Missed the GamesBeat Summit excitement? Don’t worry! Tune in now to catch all of the live and virtual sessions here.

The GamesIndustry.biz Best Places To Work Awards 2023 is looking for the best game companies in the U.S., United Kingdom and Canada.

The awards are open to all game companies with offices in the regions, and the deadline to apply is August 25 for the U.K., September 8 for the U.S. and September 22 for Canada. Companies that apply can be developers, publishers, service companies, retail and media. Submissions can be entered here.

The awards are separated for each region, with a U.S. event coming in August. The U.K. ceremony is taking place on September 27, and the Canada awards event will be in October. Here’s a video of last year’s winners in the U.S.

Best Places to Work in games.

Christopher Dring, head of Games B2B at GamesIndustry.biz, said in an interview with GamesBeat that the criteria is based on a two-survey system, one for the employer to fill in (and worth 20% of the score) and the other for employees (80% of the score).

The employer survey asks questions about benefits, healthcare, annual leave, maternity pay and things like that, Dring said. The second survey must go to every employee, and it features over 50 sentiment statements that staff must agree or disagree with – or strongly disagree or strongly agree.

The surveyors also do “red line” checks, looking at other sources such as news stories written about the companies, litigation, commentaries on social media and reviews on Glassdoor, Dring said. If the information is conflicting, GamesIndustry.biz tries to get to facts about the company’s reputation.

“If a department within a studio crunches, we might miss it if all the other departments don’t. So we have these checks where we take a closer look at certain questions and try to identify if there are any issues,” Dring said. “We make sure there isn’t some hidden issue here. The data might be hiding it.”

Christopher Dring is head of Games B2B at GamesIndustry.biz
Christopher Dring is head of Games B2B at GamesIndustry.biz

The responses are confidential. The businesses that don’t win aren’t named. But Dring said that many companies that have low ratings continue to apply to use the ratings as a benchmark for improvement. GamesIndustry.biz deletes the data after 20 days, but it keeps average scores so companies can see how they do over the years. One high-rated company saw its scores drop as it moved on from its internal projects to work for hire.

Those who participate can get a free report on overall scores and benchmarking and more advanced reports are available for a fee. There are special awards for excellence in diversity, corporate social responsibility, health and wellbeing, and education and environmental support. The event also has a “best boss” award. Sponsors include Hutch Games and Playground Games and presenters include Rocksteady and ICO Partners.

“One of the things that reassures me about doing these awards is that, at the right company, this can be a good industry,” Dring said.

For the U.S. Awards last year, 90% of staff surveyed said they look forward to going into work most days. And 93% get a sense of accomplishment from their role.

“Reading all the headlines about games companies… and writing them in many cases, it can make you despair,” Dring said. “Doing these awards reassures me that’s really not the case everywhere.”

There were 88 participants in the U.K. awards last year, 45 in the U.S. and 60 in Canada. The U.K. awards have been running for seven years, it’s quite mature now and established. The US and Canada are entering their third year this year, and Dring would like to see more participants.

“The real heart of the awards is around ‘making the games industry a better place to work’. We do that in three ways,” Dring said. “The first was a bit unintentional, but simply getting the surveys and filling them in has been really educational for a lot of companies. We have loads of anecdotal comments from people who tell us they changed this benefit, or adopted this diversity initiative because of a question in our survey.”

Space Ape Games was a winner in 2019 for the Best Places to Work.

Another way is to study the reports on how the staff rating them for each statement. And the winners get highlighted and get some publicity about being a best place to work and can share their lessons with the rest of the industry.

What’s a place one of the best to work?

“It’s a place where they feel secure. They’re working on a project and they’re paid well,” Dring said. “But what I find quite interesting is that 90% of people enjoy going to work most days at a [given] company. It’s clearly a great industry. There’s a lot of great companies out there. So this has been very reassuring to me.”

Dring said each company is different. During the 2021 awards, he said there were staffers at one company who – on the whole — were disappointed that their bosses were making them come back into the office after COVID. On the flip side, another firm had the exact opposite situation where staff were disappointed that their bosses were making them stay at home.

But the biggest things people care about include how they’re rewarded, what their work/life balance is like and whether they like the projects they’re working on. One company gave such high bonuses that some staff paid off their mortgages.

“It was unsurprising to see them rank highly. We’ve had companies who recently adopted four-day working weeks score very highly,” Dring said. “We’ve also had one company who win every year, but saw their score drop a bit when they moved from working on their own project to supporting another studio on their one. They clearly liked having ownership over their own game.”

GamesBeat’s creed when covering the game industry is “where passion meets business.” What does this mean? We want to tell you how the news matters to you — not just as a decision-maker at a game studio, but also as a fan of games. Whether you read our articles, listen to our podcasts, or watch our videos, GamesBeat will help you learn about the industry and enjoy engaging with it. Discover our Briefings.