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Pickford: UK BAFTAS "designed to discourage smaller games"

Speaking to Spong, iOS developer Ste Pickford has claimed the UK BAFTAs are not suited to the task of awarding excellence in the field of development, saying the entry fee alone "seems designed to discourage smaller games from becoming involved."

The British BAFTAs came under attack from UK mobile developer Ste Pickford this morning, who claimed the event is not well-suited to awarding excellence in the general field of games development, and seems specifically "designed to discourage smaller games from becoming involved."

It's a little known fact that publishers and developers must pay to enter their games for the BAFTAs, which goes partway to explaining why Rockstar's never won one: the company refuses to pony up.

"Games have to be submitted to BAFTA by the developer or publisher, for a fee of around £475, which includes a £225 registration fee if it's your first time," said Pickford.

"This is a trivial amount to take from the marketing budget of a triple-A console title, but could be a significant sum of money for someone who's self-published a great little iOS title or developed an innovative Flash game, and the fee seems designed to discourage smaller games from becoming involved."

"Marketing tool"

Pickford also criticised the choice of categories for the awards, saying they should be shifted to specific disciplines instead of rewarding genres.

"Almost half of the awards are based not on a particular developer skill or talent, but on games in a particular genre (Action, Family, Online Multiplayer, Sports/Fitness, Strategy), or released on a particular platform (Browser Online, Mobile and Handheld).

"This is in marked contrast to the BAFTA film awards, the bulk of which are based on particular skills (Leading Actress, Supporting Actor, Directing, Editing, Cinematography, Costume Design, etc).

"Genre is a terrible way to classify awards if you're on the lookout for excellence. Would we respect film awards given out to the Best Chick Flick, Best Buddy Movie, Best Horror Movie, or Best Action Movie released each year?

"I think we'd rightly view such awards as no more than a marketing tool."

Pickford added that categorising by platform is also flawed.

"The real clue as to why there are platform-specific awards is the fact that the smaller platforms (Mobile, Browser) have their own award categories, but the big consoles don't," he said.

"This is an implicit acknowledgement that all the 'main' awards are effectively reserved for console games (i.e. the big budget AAA titles), and the extra platform-specific categories are an attempt to give the odd 'little game' a shot at an award.

"Ghettoising non-console games in other words."

Pickford's latest game has not been entered for the awards this year.

"After a couple of days weighing up the pros and cons of submitting we decided to save our £475 and not bother this year, which is why Magnetic Billiards: Blueprint has no chance of winning a BAFTA," he said.

The 2012 BAFTAs take place on Friday, March 16 in London.

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