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Red Dead Redemption 2 wins surprising Steam award, everyone hates it

RDR2, which ended major support in 2022, just won Steam's Labor of Love award for 2023 and everyone's confused as to why it happened.

Red Dead Redemption 2 Labor of Love Steam award: a cowboy holding up and firing a six-shooter

Red Dead Redemption 2 has won the Labor of Love Award at this year’s Steam Awards, and despite these being entirely community-driven commendations, we’re all trying to think why the 2019 Rockstar PC port deserves it over the other nominees. With some of the PC community rallying behind the re-nominated Deep Rock Galactic, questions are being raised as to how this can happen, and I think the answer is quite simple.

Red Dead Redemption 2 is one of the best PC games out there, but it came out in 2019 (on PC) and has had relatively slim pickings on the Red Dead Online front recently – especially when compared to Rockstar’s decade-old GTA 5.

Rockstar already bid farewell to RDR2 back in 2022, so why has it won Steam’s Labor of Love award in 2023 – a prize that, to quote Valve, is awarded when “devs continue to nurture and support their creation?” After all, Rockstar reused an old event from 2021 in both 2022 and 2023, which feels at odds with Valve’s claims that RDR2 “to this day, is still getting new content after all these years.”

Red Dead Redemption 2 Labor of Love Steam award: reddit posts about RDR2 winning

To be fair, Starfield also won the Most Innovative Gameplay Award and players are confused by that too, so the community voting has caused quite a stir this year. Even a post in the RDR2 subreddit says “This is not deserved right?” while others call the Starfield win a “joke.”

I don’t think this is all some joke though. As if online communities like Reddit are in disagreement, did the average players of these games all decide in unison to do a prank, or is it simply because of their scale? I’m seeing comment after comment and post after post saying Deep Rock Galactic should have won the Labor of Love Award, but it was nominated in both 2022 and 2023, being beat out by Cyberpunk 2077 and Red Dead Redemption 2 respectively.

So it has to be about scale in these cases then. CD Projekt Red and Rockstar Games are both massive, so the community voting for these games over the rest feels more like a popularity contest for a game people like, over anything that might deserve it more on paper. That said, we’ve talked about how Terraria’s much-deserved 2021 Steam Awards win led to a massive update for the fans, so it’s not as if we never see deserving games win.

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At their core, the Steam Awards are a popularity contest, and while this doesn’t mean the biggest game will always win each award I have no doubts that this is a contributing factor. In the end, it’s just a virtual award anyway, but that doesn’t mean it’s not incredibly weird to see what is basically an abandoned game win something focused on “nurture and support,” a year after it’s been left behind.

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