Firstly it is important to say that MCV is an excellent magazine staffed by good people that does an important job. There is even an article on this blog praising it and there are a lot of links from this blog to their website. Having a regular, quality trade newspaper is an essential for any industry. People need the news, the background, the knowledge and the advertising that MCV provides. It does a lot for video gaming.
Awards, in any industry, are often thought up by the marketing staff of magazines. They are a cheap and powerful way to get the magazine’s brand over to a wide audience in a way that implies that they are authoritative and at the hub of their industry. The NME awards are a prime example of this at work. Because they are so easy to do and have such a powerful upside potential these awards have proliferated. There are a huge number of them in the film, music and, of course, the video game industry.
I don’t like them and never have. They tend to be clique ridden self congratulation mired in politics and hypocrisy. And an expensive, company paid for, booze up. We won a lot of them at Codemasters. We gave the team responsible for winning the award the silverware till they got fed up with it, then we put it in a cabinet in reception.
In former days I vented my opinion about awards by, for a while, creating alternative, satirical, Bruce Everiss awards that were published in CTW every year (it is very tempting to restart these on here). So my opinion is nothing new.
The MCV awards are a bit different in that they are trade awards from a trade newspaper. So the potential marketing upside is far less than for a consumer title creating consumer awards. But then they do have the benefit of less potential competition for this particular niche. Everyone involved in the awards will have put a huge amount of work into them and the mechanics of them are very professional and well done.
The big problem is that the MCV awards are sponsored. Not only that, they are sponsored by some of the very companies that could win them. This really is a bit Robert Mugabe. No matter how transparent the award selection procedure, and I am sure that at MCV it was, there is still that lingering possibilty of lack of credibility for the awards. Lets take a look at some of the sponsors for the recent awards and what they won.
- Nintendo. Won 4 awards. PR Team, Marketing Team, Games Publisher and Grand Prix.
- Codemasters. Won UK development team. Yet in the same week MCVs sister magazine, Develop, published their list of the world’s most successful studios. Codemasters were 31st, down from 27th the previous year. With five British studios above them in the ratings.
- Gem. Paul Donnelly, their boss, won a Special Recognition Award.
Now obviously this is all coincidence. But I have spoken to quite a few people in the industry about it and there is an underlying sense of cynicism. Mainly about the sponsorship but with that cynicism then transferring itself to the whole awards process and to MCV itself. This is extremely unfortunate. Can’t MCV find sponsors who are not in the running for awards? Or sponsors willing to preclude themselves from awards? It would help perceptions a lot.
Now, to lighten things up, here is the dire promotional video for the awards.