The video games industry heralded Untitled Goose Game, made by a small Melbourne studio, as the finest game of last year. House House, the game’s publisher, and a number of other indie outfits, won big at the 2020 DICE Awards, hosted by the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences in Las Vegas Thursday night.

Developer House House wasn’t in town to accept its award when it beat out other award-winning big-budget titles, such as Death Stranding and Control. Instead, they sent their pal and fellow Melbourne developer Trent Kusters, co-founder of game development collective League of Geeks.

“It was the hip thing to be into indie games, but now indie games are so accessible and ubiquitous, they‘re now just games that cater to different types of people,” Kusters said, beaming with pride for his friends and peers. “Just like Disco Elysium caters to different people than Sekiro does.“

Disco Elysium, by developer ZA/UM, won Outstanding Achievement in Story, beating out bigger-budget titles like Control.

“For me, indie games have always been so important, especially because of the innovation,” said Helen Hindpere, the game’s writer. “When I think about indie games having great stories, they’ve influenced me and my writing.”

Other big indie wins: Baba Is You by Hempuli Oy won Outstanding Achievement in Game Design, beating out Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice by From Software, the influential Japanese studio behind the Dark Souls series.

Immersive Reality Game of the Year went to Pistol Whip, a VR game made by Cloudhead Games, which beat out Sony’s Blood and Truth (which later won the award for Immersive Reality Technical Achievement). Cloudhead Games, based out of Vancouver, has a staff of only 20 people.

“People don’t know who we are and it’s amazing to get this recognition as a small studio doing, I guess, an interesting thing that people are connecting with,” said Cloudhead’s CEO and creative director Denny Unger.

The team added that its notable that they’re a small studio making only games in VR, a still very-young market that’s already crowded with giants like Sony and Facebook.

Big budget titles still won big awards at DICE, including Remedy’s Control for Outstanding Achievement in Game Direction, EA’s Apex Legends for Outstanding Achievement in Online Gameplay and Nintendo winning the Strategy/Simulation Game of the Year for Fire Emblem: Three Houses.

Kusters said he believes award categories targeting smaller games — think “Best Indie Game” versus “Best Game” — are still necessary, but that he welcomes the celebration of small budget works on a bigger stage, especially at a show as prestigious as the DICE Awards.

“Maybe it’s unfair to put a micro game up against Sekiro or Overwatch for game of the year, so it’s good to have your own categories,” Kusters said. “But when it comes to actual game of the year? Let it take down Sekiro, or if Sekiro is better, let it take the win. Doesn’t matter if it’s made by three dudes in Slovakia or some girl in Estonia Skyping in most days.”

Here is the full list of winners:

Game of the Year: Untitled Goose Game

  • Publisher: Panic
  • Developer: House House

Outstanding Achievement in Game Direction: Control

  • Publisher: 505 Games
  • Developer: Remedy Entertainment

Outstanding Achievement in Game Design: Baba Is You

  • Publisher: Hempuli Oy
  • Developer: Hempuli Oy

Portable Game of the Year: Sayonara Wild Hearts

  • Publisher: Annapurna Interactive
  • Developer: Simogo

Outstanding Achievement for an Independent Game: Untitled Goose Game

  • Publisher: Panic
  • Developer: House House

Immersive Reality Game of the Year: Pistol Whip

  • Publisher: Cloudhead Games
  • Developer: Cloudhead Games

Immersive Reality Technical Achievement: Blood & Truth

  • Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
  • Developer: SIE London Studio

Outstanding Achievement in Online Gameplay: Apex Legends

  • Publisher: Electronic Arts
  • Developer: Respawn Entertainment

Strategy/Simulation Game of the Year: Fire Emblem: Three Houses

  • Publisher: Nintendo Co., Ltd.
  • Developer: Nintendo Co., Ltd., Intelligent Systems Co., Ltd. and Koei Tecmo Games Co., Ltd.

Sports Game of the Year: FIFA 2020

  • Publisher: EA Sports
  • Developer: EA Vancouver

Role-Playing Game of the Year: The Outer Worlds

  • Publisher: Private Division
  • Developer: Obsidian Entertainment

Racing Game of the Year: Mario Kart Tour

  • Publisher: Nintendo Co., Ltd.
  • Developer: Nintendo Co., Ltd.

Fighting Game of the Year: Mortal Kombat 11

  • Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
  • Developer: NetherRealm Studios

Family Game of the Year Super: Mario Maker 2

  • Publisher: Nintendo Co., Ltd.
  • Developer: Nintendo Co., Ltd.

Adventure Game of the Year: Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order

  • Publisher: Electronic Arts
  • Developer: Respawn Entertainment

Action Game of the Year: Control

  • Publisher: 505 Games
  • Developer: Remedy Entertainment

Outstanding Technical Achievement: Death Stranding

  • Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
  • Developer: Kojima Productions Co., Ltd.

Outstanding Achievement in Story: Disco Elysium

  • Publisher: ZA/UM
  • Developer: ZA/UM

Outstanding Achievement in Audio Design: Death Stranding

  • Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
  • Developer: Kojima Productions Co., Ltd.

Outstanding Achievement in Original Music Composition: Control

  • Publisher: 505 Games
  • Developer: Remedy Entertainment

Outstanding Achievement in Character: Untitled Goose Game

  • Publisher: Panic
  • Developer: House House

Outstanding Achievement in Art Direction: Control

  • Publisher: 505 Games
  • Developer: Remedy Entertainment

Outstanding Achievement in Animation: Luigi’s Mansion 3

  • Publisher: Nintendo Co., Ltd.
  • Developer: Next Level Games

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