The beginning of the new year brings with it a number of exciting video game events, including the Consumer Electronics Show and PAX East, but few are as worthy of great expectations as the annual Independent Games Festival (at least if you are an independent game developer). Held each year during the Game Developers Conference, the IGF is an annual spotlight shone upon some of the most creative game design in the world. Past winners of the competition like Minecraft, Braid, Fez, Dust: Elysian Tale and others have made it into players’ hands thanks in part to exposure from the event. Not all IGF finalists reach a big audience, though. Valve is going to change that with Steam.
The organizers of the IGF announced on Monday that it has entered a new partnership with Valve that will help competition finalists get their games to the public. All IGF 2013 Min Competition finalists will have an opportunity to sign a distribution agreement with Valve to place those games on Steam, foregoing both the regular Steam submission process as well as the crowd-sourced Steam Greenlight process.
Who will be getting Steam placement thanks to the IGF? Many of the games honored with nominations this year are already available on Steam, like Subset Games’ widely lauded FTL: Faster Than Light, Little Inferno, Thirty Flights of Loving and Terry Cavanagh’s Super Hexagon. Other games like Kentucky Route Zero were actually already competing for Steam placement through Steam Greenlight.
Some games, though, might not make it Steam at all. Drinkbox Studios’ Indiecade darling Guacamelee!, nominated for an Excellence in Visual Art award, is planned as a PlayStation Network exclusive as of this writing. There were hints that the game might come to Steam. User Dan Rutstein spotted Guacamelee! In Steam’s registry back in September, but no announcement was ever made.
Valve has always worked hard to accommodate and promote independent game developers, so it’s new support of the IGF competition and its finalists isn’t surprising. With Valve planning to releases its very own living room PC this year, though, these indie games may have an even greater chance of reaching a large audience than if they were just on Steam.
Congratulations to all IGF finalists.