Predicting TheGamer’s Game of the Year 2023

At TheGamer, we do GOTY picks a little differently. Rather than debating about our collective list endlessly and sanding off our unique opinions to try to slot in with the general critical consensus, every editor here picks their own, and then using the magic of mathematics and a spreadsheet, we tally up the votes and see what the top ten shakes out as. My vote counts the same as everyone else, even though I’m the boss and I have the best taste.

In any case, I find picking our list in this fashion leads to a lot of fascinating quirks that other lists miss out. Last year, The Forgotten City was crowned our game of the year. This year, Citizen Sleeper and Elden Ring took it down to the wire, while Ragnarok tussled with Neon White, Vampire Survivors, and Immortality for that bronze medal position. Where other sites looked to the prestige of Ragnarok and Elden Ring and had the unenviable task of comparing major blockbusters to searing indie delights, we let maths do our thinking for us.

I believe this is the most interesting way to do a GOTY list, and the best way to reflect a site’s personality – it also makes TheGamer’s GOTY list one of the hardest to predict. But that’s not going to stop me, oh no. I wrote that 2023 is going to be an impressive year for gaming, so with that in mind I’m going to try to guess which games make our GOTY list next year. I’ll be back in 12 months to tell you how right I was. I’m going to squeeze in a few honourable mentions too, as I think Dead Space, Street Fighter 6, Baldur’s Gate 3, and Season will just miss out.

10. Goodbye Volcano High

Oh, Goodbye Volcano High. This dominated my list of ‘most anticipated games for 2022’, only to see it delayed out of 2022 and into 2023. I’m holding out hope that when it gets here, it’ll be worth it, and I’ve surely talked about it enough that everyone here will give it a whirl.

9. She Dreams Elsewhere

A little bit of a wild one, but I think She Dreams Elsewhere will be the big indie breakout of 2023. Two years ago I spoke to the developer, and the mix of Paprika, Persona, Pokemon, and Seinfeld (look, that’s what they told me) sounds like it has the potential to be intoxicatingly unique. Likely an also-ran for some other outlets, our ranked vote system should see this one secure a spot.

8. Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora

If She Dreams is wild, this pick is downright feral. TheGamer though is home to more Avatar fans per capita than any site on Earth, and though Ubisoft has been off its A-game recently, I suspect there’s going to be enough here to carry it through. This is the one I’m least confident in, as a delay or disaster remains on the cards.

7. Fire Emblem: Engage

We typically have JRPG/TRPG games just falling short of the top ten, but the name brand recognition of Fire Emblem will see it spread further than the usual circle of dorks. A January release could hurt it, but it’s the biggest name in town so I think it’ll be just fine.

6. Starfield

Controversial to have it this low? I don’t think so. Much like God of War Ragnarok in 2022, I think Starfield will top a few lists, populate the lower reaches of a few more, and miss out on a lot of them altogether. It’s a major game, but it’s also going to be a huge time sink in a busy year, it’s a new IP that might not hit the ground running, and (whisper it) Bethesda is on a cold streak. I’m expecting it to be good but not great.

5. Cassette Beasts

This game won’t be on many radars right now, but I expect it will be a GOTY list staple this time next year. The Pokemon-riff sees you collect beasts on cassette tapes, all while fighting off monsters based on niche horror tropes in a cosy British town where everyone is as lost as you. Despite slamming Pokemon and Zelda together, it’s a unique title that could spring a surprise.

4. Final Fantasy 16

Pretty much the same thing I said about Fire Emblem. We have a lot of nerds who always put Final Fantasy-style games on their lists, but without making much impact on the final ten. However, with Final Fantasy, the name is going to attract a lot more people to play, and if it’s close to the quality of Endwalker or Final Fantasy 7 Remake, it’ll earn a top five spot.

3. Spider-Man 2

Now that we’ve got the ‘Fall 2023’ date confirmed for Spider-Man 2, I have faith it will stick to it given Insomniac’s track record. Both Spider-Man and Miles Morales were incredible games, and if the sequel can learn from the best parts of both of them, we have a real GOTY contender on our hands.

2. The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom

Look, I’m not going to vote for this one, but everyone else and their granny’s dog will. I didn’t quite ‘get’ Breath of the Wild, though I am grateful for its influence. It might seem like a lock for GOTY, but Elden Ring did this year too, only to stumble at the last second.

1. Bomb Rush Cyberfunk

Look, I’m swinging for the fences here. But after The Forgotten City and Citizen Sleeper went back to back, I’m rooting for ‘the little indie that could’ to make it three years running. This highly anticipated title channels Jet Set Radio, and if it has as much to say, it could steal a march while the big games take points off each other.

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