Baldur’s Gate 3 wins big at Bafta Games Awards

A female character with yellow skin and silver armour holding a swordLarian Studios

Baldur’s Gate 3 led the pack at the 20th Bafta Game Awards, with five wins including the coveted best game title.

The role-playing game based on Dungeons & Dragons also scooped prizes for music and narrative, with an acting award for Andrew Wincott as fan-favourite devil Raphael.

Super Mario Bros. Wonder won two, while Star Wars Jedi: Survivor missed out despite having six nominations.

Meanwhile, photography-based puzzler Viewfinder won best British game.

Last year gaming sales accounted for £4.7bn in the UK, more than double that of the music industry, according to the digital entertainment and retail association (ERA).

There was some love for Nintendo’s two big games of 2023, with wins for The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom and Super Mario Bros. Wonder in various categories.

But Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 came away with just one win despite being nominated nine times overall.

A group of people stood on stage celebrating

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“I still can’t believe we’re standing here,” said Larian Studios’ Swen Vincke as he stood at the podium surrounded by his colleagues.

“A lot of people put a lot of heart and soul into making Baldur’s Gate 3, so this is amazing – thank you Bafta, thank you everybody.”

The game’s lead writer Sarah Baylus had previously called it “an honour and a privilege” to collect the award for best narrative, while the game also picked up the EE Player’s Choice prize, which is voted for by members of the public.

And Baldur’s Gate 3’s composer Borislav Slavov struggled to hold back tears when he took the trophy for best music – thanking Bafta for “this special moment in my life”.

“I believe if you don’t leave a piece of your heart in the music, nobody can enjoy it… I would like to say thank you to each and every one of you in this room,” he said.

A man looks emotional as he stands at a podium

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Elsewhere, while it missed out on the main prize, Dave the Diver game director Jaeho Hwang was enthusiastic as his sushi-restaurant-management game beat out big name rivals to pick up the award for game design.

“Thank you so much for giving us this award, it means a lot to us – we just beat Zelda,” he said.

“As everyone knows, last year was one of the biggest years in gaming history, so I was just happy to stand next to these incredible games – but now I’m bringing this heavy mask back to Korea!”

Jaeho Hwang standing at the podium

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As well as winning in the British game category, Sad Owl Studios also won for having the best new intellectual property.

Their first trip to the podium was one full of tears, but by the time they returned they were more concise – joking that they hadn’t prepared any speeches, and if people wanted more of their game, they’d first need the money to develop it.

A group of people stood on stage, many of whom wearing kilts

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As well as being the 20th anniversary of the awards, this year is the fifth-running since the best performer category was split into two – awarding actors in both a leading and supporting role.

Performing in a modern game tends to be more than recording voice lines in a studio, with actors now generally having their entire body captured to be replicated in-game.

Andrew Wincott, who won the performer in a supporting role award, said he had not done motion capture before, and was surprised to be asked to wear a skin-fitting bodysuit for the performance on his first day – before a fire alarm went off.

“Out of nowhere, I was suddenly standing on Croydon High Street in the drizzle of a Monday morning,” he said.

“So this is glamour, people are walking past saying I’ve seen that bodysuit in M&S, I must get one… but it was all fine, there was no fire – only in the nine hells.”

Phil Wang in a celebratory pose at the podium

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The awards come after a year peppered with blockbuster games, leading some to call it a vintage year in gaming.

But that is in stark contrast to the upheavals occurring behind the scenes, where it feels like the games industry has taken a battering from the world’s most insidious final boss – job cuts.

Unity, Microsoft, and Electronic Arts are just a few of the big-name game companies to have grabbed headlines by shedding thousands of staff between them in recent months.

While the winners will rightly celebrate, it cannot be forgotten that many working in the industry will not be so happy as their future employment prospects remain blighted by uncertainty.

Phil Wang, who hosted the show, made reference to this in his opening monologue, while others spoke up the quality of the games on show – with one presenter, YouTuber Jane Douglas, calling designing good video games “an art form”.

That was no clearer than a touching moment where the room was brought to silence by a stunning performance of Late Goodbye from Max Payne 2, in memory of some of those in the gaming industry who died this year.

The Bafta Games Awards winners in full:

  • Debut game: Venba
  • Audio achievement: Alan Wake 2
  • Multiplayer: Super Mario Bros. Wonder
  • Evolving game: Cyberpunk 2077
  • Game design: Dave the Diver
  • British game: Viewfinder
  • Artistic achievement: Alan Wake 2
  • New intellectual property: Viewfinder
  • Narrative: Baldur’s Gate 3
  • Performer in a supporting role: Andrew Wincott, Raphael in Baldur’s Gate 3
  • Family: Super Mario Bros. Wonder
  • EE Players’ Choice: Baldur’s Gate 3
  • Animation: Hi-Fi Rush
  • Music: Baldur’s Gate 3
  • Game Beyond Entertainment: Tchia
  • Technical achievement: The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom
  • Performer in a leading role: Nadji Jeter, Miles Morales in Marvel’s Spider-Man 2
  • Best game: Baldur’s Gate 3

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