I heard through the grapevine that the main thrust of the promotion and viewer voting for Spike TV’s 2005 Video Game Awards was going to start today. So I was surprised when I visited Spike’s site and found nothing but a rotating Flash ad touting the show’s celebrity guests but not linking to more information.
I did a little digging though, and managed to unearth what seems to be a test version of Spike’s 2005 VGA site (be sure to turn off pop-up blockers to get it to work). The site is easily found by changing one number in the URL of Spike’s 2004 VGA page.
Browsing the Flash-based site turns up a previously unanounced “Power Rank” section where viewers can vote for winners in ten categories, including “Best Weapon,” “Best Boss Character,” and the always-hotly-contested “Best Feel Like a Tough Guy Moment.” This seems to contradict the press release announcing the nominees, which stated viewers would get to vote in two “viewer’s choice” categories.
Included in the Power Rank section are the three journalism categories — Best Gaming Magazine, Best Gaming News Site, and Best Gaming Blog — repeating 2004′s precedent of allowing viewers to choose these winners (instead of the journalist-filled “Video Game Industry Voting Council”). After each vote, visitors get to see the current percentage standings in a simple bar graph (Leaders as of this writing were EGM, GameSpot and Kotaku, but I’m not convinced anyone else has voted yet).
Currrently, visitors can vote in each of these categories as many times as they want by simply scrolling back and forth through the list and re-clicking their selection. No need to reload even! This “feature” might be changed by the time goes into its official launch, but I would not be surprised if it isn’t. By grouping the journalism awards in with unimportant tripe like “Best Boss Character” and “Best Sexy Moment,” Spike has shown that these awards are not even close to the main focus of the show. Why bother to ensure some modicum of fair voting when you’ve already decided that categories like “Cyber Vixen of the Year” are much more important.
The Flash site also has some partially filled-in areas for information on the “real nominees,” video interviews with nominated developers, and a “V.I.P Only” section that pimps out all the celebrities appearing on the show (Unintentionally hillarious quote about Freddy Rodriguez: “The Emmy-nominated ‘Six Feet under’ actor and now film star is quickly becoming too big even for us.”) Check it out before Spike realizes its actually accessible to the public and takes it down.
Update: Kotaku’s Brian Crecente has posted some quick thoughts on being asked to join the Spike TV Video Game Awards Council.
Update: (11/2/05) It looks like the site is now officially live and prominently featured on Spike’s Web site. So far Kotaku and Game Informer are all still winning comfortably, but Gamespot is barely hanging on to a 2% plurality over IGN.