Player Unknown Battlegrounds is a nominee for Video Game Awards' GOTY title. Understandably, that sparked a debate on whether early access titles should be eligible to be nominated for such an award: a game that hasn't been reviewed by sites who may consider early access titles moving targets (and which I very much agree with).
The main problem is in comparing Video Game Awards to Academy Awards. Instead, the GOTY award appears to be more like an Emmy, and I'll argue why that is.
Movies are pretty clear-cut in when they came out. Once the movie is in the theatre, that's usually it. See this page here? That's a very clear-cut definition of which movies are eligible for nominations.
If an award can be given to a game during its development, when else can it be given? Wouldn't you know, VGA has sufficiently clear rules on their website as well. In there it explicitly says that:
Games eligible for The Game Awards this year must be available for public consumption on or before November 17, 2017. Titles that are released after this date will be eligible for The Game Awards ceremony in 2018. (Similarly, games that were released after November 24, 2016 are eligible for this year’s awards). Games released in previous years are eligible for nomination in all categories, if the jury feels the game has made significant creative and/or technical improvements that merit a nomination.
At first, I thought "Game of the year, every year" was just a joke, but apparently that can be a real thing. If World of Warcraft had made a significant improvement this year, it might've competed for Game of the Year in 2017, 13 years after its original release.
Of course, VGA is just one type of award and the people organizing can set the rules to be whatever they want. That doesn't mean those awards matter one iota.
And now, I'll talk in the general about video game awards.
Oscars, at least here, are the most famous awards for audiovisual entertainment. They have a fair bit more prestige than the Emmies: the awards for TV work in the US.
Emmies are awarded in various categories, such as Daytime Emmy Awards where people from series like Young and the Restless, the Bold and the Beautiful and Days of Our Lives have received awards. If you're like me, that's not necessarily a notable merit. I wouldn't watch soaps to see the best acting ever or even high production values. But the same series can win awards over the many years it has new episodes to air, and that's only right.
However, if you don't know, guess which series won 2016 Emmies for "Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series", "Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series" and "Outstanding Drama Series"? That's Game of Thrones, with earlier Emmy awards from 2011 and 2015. Suddenly, comparing a video game award to an Emmy doesn't sound as bad, does it?
It's apparent that the games as a media have changed and are still changing. Games don't get 'frozen' the day they're released, unless your latest gaming system is a Wii or older. My net experience of Rainbow Six Siege is watching the "annual rereview video" by Super Bunnyhop, but that also sounds like a model case. Even small games aren't necessarily like that: Slain (Wolf Brew Games, 2016) was a mess, Slain: Back From Hell (Wolf Brew Games, 2016) is a reworking that significantly improved it.
I'm arguing for inclusion here: Limiting a game's eligibility to any awards for only the year it was first deemed "complete" doesn't fit the present-day realities. When games can improve or change -- think Two Worlds 2 with microtransactions added years after the game's release -- significantly over the years and this tendency looks to be growing only more common, I don't think it's 'fair' to consider awarding games only that one year, so long as only what is available (and what has changed since the previous year) at the time is used in the consideration.
Video game "Oscars" haven't been a valid concept for the whole field of gaming since 2005. Video Game "Emmys" would be more valid right now.
And as much as I dislike the organizations behind VGA, they've got the right idea. That still doesn't mean the awards mean a thing, though.