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.

  • (1) 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.
  • (2) Digital media outlets must have their own website/domain name, where they regularly produce content for the majority of the year. This means that outlets existing solely on social media such as Facebook or Instagram are ineligible, and that websites, podcasts and online entertainment companies/content creators need to have their own web domain. Any digital outlet will be ineligible for inclusion if they do not maintain a web domain for more than half of the year and/or do not regularly produce content. Award results from otherwise eligible media outlets may be announced on any platform, however, including social media.
  • (3) 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. 
  • (4) 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 these abuse issues, user community sites that allow free-email or anonymous registration are not included from 2020 onward.
  • (5) 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.
  • (6) Outlets with an overly restrictive scopefocusing on a particular region, genre, or concept to the exclusion of most gamesare not counted toward the total.
  • (7) Starting with the 2022 season, if a media outlet's award appears to have been posted by an individual (rather than multiple members of staff), it will not be counted. At least two staff members need to be part of the award selection process. (The rule for years prior to 2022 was: If a media outlet's award is posted by an individual [rather than the whole staff], it needs to be the only overall award the outlet posts for that year. If the outlet states that the award does not represent their overall view, or if the outlet has multiple, competing award lists from different individuals, they will not be counted.)
  • (8) 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.
  • (9) Starting with the 2022 season, outlets posting awards and/or having an eligibility cutoff before November 15th 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.
  • (10) Some examples of excluded awards will be listed in a separate section at the bottom of the year's award page from 2020 onward, with a reason explaining why they are ineligible.

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, 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.
  • "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 separate, formal GOTY awards.
  • If an outlet has separate awards for "indie" titles, those titles cannot be entirely and automatically excluded from the outlet's main GOTY awards category; 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.
  • 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.)
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