Annual Game Music Awards 2020 – Artists of the Year


We are pleased to present the winners in the ‘Artists of the Year’ category of the Annual Game Music Awards 2020. These panel-voted, officially-recognized awards provide a thorough and wide-reaching recognition of achievement in game music over the last year. The panelists have selected their choices by carefully considering the merit of the game music created this year — as art and entertainment, as part of in-game experiences and as part of stand-alone albums. Congratulations to all winners, runners-up, and nominees.

Outstanding Artist — Japanese Composer

Shotaro Shima/Yasunori Nishiki

Both Shotaro Shima and Yasunori Nishiki garnered our attention this year for their works. Shotaro Shima did a fantastic job as the main driving force revitalizating Nobuo Uematsu’s classic score to Final Fantasy VII in the remake, alongside other contributors, as well as providing his own original compositions to expand upon the Final Fantasy VII universe. Yasunori Nishiki, who also worked on Final Fantasy VII Remake, also brought thoughtful and memorable compositions to the Granblue Fantasy universe in Granblue Fantasy Versus and to a mobile sequel to Octopath Traveler with his work on Octopath Traveler: Champions of the Continent.




Other Nominations

Tenpei Sato
Shigeru Umebayashi

Outstanding Artist — Western Composer

Darren Korb/Gareth Coker

Darren Korb and Gareth Coker also managed to vie for our attention with their various works. Both Darren Korb and Gareth Coker brought the world of Greek mythology to life with their scores to Hades and Immortals Fenyx Rising, respectively. The former focused on a guitar driven score while the latter showcased an orchestral score, offering differing but equally fitting atmospheres to their respective works. In addition, Gareth Coker’s score to Ori and the Will of the Wisps brought more magic to the Ori universe.



Ilan Eshkeri

Other Nominations

Austin Wintory
Oliver Deriviere


Outstanding Artist — Independent Composer


Spiritfarer has garnered praise and critical acclaim since release, and the game has its soundtrack, in part, to thank for that. The score is lush and multifaceted, offering a variety of charming, contemplative and ethereal tracks to guide players through their oceanic journey. And we have Max LL to thank for that. His work in Spiritfarer will no doubt resonate with listeners on a deep emotional level, and we at VGMO are excited to hear where his musical journeys will take him next.



Darren Malley

Other Nominations

M.R. Miller
Chris Christodoulou
Daniel Deluxe

Outstanding Artist — Newcomer/Breakthrough

Yu-Peng Chen

Yu-Peng Chen’s work on Genshin Impact is colorful, whimsical, and fits the open world of the mobile/console title extremely well. Ranging from more orchestral focused tunes to more ensemble style pieces, the atmosphere conveyed captures the moment to moment with the score’s strong melodies, resulting in one of the more big budget mobile scores to date. 



Barry “Epoch” Topping

Other Nominations

Akihiro Manabe
Linus Tzelos
aivi & surasshu

Outstanding Artist — Soloist

Kristin Naigus/Darren Korb

Both Kristin Naigus and Darren Korb brought the music to Hades to life with their contributions to the soundtrack. Darren Korb’s guitar work served as the backbone for many pieces while Kristin Naigus’s woodwind work accentuated the tone of the pieces on which she is featured. In addition, Kristin Naigus’ contributions to many other acclaimed scores, such as The Pathless, Immortals Fenyx Rising, and ikenfell, helped to bring their worlds to life as well. Of particular note was Kristin’s work on Ori and the Will of the Wisps, where she both recorded as part of a recorded tune as well as a library of various woodwind flourishes that could be used throughout the score. 


Einar Selvik

Other Nominations

Emi Evans
Michaela Nachtigall


Outstanding Contribution — Ensemble

Shanghai Symphony Orchestra

The Shanghai Symphony Orchestra’s performances for the Genshin Impact soundtrack helped bring Yu-Peng Chen’s musical vision to life. From full orchestra to smaller ensembles, the heart of the music is easily captured and prominently displayed for everyone playing the game. 



The Alash Ensemble

Other Nominations

London Metropolitan Orchestra
Macedonian Symphonic Orchestra
Stella Magna

Posted on February 18, 2021 by Don Kotowski. Last modified on February 19, 2021.

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About the Author

Currently residing in Philadelphia. I spend my days working in vaccine characterization and dedicate some of my spare time in the evening to the vast world of video game music, both reviewing soundtracks as well as maintaining relationships with composers overseas in Europe and in Japan.

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