Geoff Keighley, organizer and host of The Game Awards, says he turned down an offer to host The Game Awards in a “Doritos Pope” outfit in exchange for sponsorship money from Frito Lay.
On the latest episode of Kotaku’s Splitscreen podcast, Keighley brought up the request as part of a discussion on the finances of the awards show and the tenuous balance of integrated marketing.
“This year Doritos called up and asked would I willing to wear the Doritos Pope outfit to host the entire show,” Keighley said. “And they offered us a bunch of money, and I’m just sort of like, ‘No, we’re not going to do that. I don’t want to make a mockery of this show. This is to celebrate game developers. It’s not about you. It’s about celebrating the art and craft.”
For the unreligious among you, the Doritos Pope meme emerged in the wake of a now infamous video of Keighley produced for LevelSave.com, in which he was flanked by promotional materials for Mountain Dew and Doritos. The image quickly spread as a symbol of Keighley’s perceived eagerness to sell out to any and all corporate overlords, with this narrative amplified by a scathing writeup at Eurogamer.
Still, Keighley went out of his way in the Splitscreen interview to say he’s not upset about the incident, noting that he’s not afraid to poke fun at it, but didn’t feel that The Game Awards was the proper venue for bringing it up. He also made an effort to defend and recontextualize it. “Not to belabor the point, but part of the reason I did those things even back in the day, was because it lessened the reliance on the game publishers.… People will make fun of those partnerships, but it’s like, well, actually—and you know this from a journalism perspective—it’s safer to take money from Doritos than it is from Xbox to do things because you’re more independent. But the perception amongst consumers, there’s such pushback when non-endemic brands are involved in things. It’s really difficult. So that’s what I’ve always been struggling with over time.”
Who knows how history will ultimately judge the Keighley papacy, but it seems this year’s Game Awards won’t be contributing to that legacy.
The Game Awards airs December 7th on Twitch, YouTube, Twitter, Mixer, Facebook Live, Steam, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, IGN, and GameStop. Basically, if you turn on your computer or phone, odds are good The Game Awards will already be on the screen streaming. The festivities kick off at 5:30 p.m. PT.
For the full discussion with Keighley, which includes some exciting teases for the reveals we’ll see at this year’s Game Awards, as well as some fascinating insights into how everything comes together behind the scenes, be sure to check out the full interview on Kotaku Splitscreen.