They accept donations via PayPal and pledges of physical prizes. Your donation can be anonymous, and you can be listed on the donor page (anonymously, or with or without a pseudonym - they will email and ask if or how you’d like to appear on their donor page.) Any little bit counts, and supports the creation of new and exciting Interactive Fiction every year.
If you’re inclined, check out the IFComp prize page for more details: IFComp - Prizes
Prizes needn’t necessarily be related to IF. People have donated used books that are hard to find (I’ve got an original copy of Aaron Reed’s Inform 7 book I consider parting with each year!) or your own physical art you create such as jewelry or crafts. You can also pledge a prize to be fulfilled by Amazon or any online retailer and direct-ship it to the winner. Others have provided physical classic games (if you’ve got original feelies like a Wishbringer Stone taking up space in your garage someone will definitely treasure it!) or new games if an online digital service allows gifting to the winner.
NOTE: Steam no longer allows online gifting (you’ve got to be “Steam friends” for some such - and there are limitations for gifting internationally…see discussion below.) Creators or publishers of Steam games may donate redeemable codes (a.k.a. “Steam keys”) for their games as prizes. (This is likely do-able also on any game services that allow creator/publishers to distribute codes like itch.io.)
People have been quite crafty with service donations. In the past people have pledged prizes of professional services like an original artwork based on the winning game (or potentially for the winning author’s next game), creating physical artifacts or an original feelie set for the winner’s game, composing music or songs, coding assistance, or producing a short game set in the same universe of the author’s at their direction.
In the past, donors could also specify requirements on separately pledged cash or prizes: You can specify your prize is for the “Highest placing Horror Game that involves zombies,” for example - which goes well if you’re donating a zombie-related prize or artwork.
If you’re interested, check out the IFComp Prizes page for more details about donating or pledging a prize of your choice.
Quick note, due to some changes in Steam’s policies it’s not possible to donate Steam games to the prize pool any more.
One thing we can’t accept, much as we’d like to: gifts of Steam games. Due to Steam’s restrictions on purchasing games for other users, we can’t offer them as part of our prize pool. Exception: Creators or publishers of Steam games may donate redeemable codes (a.k.a. “Steam keys”) for their games as prizes.
I’ve seen this mentioned before, and it’s alluded to in the IFComp site’s policies, but when it’s reduced to the line ‘Steam no longer allows online gifting’, it’s not correct.
Forgetting IFComp for a moment, you can buy someone a gift on Steam. The requirement is that you be Steam friends with them first. What you can’t do is transfer a game you own, and have played (EDIT - actually, stop at the phrase ‘you own’ - it doesn’t matter whether you’ve played it or not!) to anyone else.
I assume IFComp doesn’t want anyone donating a Steam prize to be obligated to Steam-friend an entrant in order to be able to give them that prize, and that that’s the reason for their policy: “Due to Steam’s restrictions on purchasing games for other users, we can’t offer them as part of our prize pool.”
So in practice, in IFComp, the only Steam game you can donate is one you / your company has made.
I think the key is, it used to be possible to purchase a game as an item, keep it in your inventory, and then transfer it to someone’s account (via the marketplace or whatever). And they got rid of that because people were using it to abuse currency exchange rates. Which is sad, because I liked grabbing a bunch of copies of my favorite games when they were on sale, then interacting with someone and saying “oh you’ve never played [this game]? Here, have a copy”.
Now you have to declare the recipient at the time when you buy the game, instead of getting it as an inventory item to transfer later, which makes it a right pain to donate a game for something like this.
(Since donors have to deal with the logistics of shipping physical items internationally, I don’t think the friend list thing would be a deal breaker in and of itself. Adding someone then removing them again is a much easier task than that!)
I dunno, you just click ‘buy for someone else’ on the game, pay, and then click the steam friend. I think it’s easy. The only fiddle is getting the friend in the first place. I agree, you could friend and unfriend, and I thought maybe IFComp didn’t want that. But you’re right that that’s potentially no more or less personally inveigling than what you have to do if you’re sending a book or something.
In short, I don’t know what IFComp are thinking, whether they don’t understand Steam’s policy, or something else. So I’m going to ask them. Really soon! First I’ll give them a chance to just teleport in here and handily explain it, which will be less work for me. EDIT - I’ve emailed @Jacqueline
Ha - thanks. You gave me less than 5 minutes between this post and the email, it looks like, though I got the notifications simultaneously. (I don’t mean for that to sound passive agressive, I’m just laughing about how the notifications came back to back…)
This rule is, I believe, pre-Jacqueline. Let me talk to the crew and see what precipitated it. More soon!
One problem with Steam gifting in its current state is that it typically blocks you from gifting to friends in different regions due to pricing differences. There are ways around this but they involve buying keys from resellers, which can be pretty sketchy.
I think the “gift to friend” option could certainly work (assuming people don’t have an issue with those extra steps in the process), but in order to avoid nasty surprises at checkout you would probably need to make the prize unavailable to anyone outside of your country.
My experience (from someone living in Indonesia) is that there’s a disparity much like passport strength. Friends in the USA can send games to me, but I cannot send games to others. I think it’s usually fine to gift games, but I prefer gift money if people are doing the Steam Wallet approach.
Hello again. Have not forgotten about this, but right now I need to focus on authors just before the deadline for them to turn in their entries. We’re still accepting prizes after the competition opens, so once we have all of that kicked off, I’ll be back with an update. Thanks for your patience, folks.
For reference, if you’ve got emails or notifications turned on, It’s set for a five-minute delay before it notifies you in case the post gets immediately deleted or edited in that time. Your all-sides notification might not have been intended!
I’m feeling excited about the end of IFComp to see what got first place and etc., so I’m really pondering over what I should do as my second gift… (don’t ask, I feel like doing it). I think I have an idea…