Submit Your Game - How?

2016 IGF Main Competition

Who Is Eligible: Open to all independent game developers worldwide (see specific rules).
Competing For: Over $50,000 in prizes, in various categories, including the $30,000 Seumas McNally Grand Prize.
Entry Fee: $75 (regular), $25 (student) - see Student Requirements
Submissions Due: October 26, 2015, submit here

The main 2016 IGF Competition, for which the entry deadline is October 26, 2015 at 11:59 pm PDT, will give out eight major awards:

Seumas McNally Grand Prize ($30,000)
Excellence in Visual Art ($3,000)
Excellence in Audio ($3,000)
Excellence in Design ($3,000)
Excellence in Narrative ($3,000)
Nuovo Award ($5,000)
Best Student Game ($3,000)
Audience Award ($3,000)

There will be six specifically named finalists for each award, apart from the eight finalists for the Nuovo Award. Finalists will be named in January 2016. All finalists will be given free show passes and will be invited to the IGF award ceremony at GDC 2016, showcasing their games on the IGF Pavilion at the show.

The IGF Audience Award will be voted via public Web-based poll from the finalists in all categories.

The IGF competition has a diverse set of judges which includes representatives from the mainstream game industry, notable previous IGF winners and finalists, other independent game developers, and indie-friendly game journalists.

The main 250-300 jury members recommend titles for individually named IGF juries for each prize, made up of context and discipline experts.

Key IGF Dates

Here are specific submission deadlines for the 2016 event:

July 31, 2015 Submissions are Open
October 26, 2015 Submission Deadline
Early January, 2016 Finalists Announced
March 14 - March 18, 2016 Game Developers Conference 2016
March 14 - March 15, 2016 Indie Games Summit @ GDC
March 16 - March 18, 2016 IGF Pavilion @ GDC
March 16, 2016 IGF Awards Ceremony (Winners Announced!)

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: I live outside the United States. May I enter the IGF Competition?

A: Yes.

Q: We are working on more than one game. Can more than one game be entered in the IGF Competition?

A: Yes.

Q: If I'm invited to appear at the IGF Competition during GDC, do I have to bring my own computer or console/handheld too?

A: Yes. The Festival management will provide monitors, keyboards, a mouse and speakers for all finalists, as well as supply additional Internet connections for those games that require one. You will, however, need to bring your own PC, console, or other device.

Q: My game is complicated. How can I make sure that judges understand and play it correctly?

A: One excellent way to do this is via video. We allow you to attach a video link (public on YouTube) to your submission. But you are also welcome to link private tutorial videos in your submission or even upload them alongside your submission. Also feel free to link to other background information.

Q: Can I submit a game that's already been released? Can I submit an unfinished game demo?

A: The IGF does accept games that have already been released to the public, either by directly uploading a build of the game, or providing us with download codes for various services (Steam, App Store, etc). You may also submit an early/demo version of the game, but please note that the rules stipulate that it must be "substantially feature-complete", and that your game will be in competition with games nearly- or already-available. If you're unsure whether your game is "substantially feature-complete enough" by the deadline, you may wish to wait until the following year's festival!

Q: Can I update my game after entering the competition?

A: You can upload new builds of your game at any time. Please note that after the competition deadline, judges may look at your game at any time. You can continue giving us new versions, but we only absolutely guarantee that judges will see the version of your game uploaded at deadline time.

Q: What systems must a game run on?

A: The IGF Competition officially supports any platform - PC, console, web, mobile, etc. Many of our judges also have access to console development kits - please specify what is needed in your submission. We cannot guarantee that judges will have access to any special hardware required to play your game.

Q: It's been X days since the deadline for submissions has passed. Is it too late to enter our game into the festival?

A: If you don't make the cutoff date, we can't accept your game. Sorry -- it's in the interest of fairness to all the other entries, who had to cut their development cycle short to get their games in on time. You can always enter the competition next year!

Q: How do I distribute an iOS game to you if it's not already on the App Store?

A: Our backend allows iOS developers to upload pre-release ("ad-hoc") builds of their games and submit them to the IGF just like builds for any other platform. These will be automatically provisioned for all the devices our judges and jurors have added when they are admitted into the backend, so all of our judges are free to play any iOS game, even ones they have not been randomly assigned. Check Google or Apple's documentation for information on creating ad-hoc builds, and our instructions provided when submitting your game.

Q: Will I receive feedback on my game?

A: Developer feedback has always been an optional part of the judging process and in general, having the game played in detail by multiple judges takes precedence over providing written feedback. While the feedback is well intentioned, without having a clear structure it is often inconsistent or on par with what a normal user playtest would provide.

So we’ll be removing written judge feedback - at least for this year - to concentrate on further optimizing the judging process, getting people playing as many games as possible and formalizing the feedback system.

The Competition fee to enter the IGF is reduced from $95 to $75 starting this year, and reflects the change in providing developer feedback.

Q: How does the IGF judging and jurying process operate?

A: Each year, we invite hundreds of game developers both big and small, educators, critics and press to be the initial IGF 'large' judging pool. (Think of the judges as an Oscars-style cross-section of the game community.) If any individual was directly involved in the creation of any game entered in the festival that year, they recuse themselves from judging the festival. (Note: any interested party that works in the games industry can request an invitation to be a judge. If you are selected, you'll receive an email from us when our judging process has begun.)

All submitted games are assigned to a random set of judges from our 'large' judging pool. This body of judges typically consists of 250-300 participants, and assignments are made based on the game platforms the judge owns. Judges are given roughly 4-6 weeks to play and recommend any game they believe should be a finalist in any category.

Over time, games are randomly assigned to even more judges, to ensure a breadth of opinion. Judges are able to communicate with one another to recommend games, schedule multiplayer sessions, and raise any technical issues directly with a game's developer. They also use this opportunity to debate the positives and negatives of specific titles. After judges are finished recommending the games they have been assigned, they are free to explore the rest of the entered games, and vote for any additional game they believe deserves a recommendation.

At the end of this 'large' judging period, we then enter a jurying phase. There is a different jury for each award, made up of subject matter experts - except the Audience Award, which has public votes. The juries are given access to the total number of recommendations each game received for their particular category by our first-round judges. They also receive another metric that they look at: a percentage that represents how many recommendations each game got from its assigned judges. This helps to bring less well-known titles to light and guards against judges simply 'swarming' games they might have already heard of.

Each jury, made up of 7-15 members, takes another 4-6 weeks to play and discuss the games in private. At the end of this discussion, each individual juror puts forward their list of nominations for the specific award they are judging - as many or as few as they like (often called 'approval voting').

These nominations may include the games that received many recommendations from the judges, but often includes games entered into the festival with fewer recommendations as well. (Think of the juries as film festival panels, such as the Cannes Palme D'Or). The jury nominations are then tallied, and the games which received the most nominations are then decided as the finalists and honorable mentions.

Once these finalists have been announced, each individual IGF jury takes an additional few weeks to discuss those finalists, and casts a second vote for the games they believe should be the winner in each category. Those votes are again tallied by hand, and the game that received the most votes is declared the winner at the IGF Awards during GDC.

If you have further questions, please contact the IGF Chairperson at chairperson(at)