In 2016, Google hosted the inaugural Indie Games Festival in San Francisco, a developer competition that highlighted “high-quality […] innovative and fun” Android games released in the preceding year. Now, in preparation for the second annual festival on September 23, it announced the 20 finalists after opening submissions for developers based in the United States and Canada in July.
The terms were the same as last year’s contest. Prospective applicants had to have 15 or fewer team members to qualify and games submitted must have been released at some point in the past year. The festival’s 20 finalists have the opportunity to demo their game at the event and compete for a chance at the top three grand prize spots.
Registration to the festival is also now open for those interested in attending. While the event is free and open to the public, you still have to pre-register online in order to confirm your attendance.
Fans will have the chance to vote for their favorites and the top 10 will move on to the next round. Finalists will then have to present a short pitch to the panel of judges to claim a spot as one of the three overall festival winners. Google has not announced the prizes of this year’s Indie Game Festival, but last year’s haul included depth-sensing Tango hardware, tickets to this year’s Google I/O, and ad space in the Google Play store.
The Indie Games Festival may be the most visible of Google’s game developer overtures but it is not the only one.
In March, the Mountain View, California-based company announced Indie Corner, a new section of the Play Store app store featuring a new, regularly updated collection of hand-picked titles.
And at its 2017 I/O Developer Conference in May, Google announced a slew of new tools aimed at boosting the visibility of apps in the Play Store, including a discoverability algorithm that surfaces titles based on user engagement and new Play Store pages curated by Google editors. Google said that one new feature — strike-through price promotions on paid apps and games that let developers temporarily list apps for free — generated “3x-20x lift in installs during […] promotions [and] maintained a nice lift once the sale ended.”
The reason behind Google’s aggressive developer recruitment boils down to competition. iOS apps tend to make more money than Android apps, and the iOS App Store brings in as much as 75 percent more revenue than the Play Store. Analytics firm App Annie projects that through 2021, the Play Store will generate less than half of the iOS App Store’s overall revenue.
But there is hope on the horizon for Android developers. In an analysis of foreign app stores by Tencent, Baidu, Xiaomi, Huawei, and others, collective Android app revenue is expected to eclipse iOS as soon as 2021.
Update: Google announced the 20 finalists for the Indie Games Festival and opened registration for the event to the public