It earns you a badge, I guess.
During Steam's Autumn Sale you can nominate games that came out on Steam in the previous year for categories like Better With Friends and Best Game You Suck At, and one game released at any time for the Labor of Love award. (Good luck thinking of something to nominate for VR Game of the Year). Then during the Winter Sale the most-nominated games are put in front of everyone for a round of voting so we can see what other people are wrong about.
Have you nominated anything this year, or voted in previous years? Red Dead Redemption 2 was Steam's Game of the Year in 2020 and Apex Legends took home Best Game You Suck At.
Do you vote in the Steam Awards?
Here are our answers, plus some from our forum.
Andy Chalk: I used to make a point of nominating and voting. I was on a big Steam card/badge kick for awhile and wouldn't miss any opportunity to load up with digital swag. But eventually my interest in the whole thing faded, and now I can't be bothered. It doesn't seem cute or clever anymore, just a bit silly and pointless. Of course that's basically the state of the entire world at this point so maybe there's more going on here than just a Steam thing, but the bottom line is that I don't expect to take part in this year, and that feels fine.
Lauren Morton: I've never been big into the Steam cards and badges so I normally forget about the Steam Awards until the Black Friday Sale rolls around and it's right on the front page. I do enjoy chatting through options with friends though, so this year a couple of us sat around in voice chat playing various games while I read off nomination categories. The "sit back and relax" category discussion reminded me to boot up Dorfromantik, which I'd bought but not played, to compare it with Cloud Gardens, and Townscaper. It's a fun way to look back on the year and recall what each of us spent time on!
Evan Lahti: I take awards stuff seriously—it's one of the ways that we express PC Gamer's authority on the hobby. In addition to our own GOTY awards and our Top 100, PC Gamer participates in nominations and voting for The Game Awards, The Golden Joysticks, and other annual presentations. Steam's awards don't really jive with me as a meaningful system, though—the award names are deliberately loose, but the bigger problem is one that Valve can't avoid: more and more of the biggest PC games aren't on Steam. Chivalry 2 and Darkest Dungeon 2 were two of the best things I played this year, and they're both on Epic. Any awards that omit games found elsewhere feels incomplete, and at odds with the spirit of the platform.
Jody Macgregor: I used to be religious about keeping up with new music, feeling like I had a finger on its pulse. At some point that urge swapped over to games and wanting to be "part of the conversation" about them instead. That includes keeping up with awards, which help organize my thoughts about a year, and remind me of cool things I missed. So yeah, I vote in the Steam Awards. This year I nominated Unsighted for Most Innovative Gameplay because of the way it made time limits fresh and exciting again, and nominated extremely Vangelis-sounding cyberpunk twin-stick shooter The Ascent for Best Soundtrack. Videogame soundtracks are the music I keep up with now.
From our forum
Zloth: I don't play games when they release - I normally wait several months to let them get patched up. The only game I played this year that qualifies for an award (other than Labor of Love) is Mechwarrior 5, and that only made it because it released on Steam a year late! I guess that makes it my game of the year!?
When the awards first came out, they didn't put any kind of limit on the nominees. I was able to vote for the games I had the most fun with that year. Naturally, none of them got to the final round, but at least I could vote what I felt. I don't know, maybe this year I'll nominate stuff from my wish list to give some devs a boost.
Frindis: I try to do it every year and so far I have rounded up:
Game of the year award: Valheim
Fantastic game, awesome options for building, beautiful art, music, and exploration. Basically, this game got it all!
Better with friends award: Super Animal Royale
A very fun game, one of the top battle royale games you can play because of being both fast-paced, easy to learn, has fun weapons, beautiful art style, and of course the most important thing: furry animals.
Outstanding visual style award: Psychonauts 2
The visual style of that game is just insanely well done, which makes it a joy to roam around in different minds.
Best soundtrack award: Cyberpunk 2077
While the game was not what I expected it to be, the music was pretty good.
Sit back and relax award: Forza Horizon 5
Since you can do AFK races in FH5, this one wins the prize of total relaxation. Ok, ok, I'm slightly joking here. It is though, a very relaxing game to roam in. Looks and sounds great and you'll spend hours just drifting, jumping, exploring, and forgetting all about time as we know it.
mainer: Every year I try to, but it seems like my votes don't register unless I vote in each category, which I can't do because I don't play many new releases. The problem expands, because I can't vote for any one game in more than one category, which I feel I should be able to do. Game of the Year, Best Story, Best Music could theoretically apply to a single game; but I'm unable to do so.
I've only purchased 2 games that were released this year: Mass Effect Legendary, and Solasta: Crown of the Magister, and both those games I would have voted for in multiple categories but wasn't able to.
I also don't feel right about voting in a certain category for a game I've never played (like VR). I wish that we could vote in the categories that apply to us personally, and have those votes count, even if we didn't vote in every single category.
Kaamos_Llama: I have done but like others I don't play every new game, and it feels weird to just vote for one of the two games released that year I happen to have played.
ZedClampet: I was kind of turned off by the Steam Awards that first year when the categories were mostly nonsense, but I'll vote if I happen to be on a game's page and they have one of those "Vote for us!" notices. I don't know, I might look into a little more, but I'm not sure what I've even played that counts toward this year.
Note: I've just gone through my games and voted in every category except "Game you suck at" because I'm a gaming god.
Withywarlock: The power cut out just as I was about to post my response. It might go out again, so I'd best hurry up! Anyway, I participate in the Steam Awards because I'm one of those weird people who likes Steam Badges and Levels. But this year I'm in a bit of a pickle because even if I had followed PC gaming as much as I did before I got into Dungeons & Dragons, I wouldn't be able to tell you that much about what's happened this year. Cyberpunk disappointed, Valheim came out of nowhere, Squenix did some bad games, and that's all I can really tell you. So my choices will be willy-nilly this year just so I can get myself some XP.
I used to get all up in arms over awards ceremonies. Now I see them as a bit of fun. It's a safe bet which games will win which awards, but hey, it's something to wile away the time with. Though that's what the games you're voting on are for I suppose.