About the Develop:Star Awards 2021

 

Bringing together the game dev community to celebrate the very best games and talent.

Taking place on the evening of Wednesday 27 October during Develop:Brighton, the Develop:Star Awards 2021 will recognise the very best games and talent within the industry with categories that enable studios of every size to shine.

These awards are all about the game dev community celebrating the creative excellence of the game makers behind the best games of the previous 12 months.

The nominees for the Develop:Star Awards 2021 are:

Best Visual Art

  • Before I Forget - 3-Fold Games
  • Little Orpheus - The Chinese Room, Sumo Digital
  • Mundaun - Hidden Fields, MWM Interactive
  • Returnal – Housemarque, Sony Interactive Entertainment
  • South of the Circle - State of Play
  • The Last Campfire - Hello Games

Best Narrative

  • Little Orpheus - The Chinese Room, Sumo Digital
  • Orwell's Animal Farm - Nerial, The Dairymen
  • Returnal – Housemarque, Sony Interactive Entertainment
  • Röki - Polygon Treehouse, United Label
  • South of the Circle - State of Play
  • The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope - Supermassive Games, Bandai Namco

Best Game Design    

  • Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout – Mediatonic, Epic Games
  • Lost Words: Beyond the Page - Sketchbook Games, Modus Games
  • Magic: The Gathering Arena (Mobile) - Wizards of the Coast
  • Returnal - Housemarque, Sony Interactive Entertainment
  • Sackboy: A Big Adventure - Sumo Sheffield, Sony Interactive Entertainment
  • Weaving Tides - Follow the Feathers, Crytivo

Best Audio    

  • A Total War Saga: Troy - Creative Assembly, SEGA
  • DIRT 5 - Codemasters
  • Little Orpheus - The Chinese Room, Sumo Digital
  • Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales - Insomniac Games, Sony Interactive Entertainment
  • Returnal - Housemarque, Sony Interactive Entertainment
  • Sackboy: A Big Adventure - Sumo Sheffield, Sony Interactive Entertainment

Best Original IP    

  • Alba: A Wildlife Adventure-  ustwo games
  • Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout - Mediatonic, Epic Games
  • Little Orpheus - The Chinese Room, Sumo Digital
  • PowerWash Simulator – Futurlab, Square Enix
  • Returnal – Housemarque, Sony Interactive Entertainment
  • Rogue Company - First Watch, Hi-Rez Studios

Best Innovation    

  • Before I Forget - 3-Fold Games
  • Hardspace: Shipbreaker - Blackbird Interactive, Focus Home Interactive
  • Lost Words: Beyond the Page - Sketchbook Games, Modus Games
  • South of the Circle - State of Play
  • The Oeuvre - 89o
  • Watch Dogs: Legion - Ubisoft

Diversity Star    

  • Anisa Sanusi - Limit Break
  • Cinzia Musio - Splash Damage
  • Dan Bernado - Playtra
  • Rebecca Sampson - Hangar 13
  • Robin Gray - Gayming Mag
  • Tentacle Zone Incubator - Payload Studios

Best QA & Localisation   

  • Keywords Studios 
  • Localsoft 
  • Player Research 
  • PTW 
  • Testronic 
  • Universally Speaking 

Best Creative Provider    

  • Atomhawk 
  • Keywords Studios 
  • Liquid Crimson 
  • Pitstop Productions 
  • PlayStation Studios Creative Arts 
  • SIDE UK 

Best Technology Provider   

  • GameMaker Studio 2 
  • Genba Digital 
  • Keywords Studio 
  • Unity 
  • Unreal Engine 
  • Utopia Analytics   

Tomorrow’s Star     

  • Dominic Shaw - Ukie
  • Joshua Brown - Futurlab
  • Julia Kenny - SEGA
  • Julian Mair-MacFarlane - Mediatonic
  • Melissa Chaplin - Robot Teddy
  • Reema Ishaque - Splash Damage

Recruitment Star    

  • Aardvark Swift 
  • Amiqus Recruitment 
  • Datascope Recruitment 
  • OPMjobs 
  • Skillsearch Limited 
  • Sumo Group 

Publishing Star   

  • Curve Digital 
  • Kwalee 
  • No More Robots 
  • Team17 
  • Wales Interactive 
  • Wired Productions 

Best Mobile Game    

  • A Monster's Expedition - Draknek & Friends
  • Alba: A Wildlife Adventure - ustwo games
  • Little Orpheus - The Chinese Room. Sumo Digital
  • Magic: The Gathering Arena (Mobile) - Wizards of the Coast
  • Orwell's Animal Farm - Nerial, The Dairymen
  • South of the Circle - State of Play

Game of the Year    

  • Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout – Mediatonic, Epic Games
  • Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales - Insomniac Games, Sony Interactive Entertainment
  • Returnal – Housemarque, Sony Interactive Entertainment
  • Sackboy: A Big Adventure - Sumo Sheffield, Sony Interactive Entertainment
  • The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope - Supermassive Games, Bandai Namco
  • The Last Campfire - Hello Games

Best Micro Studio   

  • Denki 
  • Hidden Fields 
  • inkle 
  • Perchang 
  • Polygon Treehouse 

Best Studio    

  • Creative Assembly 
  • FuturLab 
  • Housemarque 
  • Mediatonic 
  • nDreams 
  • Sumo Digital 
  • ustwo games   

The winners will be selected by industry vote, open to anyone who has attended Develop:Brighton since 2017 or who’s registered for a 2021 conference pass. If that’s you, then you will receive an email from us with a direct link to the voting form. Winners will be announced during the Develop:Star Awards ceremony on the evening of 27 October. 

Buy Tickets

Stars Schedule

  • 2 July - entry deadline
  • 12 July to 14 August judging for the shortlist
  • 1 September - shortlist announced and online voting for the winners opens
  • 24 September - voting closes
  • 27 October - winners announced at the awards ceremony

How to Enter

How it works

  • The qualifying period for entries is from 1 June 2020 –  31 May 2021.  
  • Entry to the Develop:Star Awards is open to any companies working in the game dev industry with teams based in the UK, or Europe if they have a strong connection to the UK (e.g. a UK-based publisher or strong UK sales). 
  • You can enter yourself or your own organisation, or you can nominate a third party.
  • Entries must be submitted via our online entry form. Any entries submitted via any other medium will not be considered.
  • When reviewing entries for the shortlist, judges will only use the information provided by you on the submission form within the deadline period.
  • To give yourself or whoever you are nominating the best possible chance, please follow our criteria instructions on the form carefully and provide your information exactly as requested – this will help provide the judges with entries of a consistent standard and make it a fairer judging process.
  • Entry for the Develop:Star Awards closes on Friday 2 July 2021.

Shortlist selection

  • All entries will be evaluated by panels of games industry professionals appointed by the Develop: Star Awards team. The judging panel for each awards category will review entries and select a shortlist of 5 finalists for that award.
  • The shortlisted entries will be announced on 8 September 2021.

Selection of the winners

  • The Develop:Star Awards are all about game devs recognising the achievements of other game devs. So winners will be independently selected by the game dev community – anyone who has attended Develop:Brighton in the last three years or had registered for this year’s event will be able to vote online for their favourite finalists.
  • Voting will take place from 8 to 24 September 2021.
  • Winners will be announced at the Develop:Star Awards ceremony on the 27 October 2021.

View the Develop:Star Awards terms and conditions here

 

Top Tips Before You Start Your Entry

Have a Clear Objective

  • Tell us why you or your nominee deserves to win. Be clear with your message - what sets the nominee apart from the other entrants?

Be Different

  • Judges and voters want to see nominees that stand out from the crowd, so make your entry engaging and inspirational - show us how excited you are about your entry.

Forward Planning

  • Draft an outline plan of what you want to get across before you start writing and talk to other team members to get their input.

Create a Story

  • Judges and voters like a clear narrative. Think about the 5 W’s – Who, What, Why, Where and When.

Answer the Questions Succinctly

  • Try not to waffle – think about what is being asked and answer thoroughly but concisely.

Put Yourself in the Judges Shoes

  • The judges will be reading lots of entries while whittling the nominees down to our final shortlist – make it an easy and enjoyable read and back up any claims with real-life examples and facts and figures where appropriate.

Supporting Materials

  • Only use evidence that really backs-up what you’re saying. Videos are a great way to show off a project and if you’re entering a game category then share game codes so the judges can play your game - if they haven’t already!

Award Categories

The awards are split into 18 different categories, focusing on the achievements of development teams and the success of great games over the previous 12 months. Within the 18 categories, one ultimate ‘Develop Star’ will be awarded to honour an extraordinary game developer for outstanding achievement and contribution to the industry.

Best Visual Art

Recognising a game which demonstrates exceptional achievement in visual art and/or animation, across any genre.

Entry Requirements:
Tell us why this game deserves the Best Visual Art award and what is extraordinary about the team’s work. Give examples from the nominated game and how the team’s work supported the overall goals of the game. What makes the visual art in this game stand out?

Judges will look for innovation, creativity and technical achievement.

Best Narrative

Rewarding a team who have far exceeded expectation in their storytelling to create an outstanding player experience – through innovative or ground-breaking writing.

Entry Requirements:
Tell us why this game deserves the Best Narrative award and what is extraordinary about the team’s work. Give examples from the nominated game and how the team’s work supported the overall goals of the game. What makes this narrative stand out?

Judges will look for innovation, creativity and technical achievement in dialogue and narrative design.

Best Game Design

This award recognises a team responsible for exceptional and creative game design via the use of controls, level design, pacing and mechanics.

Entry Requirements:
Tell us why this game deserves the Best Game Design award and what is extraordinary about the team’s work. Give examples from the nominated game and how the team’s work supported the overall goals of the game. What makes this game design stand out?

Judges will look for innovation, creativity and technical achievement.

Best Audio

Rewarding a game that demonstrates distinction in the use of sound or music to improve player experience.

Entry Requirements:
Tell us why this game deserves the Best Audio award and what is extraordinary about it. Give examples from the nominated game and how the team’s work supported the overall goals of the game. What makes the audio in this game stand out?

Judges will look for innovation, creativity and technical achievement.

Best Original IP

This award will recognise the creation of the best new intellectual property.

Entry Requirements:
Tell us why your nominated game deserves the Best Original IP award and what is extraordinary about it. Give examples from the game, its inspirations and what the goals were. What makes this original IP stand out?

Judges will look for innovation, creativity and technical achievement.

Best Innovation

The award which recognises any game, studio or organisation that has created something ground-breaking within the games industry. This could be a technical advance, a pioneering gameplay experience or anything showing true innovation.

Entry Requirements:
Tell us why this team deserves the Best Innovation in Game Development award and what’s extraordinary about their work. Explain how they came up with the new idea, what makes it so ground-breaking and why it has been such a success. What makes this project and the achievements of the team stand out?

Judges will look for a real departure from anything that has gone before, plus evidence of critical and/or commercial success.

Diversity Star

This award celebrates an individual who has shown a commitment to promoting diversity and inclusivity within the games industry.

Entry Requirements:
Tell us why this person deserves the Diversity award and what is extraordinary about what they’ve achieved. Give examples of how they’ve successfully promoted diversity and inclusion. What makes this person stand out? Include any supporting evidence and testimony within the qualifying period (1 June 2020 – 31 May 2021)

Judges will look for a trailblazer who has gone above and beyond to further the cause of diversity in our industry.

Best QA and Localisation Provider

Recognising the organisation that has provided the highest quality of service and contributed the most to usability, testing and localisation within the game developer community.

Entry Requirements:
Tell us why your organisation deserves the Best QA and Localisation award. What is your core business and how has your product/service supported game developers? Please describe in depth one title that you’re especially proud of helping bring to market within the qualifying period (1 June 2020 – 31 May 2021) and why. You may provide up to three customer testimonials.

Judges will look for excellence in service levels, delivery on brief and resulting critical and/or commercial success for the client.

Best Creative Provider

This award recognises the organisation that has provided exceptional audio assets (voice acting, music or sound effects) or visual assets (porting or creating sections of the game) for the game developer community.

Entry Requirements:
Tell us why your organisation deserves the Best Creative Provider award. What is your core business and how has your product/service supported game developers? Please describe in depth one title that you’re especially proud of helping bring to market within the qualifying period (1 June 2020 – 31 May 2021) and why. Please provide up to three customer testimonials.

Judges will look for innovation, creativity, excellence in service levels, delivery on brief and resulting critical and/or commercial success for the client.

 

Best Technology Provider

For this award we’ll be rewarding the organisation that has provided outstanding hardware and/or technological support for UK game developers. This could include third party engines, motion capture tools, dev kits or microprocessors.

Entry Requirements:
Tell us why your organisation deserve the Best Technology Provider award. Please describe in depth one title that you’re especially proud of helping bring to market within the qualifying period (1 June 2020 – 31 May 2021) and why. Please provide up to three customer testimonials.

Judges will look for innovation, excellence in service levels, delivery on brief and resulting critical and/or commercial success for the client.

Recruitment Star

Recognising an in-house team or external organisation that has shown outstanding policies and initiatives, and produced impressive results in successfully recruiting new team members.

Entry Requirements:
Tell us why your organisation or team deserves to be recognised as our Recruitment Star. Give us an example of your best placement within the qualifying period (1 June 2020 – 31 May 2021) and tell us how you contributed to your client or company's success. Please provide up to three testimonials.

Judges will look for innovative approaches and the resulting success.

Publishing Star

Recognising an organisation that has shown outstanding support helping developers get their game published. This can include via funding, discoverability, research or anything else that helped secure a successful route to market for new games. 

Entry Requirements:
Tell us why your organisation deserves to be recognised as our Publishing Star. Give us examples of a game or games you’re really proud to have supported within the qualifying period (1 June 2020 – 31 May 2021) and tell us how you contributed to their success. Please provide up to three testimonials from developers you’ve worked with.

Judges will look for innovative approaches and the resulting critical and/or commercial success for the developer.

Tomorrow's Star

The Tomorrow's Star award will recognise the achievements of new talent in the games industry. Nominees should be below senior management or director level. 

Entry Requirements:
Tell us why this person deserves the Tomorrow's Star award and what is extraordinary about what they’ve achieved. Give examples of how they’ve successfully contributed to your organisation. What makes this person stand out? Include any supporting evidence and testimony within the qualifying period (1 June 2020 – 31 May 2021)

Judges will look for an individual who strives to achieve success and results, inspires others and has the potential to become a future leader in our industry.

Best Mobile Game

This award will be given to the game that offers best overall player experience on a mobile phone or tablet.

Entry Requirements:
Tell us why this game deserves the Best Mobile Game award and what’s extraordinary about it. Give examples from the nominated game & explain what makes this game and the team’s achievements stand out?

Judges will look for innovation, creativity and technical achievement.

Game of the Year

Rewarding the game that stands out above all others in terms of gameplay, storytelling, art style, character development, creativity and overall player experience - across all genres and platforms.

Entry Requirements:
Tell us why this game deserves the Game of the Year award and what’s extraordinary about it. Give examples from the nominated game, their inspirations and what the goals were. What makes this game stand out as Game of the Year?

Judges will look for innovation, creativity and technical achievement not just commercial success.
 

Best Micro Studio

This award will go to a studio with four or fewer employees who’ve achieved exceptional critical and commercial success during the qualifying period.

Entry Requirements:
Tell us why your studio deserves to win Best Micro Studio. What makes your studio and the achievements of your team stand out? Explain your company culture and team dynamic, what’s remarkable about your game(s), development and production process and community engagement?
Link to examples of your latest game(s) from within the qualifying period (1 June 2020 – 31 May 2021)

Judges will look for evidence of all round outstanding achievement and individuality as well as critical and commercial success.

Best Studio

This award celebrates any studio with five or more employees who’ve achieved exceptional critical and commercial success during the qualifying period.

Entry Requirements:
Tell us why your studio deserves to win Best Studio. What makes your studio and the achievements of your team stand out? Explain your company culture and team dynamic, what’s remarkable about your game(s), development and production process and community engagement?
Link to examples of your latest game(s) from within the qualifying period (1 June 2020 – 31 May 2021)

Judges will look for evidence of all round outstanding achievement and individuality as well as critical and commercial success.

Develop:Star Awards Party

The Develop:Star Awards winners will be announced at a ceremony on the evening of Wednesday 27 October during Develop:Brighton.

Early Bird Tickets Now Available!

Make sure you and your team don’t miss out on the celebrations - tickets are now available to buy at the Early Bird rate, a saving of up to £400.
You can book tables or premium tables for 10 guests, or if you’re a micro indie dev studio with a team of 4 or less we have a special reduced rate on seats.

Book your tickets now!

Develop:Star Award

Debbie Bestwick MBE will receive this year's Develop  Star Award in recognition of an illustrious career spanning  more than 30 years. Co-founding Team17 in 1990, she  has been CEO since 2010 - accelerating the company's  success and goal of encapsulating the spirit of  independent games. Through Team17's publishing label,  the company has found success with the Overcooked!  franchise, Yoku’s Island Express, Blasphemous, and Moving Out.

Sponsorship Opportunities...


The Develop:Star Awards offer a range of sponsorship opportunities to help you achieve your marketing & promotional goals. Whatever your aims, there’s something to suit every pocket - all designed to maximise your exposure. 

To find out how you can get involved contact us at:

E: hello@tandemevents.co.uk
T: +44 (0)20 3927 6440

For anything else please get in touch...

The Develop:Brighton team is here to help, so if you’ve got any questions or queries about anything please get in touch.

You can reach us by phone or email:

E: hello@tandemevents.co.uk
T: +44 (0)20 3927 6440