The Independent Games Festival is broken and needs to be fixed. To my knowledge it is the only respected award of any industry that is given to something that is not only unfinished but may be unfinished for years. That is absurd and the submission requirements should change.
Before moving on I want to issue a preemptive apology. I mention several awesome games by name and I’m sorry. I have a huge amount of respect for all the devs involved and it is not my intent to offend in any way. :(
An Argument For
I’ve had this discussion with friends in the past and have heard a good argument. What makes the IGF different is that it’s about indie games. The publicity from a nomination can lead to hard to obtain platform contracts and publishing deals that would not otherwise be acquired. For devs living off ramen it may be the difference in the game being completed or being shelved while they get a day job. It’s an emotionally compelling stance.
Another Argument Against
But I don’t buy it. For each unreleased game that wins awards how many deserving and released games are passed by? How many devs release a great game that doesn’t get noticed forcing them to hang up their dream and go corporate?
Trainyard is the counter-example. It’s an iphone puzzle game that went entirely unnoticed for 4 months before hitting a blog and soon thereafter exploding with popularity. It’s a fantastic story everyone should read if they haven’t already. It looks super awesome and I want to give my money to the dev for it. The IGF trailer is curiously not on iOS so I wonder if target platform changed. I wonder if that’s due to it’s warm IGF reception in any way?