Announced in June 2019 by the National Video Game Syndicate (SNJV), representing French video game studios, the first Pegasus video game ceremony took place Monday evening at the Madeleine Theater in Paris.
The idea: to reward the best of international (a little) and French (especially) production.
The ambition: to win once and for all, unlike its predecessors the Golden Tilts or its competitors the Ping Awards, as the video game equivalent of the Cinema Cesars.
The challenge: to succeed in demonstrating the legitimacy and seriousness of the company, while sprinkling it if possible with the little perfume of glamor and glitter which is still lacking in an entertainment certainly immensely popular, but which does not end to maintain an inferiority complex vis-à-vis its cousin the cinema.
Legitimacy, the Pegasus intend to draw it from their system of submission, open to all (we will come back to this), as well as from their multiple electoral colleague, a “Academy of video game arts and techniques” representing more than a thousand professionals from six different trades.
The seriousness, Monday evening, was there too. The ceremony, broadcast on the Twitch streaming platform (via the webTV LeStream) but also on television on ES1, was professional, dynamic, square. We just regretted in the room that the applause tended to cover the voices of the people on the stage, while conversely, on television or streaming, the lack of capture in the room could give the impression – wrongly – that some of the animators' humor fell flat.
Glamor finally. Co-hosted by the impeccable Salomé Lagresle and Manu Lévy, the show took place under the gold of the beautiful Madeleine Theater, in the 8e arrondissement of Paris, an unusually chic place for a video game ceremony. On the invitation card, a “correct outfit of rigor” which one does not remember having already crossed in twelve years of trade, and which means everything.
Full board for “A Plague Tale”
What about the charts? Already, it should be noted that in addition to the winning games, the academy wanted to give two prizes to two very different personalities. To Yves Guillemot first, founder and president of the giant Ubisoft, a “pegasus of honor”.
The most powerful boss in French video games, immediately rewarded at a ceremony imagined by an employers' union: an exercise in self-celebration sometimes mocked on social media, but that is good, for the Pegasus, a founding act: in 2017, the same Yves Guillemot did not wish to follow up when the jury of the competing ceremony, the Ping Awards, wished to award him a comparable price.
Second award-winning personality, Jehanne Rousseau, director of the most modest Spiders studio, with a “Pegasus of Personality of the Year”. The director of the game Greedfall This was the occasion to call for greater diversity in a sector (the development of video games) dominated by 86% by men. In addition, she announced the creation, in partnership with the Loisirs Numériques association, of a “video games” grant for young people from working-class backgrounds.
As for the prize list of the games proper, to put it simply: it was completely dominated by In Plague Tale: Innocence.
Out of thirteen prizes awarded to French video games, six were won by the Asobo studio: price for visual excellence, price for best sound universe, price for best game design, price for best video game universe, price for best characters, and especially the best video game award.
A deserved success, as the technical mastery of the Bordeaux people is undeniable, and so much has been attached to the fate of his young heroine and his little brother, fleeing the plague and the English in medieval Aquitaine.
But we are a little disappointed, obviously, for the other heavyweight of the past year, the Life is Strange 2 of Parisians from Dontnod. Again, a story of brothers launched on the roads, but that of Trump’s America this time. A current, touching game that tells us about those who, by choice or by fate, find themselves surviving on the margins of society – and which logically wins the price of narrative excellence.
More curious is the double victory of Dead cells. Not that it does not deserve praise: this Bordeaux game (decidedly) is great. Only, we would have expected to see it elsewhere than in the categories “mobile game” and “operating service”.
And in fact, there is a mobile version of Dead cells, eligible because it was released in 2019: rewarding it at all costs, even in two categories that do not suit it very well, it is undoubtedly a way for the Pegasus Academy to reward the formidable original game a little late , released in 2018.
The academy also rewarded A Fragile Step from Opal Games (best first game), Don’t look (best student game, by Cnam-Enjmin students) as well as a trilogy of foreign games, the great Outer Wilds and Sayonara Wild Hearts (best foreign independent game for the American, best foreign mobile game for the Swedish) and the most dispensable Ukrainian-Maltese game Metro Exodus (best foreign game).
Alt-Frequencies, the latest addition to the studio Accidental Queens, was awarded a “special prize from the academy (beyond video games)” with a slightly awkward formulation, but which we understand is intended to reward committed games.
A paradox to be resolved
Committed, the speech of Laurent Victorino was also. Awarded the prize for “best indie game” for Night call, who puts us in the shoes of a Parisian taxi driver, he praised his editor, the Swedish Raw Fury, “Who has the good taste to put the well-being of his developers before his own profit”, pointing out that “Some could take seed”. Above all, he dedicated his trophy to “All those who did not have the luxury of spending 240 euros”, compulsory entry ticket indeed to be able to submit a game to the Pegasus electoral colleges.
“Thank you to Raw Fury, who puts the wellbeing of its devs before its own profits; some could learn from that. I of … https://t.co/m4od80Mom2
Despite its indisputable successes, this is the paradox that will remain of this first edition of the Pegasus.
On the one hand, a ceremony which, because it intends to celebrate only French production, certainly relatively rich but necessarily more restricted than those of countries like the United States or Japan, can award half of its prices to a single title.
On the other, a selection method which, because it imposes an entry ticket that many developers cannot afford, prohibits a number of equally deserving productions from participating in the party. A paradox to which the next editions of these Pegasuses will undoubtedly have to provide a more satisfactory answer, to further consolidate its much coveted legitimacy.
Complete prize list
Best video game: In Plague Tale: Innocence (Asobo studio)
Best Indie Video Game: Night call (Monkeymoon)
Best mobile video game: Dead cells (Motion Twin)
Best first video game: A Fragile Step (Opal Games)
Best Student Video Game: Don’t look (Cnam-Enjmin)
Visual excellence: In Plague Tale: Innocence (Asobo studio)
Best sound universe: In Plague Tale: Innocence (Asobo studio)
Narrative excellence: Life is Strange 2 (DontNod Entertainment)
Best game design: In Plague Tale: Innocence (Asobo studio)
Best video game universe: In Plague Tale: Innocence (Asobo studio)
Best Character: In Plague Tale: Innocence (Asobo studio)
Best operating service: Dead cells (Motion Twin)
Best foreign video game: Metro Exodus (4A Games)
Best foreign indie game: Outer Wilds (Mobius Digital)
Best foreign mobile game: Sayonara Wild Hearts (Simogo)
Personality of the year: Jehanne Rousseau director of the Spiders studio.
Pegasus of honor: Yves Guillemot co-founder and CEO of Ubisoft.