How to watch The Game Awards, and what to expect this year

The Game Awards will be streamed live this Thursday, December 9. As always, the trophies and acceptance speeches will be stuck together by thick layers of sponsor glue: trailers, reveals, and appearances from celebrities, including Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss. Retired Nintendo head Reggie Fils-Aime will also show up, but that's just because of the magic talisman that binds his soul to the Game Awards stage. He literally cannot miss it.

The Game Awards are sort of like an off-season E3 conference, which is perhaps a backhanded compliment, since I mean that the trailers are a bigger deal than the awards—and host Geoff Keighley has promised (opens in new tab) six "major" game reveals this year. But it does feel like the show's cachet increases a little every year that it remains unchallenged as the biggest event of its kind. Nothing really competes.

Here's how to watch the 2021 Game Awards and what to expect:

When are The Game Awards?

The Game Awards start Thursday, December 9, 2021 at 4:30 pm PST, and are scheduled to run until 9 pm. That includes the preshow and the main event. (In previous years, the preshow may as well have been the show-show, since it includes awards and reveals.) 

4:30 pm in Los Angeles is 7:30 pm EST, and 12:30 am Friday morning in the UK. This time zone chart (opens in new tab) shows when The Game Awards start around the world. 

Where can I watch The Game Awards?

What big reveals are expected? 

According to Keighley, we'll see "lots of big publisher games"—including six "major" reveals—and "a lot of great stuff from independent studios and publishers too." More than 10 "world premieres" are promised in the preshow alone. 

It won't just be games: We'll see the console-only Unreal Engine 5 tech demo The Matrix Awakens, as well as an "exclusive new preview" of The Matrix Resurrections (hence the appearance from Neo and Trinity). 

Keighley and friends have been dropping teases for the past few days. Here's what we know will show up at The Game Awards 2021, which is a fraction of what we actually expect to be there:

  • A game from Improbable (opens in new tab), the virtual world technology company that faded into the background in recent years
  • The first trailer for the Halo TV series
  • Some kind of surprise related to The Matrix Resurrections and its Unreal Engine 5 tie-in demo, The Matrix Awakens
  • Homeworld 3 (opens in new tab)
  • Dying Light 2
  • Tiny Tina's Wonderland
  • The Lord of the Rings: Gollum
  • Steelrising, a new Spiders RPG
  • Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League (opens in new tab)
  • The next Sonic The Hedgehog game, and a teaser for the next movie.
  • A trailer for Destiny 2: The Witch Queen
  • Something called Arc Raiders (opens in new tab)

What games are nominated for awards?

As you'd expect from a big show with lots of nominators (PC Gamer is one publication among many on the Game Awards jury (opens in new tab)), the nominations are stacked with games that have broad appeal, such as Deathloop and Psychonauts 2. But hey, those are good games that might also appear in our own Game of the Year Awards.

You can view all of the Game Awards 2021 nominees here (opens in new tab). Below are the Game of The Year contenders:

  • Deathloop
  • It Takes Two
  • Metroid Dread
  • Psychonauts 2
  • Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart
  • Resident Evil Village

Who are the celebrity guests? 

  • Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss, for The Matrix
  • Jim Carrey and Ben Schwartz, for the Sonic movie
  • Simu Liu, star of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
  • NBA All-Star Paul George
  • Film director (and Hideo Kojima collaborator) Guillermo Del Toro
  • YouTuber Jacksepticeye
  • Actors and Critical Role D&D streamers Laura Bailey and Ashley Johnson
  • Former Nintendo president Reggie Fils-Aime
  • Mulan and Star Wars actor Ming-Na Wen
  • Giancarlo Esposito, who is nominated for his Far Cry 6 performance

Who are the musical guests? 

Sting and Imagine Dragons, both of whom are featured in League of Legends Netflix show Arcane, will perform at the 2021 Game Awards.

Where is The Game Awards hosted? Is it live? 

Last year's Game Awards were broadcast from multiple soundstages due to Covid-19 regulations, but the 2021 Game Awards are returning to the Microsoft Theater in LA. The show will be broadcast live.

See more

What's the deal with The Game Awards and Activision Blizzard?

Call of Duty is nominated for a couple of awards this year, but otherwise, Activision Blizzard won't be a part of the 2021 Game Awards, despite Activision president Rob Kostich sitting on the show's advisory board. That's the word from Keighley, who made a statement following a brief flurry of social media reactions to a Washington Post interview in which he stated that he would have to "think very carefully" about whether or not the publisher should be involved with the show given the sexual harassment and discrimination allegations made this summer and fall.

Tyler Wilde
Executive Editor

Tyler grew up in Silicon Valley during the rise of personal computers, playing games like Zork and Arkanoid on the early PCs his parents brought home. He was later captivated by Myst, SimCity, Civilization, Command & Conquer, Bushido Blade (yeah, he had Bleem!), and all the shooters they call "boomer shooters" now. In 2006, Tyler wrote his first professional review of a videogame: Super Dragon Ball Z for the PS2. He thought it was OK. In 2011, he joined PC Gamer, and today he's focused on the site's news coverage. His hobbies include amateur boxing and adding to his 1,200-plus hours in Rocket League.