Submission and Selection Process

Why do you charge a fee for submissions? What am I paying for?

IndieCade is an independent organization. All fees are applied directly to the development of our submission and jurying software, hardware, server fees, maintenance, and processing costs. In return, we provide the following to IndieCade submission applicants:

  1. Consideration as a Finalist to the IndieCade Festival, IndieCade's E3 Showcase, and/or IndieCade Europe.
  2. (US) A minimum of two passes for admission to IndieXchange (IXC), our pre-Festival developer summit. IXC attendees will have the opportunity to sign up for workshops, network, show-and-tell, and meet one-on-one with major industry leaders and platforms.
  3. (US) Opportunity to showcase your game at the GameTasting (show-and-tell). This is on a first-come first-serve basis.

Note: *Additional admission to the IndieXchange can be provided pending team size and availability.

Do we still get written feedback for our submissions?

Due to the large increase in volume of submissions over the past years, we can no longer accommodate written feedback for all submissions at the quality level we feel is ideal. We are now providing feedback via our membership program. For more information see our MEMBERSHIP PAGE.

Where does my money go?

IndieCade is an independent organization and we rely on submission processing fees to support the following:

  1. Software development of the jury system: Our jury system has been painstakingly and iteratively developed over the past ten years to create the best possible experience for developers and jurors, and to accommodate the widest range of innovative submissions. The bulk of our fees go directly to the software development team responsible for creating this system.
  2. Server costs: Direct fees associated with maintaining secure servers.
  3. Submission processing fees: Direct fees charged by our payment system, as well as occasional fees for expanding our resources to ensure all submitted games receive a fair review.
  4. Staff and special handling: A small portion of our submission fees assist in handling of incoming physical or special-format entries. For instance, in 2015 we received over 250 board game and special circumstances submissions. Each one of these must be physically logged and tracked at our offices by staff members and volunteers

Do you have financial assistance for the submission fee?

Yes, you may apply to our needs-based financial assistance program HERE. Staff will review your application and may decide to grant a coupon which you can input on the last page of the submission form and will discount the submission fee. Discounts vary based off of individual circumstances. If you have applied to the financial assistance program, we recommend that you finish filling out your submission but wait to hear back on your financial assistance before paying and officially completing your submission.

May I submit anonymously?

Yes, you may submit anonymously. While IndieCade staff will still need to collect your name and contact information in order to update you on your submission, this information will not be released to the public should you be selected to showcase. You may state your desire to remain anonymous in the Credits section of the submission form.

The submission form states that team members will be put on a mailing list unless they select the opt-out option in the form. What is this mailing list used for?

The mailing list is used only by IndieCade staff in order to update you on your submission as well as send a monthly newsletter to you. We do not give this mailing list out to any other organizations, companies, or individuals. Until you are notified of your festival decision we ask that you do not unsubscribe from this list as it is our primary way of contacting entrants.

May I update my application once submitted?

No, you cannot edit your application form once it has been submitted. There is some leniency if your form has broken download links or expired coupon codes, and IndieCade staff will contact you if your entry has such. Additionally, should you be selected to showcase at any of our events, you are more than welcome to bring an updated build and provide new materials for media (screenshots, videos, copy, etc.).

If you are concerned about a bug in your submission or have made a major technical advance that may assist in the jurying of your game you may email for consideration for updating your build, but there are no guarantees of accommodation of said build due to the fast nature of the jurying process.

My entry is marked as “Waiting Receipt” - what does that mean?

If an entry has a special format or requires special handling - such as event-based, installation, tabletop, or custom hardware games - its application will be automatically marked as “Waiting Receipt.” This is standard for all special-format submissions. Once we have confirmed access to a playable build of your entry (e.g. your entry is received at our office, at an event attended by jurors, etc.), your application will be marked as “Submitted” and authorized for jurying.

Please note that as long as you have completed the online submission form and paid for your submission by the deadline, we have received your entry and you have made it in time for the deadline. You may receive an email from staff after the deadline to clarify how to gain access to and review your entry.

Who reviews the IndieCade submissions?

IndieCade has a rigorous jury process based on standard academic review practices. Multiple rounds of review occur, engaging both the JURY COMMITTEE and the general JUROR pool. It is key that the DOCUMENTATION in your submission is as thorough as you can make it, as this will be what is reviewed by the first round of the jury process.

We guarantee that every game is reviewed by a jury committee member in the first round, as well as being assigned to the general juror pool for play. Some entries then go on to be further assigned to a review/ super juror who provides an additional review for that submission.

Who Are the Jurors?

Overall IndieCade has a pool of over 400 industry volunteers representing a wide range of expertise within and outside of games. Additional jurors are added as needed to give each entry a fair assessment. IndieCade jurors include past IndieCade Finalists, professional developers from both indie and mainstream game industries, fine artists, researchers and academics, curators, journalists, game writers, and students with an established game development and/or interactive media history.

Based on detailed profiles, submissions are assigned to jurors who have the best possible qualifications and technological infrastructure to review each entry. For instance, if your entry is an art game or a fighting game, we will assign it to jurors with expertise in those area. We also work to avoid assigning entries to jurors with a potential conflict of interest; however, jurors also share the responsibility of recusing themselves from reviewing entries for which such a conflict exists.

What is the Jury Committee?

The jury committee is a hand-selected group of IndieCade jurors with extensive experience both in games and at IndieCade, representing a diverse set of outlooks.

What intellectual property rules pertain to IndieCade events?

IndieCade does not claim any ownership of your submission or any of its associated assets or intellectual property. Should you be chosen to showcase at any of our events, IndieCade does retain the right to use your submitted screenshots / photos and / or photos of your work taken by our photographers at our events in our promotional materials as we see fit. IndieCade also reserves the right to use these materials for future archival or retrospective purposes.

Entrants warrant that any IP submitted for IndieCade is solely owned by the developers and that any licensed content has been legally obtained. IndieCade reserves the right to deem ineligible any submission that violates the intellectual property rights of others

Will I receive confirmation of my entry?

Applicants will receive confirmation within one week of receipt of submission. Finalists and rejections will be notified at a later date.

Will my entry materials be returned?

We can only return entry materials if you supply self-addressed, pre-paid postage and an appropriate box, envelope, or other necessary shipping package. Please also include shipping materials for padding if needed (i.e. bubble wrap and/or foam pellets), and a note requesting that your materials be returned.

If my entry is chosen as a Finalist, can I show a different version of the entry than was submitted?

Yes, if you are selected as a Finalist, you will have the opportunity to show the newest and the best version of your work at the IndieCade event you are selected for.

Do you provide financial assistance for travel costs?

We hope to provide assistance, however can only do so for a limited number of developers. Assistance depends upon annual partners to support this initiative. 

Nominated and Gaming for Everyone selected developers will be eligible to apply for whatever assistance may be available. Priority for this fund is given to developers in need of assistance and is based on a variety of factors including financial need.

Can I enter more than one project?

Absolutely! You may enter as many as you like. However, each work requires its own submission information in order to be juried as its own game. (Note: you will need to pay separately for each entry you submit.)

If you have a series of short games, you may submit those as one entry, but realize they will also be reviewed as a single entry.

Must I have a working version of my (digital) project in order to submit?

Yes. You must provide access to a working version of your submission in order to avoid disqualification. Any submission, even if paid, which does not include access to a working version of the game, will be disqualified. Event-based entries can be played by asking jurors to attend an event where the entry is already being shown, or by asking jurors to attend a special developer-run jurying session. (Please note that event-based entries are sometimes ONLY reviewed off of their documentation if we are unable to find suitable jurors in the area.)

Board games and other physical special-format entries must be physically mailed or delivered to avoid disqualification. IndieCade staff will contact you after you have submitted your online application form with a mailing address and postmark deadline.

Note: Refunds are not provided for entries which are disqualified.

What are grounds for disqualification?

A game may be disqualified if:

  1. The entry does not meet the eligibility requirements listed HERE.
  2. For digital games: Jurors are unable to access a working version of the game. If our reviewers cannot play your submission for technical reasons, they will contact the person listed under the technical support contact. If we do not receive a response within 48 hours of a plan on how to get your submission reviewed, it risks disqualification. This is why it’s extremely important to include a reachable technical contact with your submission and to respond in a prompt fashion to inquiries from
  3. For board games: If developers do not deliver a physical copy of the game to our offices by the postmark deadline. The postmark deadline may or may not be the same as the submission deadline and will be given to you in a follow up email to you by IndieCade staff after you submit your online application. This follow up email will contain an address to send your submission to as well as the postmark deadline. It may be sent after a submission deadline.

Please note, although we cannot guarantee that a submission is played in the first round of jurying, it is often true that the juror will do their utmost to play the game as well as review documentation and so access to this is important. It is almost always true that jurors play the submissions in subsequent rounds of review.

Please also note that we do not refund fees for games that are disqualified.

What will you do with Finalist submissions after the evaluation period is over?

We will post materials, photos, etc. related to all Finalists on our website for ongoing public exposure and inspiration. We are happy to host links to your entry’s website, sale pages, Kickstarters, etc.

Will I be notified of Finalist acceptance status before the accepted games are publicly announced?

If you are a Finalist at IndieCade Festival or IndieCade Europe (or are selected for E3), you will be contacted before the official announcement so you can begin to make plans to attend the event. If your entry is accepted, we will also send you official IndieCade acceptance seals before the announcements are made so you can have them ready to post on your website and other materials upon public announcement.

For all events other events, announcement times vary and developers will be notified at time of invitation.

What if I do not want my project or information about my project announced?

If your entry is selected as a Finalist and you have an embargo or any other information about your entry that you want withheld we can accommodate your requests. No information is released without your knowledge.

If a submission is entered under a team name and we win an IndieCade Award, how is it distributed?

The award will be given to the designated team/company/organization OR an individual from the team specified in the team’s application.

Do you have prizes?

Each IndieCade Award-winning game receives a handmade, one-of-a-kind trophy specifically designed for each awardee. IndieCade does not provide traditional prizes or cash for award winners. That said, accepted Finalists do receive a number of added benefits, including two VIP Passes to the event in which they are exhibiting, access to private IndieCade social events, features and promotions across our website and social media, passes to our IndieXchange pre-Festival developer summit, use of a display booth at the selected event, and inclusion in all press releases, publicity work, and more. Additionally IndieCade provides an in-house publicist and premiere opportunities for all of our events.

I've already submitted my project for IndieCade Festival 2020. Do I need to re-submit to be eligible for IndieCade Europe or other events?

No, there is only one submission form for all events. HOWEVER, applicants must select in the submission form which specific event they are applying to (IndieCade Festival in Los Angeles, CA, United States, IndieCade Europe in Paris, France, and/or IndieCade Showcase @ E3).

If you mark that you only want to be considered for one event, you will only pay the submission fee associated with that event. If you mark that you’d like to be considered for multiple, you must pay the associated combination submission fees.

Acceptance in the IndieCade Showcase @ E3 does not impact selection for IndieCade Festival or IndieCade Europe.

If my entry is not selected for IndieCade Showcase @ E3, will it not be accepted to IndieCade Festival either?

Selection, or lack thereof, in IndieCade Showcase @ E3 does not affect your likelihood of selection for IndieCade Festival.

Can I submit my project to IndieCade Showcase @ E3?

Yes, for 2020 you can submit specifically to the E3 Showcase during our early submissions window (Jan 15 - Feb 15).

Can I submit my project to IndieCade Europe only and not to IndieCade Festival?

Yes, the same submission form is used for both IndieCade Europe and IndieCade Festival. In the form, you can select which event(s) you’d like to be considered for. Submission fees are separate for IndieCade Europe and IndieCade Festival. If you mark that you only want to be considered for IndieCade Europe (or IndieCade Festival), you will only pay the submission fee associated with that event. If you mark that you’d like to be considered for both, you must pay the associated combination submission fees.

Can I submit my project to IndieCade East?

No. IndieCade East does not take game submissions. Games shown at East are hand-curated selections of entries featured at past IndieCade events. Finalists of IndieCade Festival are often considered for these curations. IndieCade East is not a guaranteed annual event and is not scheduled for 2020.

What should I do if my entry requires a complex technical setup, or multiple players?

Because IndieCade is all about innovation, the IndieCade jury system is designed to accommodate a wide range of genres, platforms, and contexts. Each juror fills out a detailed profile which includes technology to which they have access, proficiencies, as well as events they have attended or will attend in the future. We then work to assign your entry to jurors who have both the qualifications and the technology to review your game. Additionally, we have special jurying sessions for multiplayer and special format entries. If your entry has special format considerations, such as a live installation-based game, we may contact you and ask you to give a demo presentation to jurors.

In any case, we ask that you please respond quickly to inquiries from our jury team and make sure your spam folders are cleared for such inquiries. The most common cause for disqualification is failure to respond to requests to make a working version of your entry available to jurors. We need your help in order to avoid disqualification since it is our goal to play your entry. Please note that in some cases, such as event-based or installation works, your entry may be reviewed ONLY on the documentation in your submission form if we cannot find suitable jurors in the area.

What if my submission is a tabletop or other non-digital game?

We are very accustomed to tabletop games (and all kinds of games with unique physical materials). For the initial process of the submission you simply need to fill out the form and it will ask for a lot of documentation. If you need to mail the game our Games Manager will reach out to you to coordinate that delivery. In the meantime we do not need to have that in our hands for your submission to be complete.

We also understand that games with physical materials can be difficult or expensive to send to us, particularly if they are prototypes. In such cases your entry may be reviewed ONLY on the DOCUMENTATION in your submission form if needed.

What if my submission is installation, location, or event based?

Our evaluation system has a feature that allows you to include events and venues where your submission has been or will be shown. This will enable us to match your entry with jurors who have attended, or will attend, these events or venues and have played it in its full form. We may also ask you to stage a session of your entry, bring your entry to one of our special jurying sessions, or provide instructions and/or materials for jurors to run a session themselves.

Please note that in some cases, such as event-based or installation works, your entry may be reviewed ONLY on the DOCUMENTATION in your submission form if we cannot find suitable jurors in the area.

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