 7:30 pm EST, and 12:30 am Friday morning in the UK. This time zone chart shows when The Game Awards start around the world. 

Where can I watch The Game Awards?

The Game Awards will be streamed on Twitch and YouTube, as well as on a number of other services. Find the full streaming service list here. 

 What big reveals are expected? 

Keighley and friends have been dropping teases for the past few days. Here’s what we know will show up at The Game Awards 2021, which is a small fraction of what we actually expect to be there:

  • A game from Improbable, the virtual world technology company that faded into the background in recent years
  • The first trailer for the Halo TV series
  • Some kind of surprise related to The Matrix Resurrections and its Unreal Engine 5 tie-in demo, The Matrix Awakens
  • Homeworld 3
  • Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League
  • The next Sonic The Hedgehog game, and a teaser for the next movie.
  • A trailer for Destiny 2: The Witch Queen
  • Something called Arc Raiders

According to Keighley, we’ll see “lots of big publisher games”—including six “major” reveals—and “a lot of great stuff from independent studios and publishers too.”

What games are nominated for awards?

You can view all of the Game Awards 2021 nominees here. Below are the Game of The Year contenders:

  • Deathloop
  • It Takes Two
  • Metroid Dread
  • Psychonauts 2
  • Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart
  • Resident Evil Village

Who are the celebrity guests? 

  • Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss, for The Matrix reveals
  • Jim Carrey and Ben Schwartz, for the Sonic reveals
  • Simu Liu, star of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
  • NBA All-Star Paul George
  • Film director (and Hideo Kojima collaborator) Guillermo Del Toro
  • YouTuber Jacksepticeye
  • Actors and Critical Role D&D streamers Laura Bailey and Ashley Johnson
  • Former Nintendo president Reggie Fils-Aime
  • Mulan and Star Wars actor Ming-Na Wen
  • Giancarlo Esposito, who is nominated for his Far Cry 6 performance

 Who are the musical guests? 

Sting and Imagine Dragons, both of whom are featured in League of Legends Netflix show Arcane, will perform at the 2021 Game Awards.

Where is The Game Awards hosted? Is it live? 

Last year’s Game Awards were broadcast from multiple soundstages due to Covid-19 regulations, but the 2021 Game Awards are returning to the Microsoft Theater in LA. The show will be broadcast live.

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What’s the deal with The Game Awards and Activision Blizzard?

Call of Duty is nominated for a couple of awards this year, but otherwise, Activision Blizzard won’t be a part of the 2021 Game Awards, despite Activision president Rob Kostich sitting on the show’s advisory board. That’s the word from Keighley, who made a statement following a brief flurry of social media reactions to a Washington Post interview in which he stated that he would have to “think very carefully” about whether or not the publisher should be involved with the show given the sexual harassment and discrimination allegations made this summer and fall.

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