Which types of games are eligible?

Any console, PC, handheld or mobile video game is included, provided that it is named the overall Game of the Year (GOTY) from an eligible media outlet.

  • (1) “Expansions”/DLC, whether standalone or add-ons, to otherwise eligible titles are included.
  • (2) “Remake” versions are included from 2019 onward.
  • (3) Votes awarded to non-remastered or non-remade “ports” (i.e. a game re-released on new platforms in largely the same state) will be counted toward the totals in the year of the title’s initial U.S. release date.
  • (4) To be eligible, the awarded title needs to have been released in the country of the media outlet. For media outlet critics, the title needs to have been released for review to critics before the publication of the award. For “readers’ choice” votes, the title needs to have been released to the public before voting begins.

Which media outlets are eligible? 

“Media outlets” include websites, magazines, newspapers, radio and TV broadcasts, podcasts, industry ceremonies, and online entertainment companies/content creators on streaming sites such as YouTube and Twitch.

  • Any media outlet operated by a single individual is not counted toward the total, for both the outlet’s and the readers’ choice votes.
    • Outlets without author names on their articles, or that appear to be predominantly operated by single individuals, will be similarly ineligible, even if they have multiple people on staff.
    • Articles must make it clear that the selection was a collaborative choice by the writing/editorial staff.
    • If they don’t make it clear enough but use pronouns such as “We” and avoid using “I”, then it will be counted just as long as it can be proven that the site/gaming portion has multiple active writers and its constantly active.
  • At least two staff members need to be part of the award selection process.
  • It must be made visibly clear by the outlet that the GOTY has been chosen by more than one staff member.
    • There are a lot of articles being published by single individual; they or the language must make it clear that their GOTY have been chosen by the staff through voting, discussions or a collaborative agreement. You can very easily tell is a GOTY has been chosen by an single individual if the site/gaming portion is mostly filled with articles written by the same individual.
  • Any outlet with ties of toxic behavior, discriminatory articles or considered as a bad influence to the gaming community are not counted.
  • Digital media outlets such as Podcast and Video Sharing Sites are not required to have their own website/domain name, but they must prove to have either well known members of the gaming industry, have a respectable amount of followers/subscribers and/or must have been active and producing content for at least a year.
    • If there is a well known/respected member(s) of the gaming industry, then the outlet will be counted just as long as they follow most of the requirements above.
  • Official forum votes, site polls, and “readers’/players’/fans’ choice” votes from eligible media outlets are counted toward the award totals provided that the results are officially announced on behalf of the outlet.
    • Unofficial forum polls from otherwise eligible outlets are not included.
  • User community sites (e.g. places such as Reddit, message boards, forums, user polling sites, etc.) are generally not included;
    • rare exceptions are made if the community has low potential for abuse, i.e. trolling, brigading and spamming the voting systems.
    • Due to increasing concerns about online abuse issues, user community sites that allow free-email or anonymous registration are not included from 2020 onward.
  • To avoid platform bias, votes from media outlets that are exclusively focused on a single platform or family of platforms (PlayStation, Xbox, PC, etc.) are not counted toward the total.
  • Outlets with an overly restrictive scope—focusing on a particular region, genre, or concept to the exclusion of most games—are not counted toward the total.
  • Student-operated newspapers are included provided that they are from a college or university with a regularly updated online presence, and they meet all of the other criteria.
    • Student-operated newspapers from high schools are not included. In practice, this only adds one to three awards per year.
  • Outlets posting awards and/or having an eligibility cutoff before November 1st for the current year will not be counted.
    • This is an effort to stop the forward time-creep that seems to be increasing every year. It’s an unfortunately standard part of the industry that the last few weeks of December are generally omitted from dozens of notable awards, but not including the last two or three months will no longer be allowed.
  • Some examples of excluded awards will be listed in a separate section at the bottom of the year’s award page, with a reason explaining why they are ineligible.
    • If you feel that the exclusion of any media outlet is unreasonable or that it follows the rules set provided above, please feel free to dispute it with the members of this thread.
  • Outlets posting awards after April 30th are no longer counted. They must be posted before the date in order to be counted.
    • The exception would be if the outlet/event is delayed for reasons beyond their control.

Which awards are eligible?

  • Only overall GOTY awards are eligible. Individual genre, platform and technical achievement awards do not count toward a title’s total GOTY awards.
    An outlet’s ‘overall GOTY’ is the single title to which they give their highest award of the year, except in the case of a tie/draw vote.
  • If a tie occurs, then all winners will be counted.
    The number of titles awarded needs to be fewer than the number of staff on the voting team. For example, an outlet with three voting staff members cannot simply name each of their separate, personal favorites as the three different winners and call that a draw; if those three staff members have two titles tie as the result of a points system however, those two titles would be eligible. A maximum of three titles will be accepted as a points-based draw.
  • If a media outlet has their staff members choose their own personal GOTYs. Then the title with the chosen majority will be considered that outlet’s overall GOTY winner.
  • “Best of the year” lists are counted as a media outlet’s overall GOTY if the top choice is clearly communicated, and the site does not have a separate, formal GOTY awards.
  • Inherently excluding any category of games from the GOTY awards, including indie titles, means that the main award is not actually an “overall” award, as it is not open to nominating games overall but only a certain subset of them.
    A site can separately recognize any categories that they wish (“best AAA games,” “best indies,” etc), and they do not need to nominate all types of games every year, but their highest award needs to at least, in principle, be open to games from all categories. If a site has strict rules, such as excluding DLCs and Remakes, they will be counted just as long as it within reason.
  • Retrospective awards are only accepted for years that the media outlet actually existed, produced regular content for more than half of the year, and did not originally give out an award for the year in question.
    • “Retrospective” refers to any awards not given during the original year or subsequent year of the award title (for example, giving an award for 2016 in 2018 or later.)