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Ubisoft aims to foster Canadian indie scene via dev contest series

Ubisoft aims to foster Canadian indie scene via dev contest series

September 26, 2016 | By Alex Wawro

September 26, 2016 | By Alex Wawro
More: Indie, Business/Marketing

Embattled Ubisoft intends to make a show of supporting the indie game community in Canada this fall via a series of open competitions to which indie devs can submit their games -- and potentially win prizes that include money, support and publishing on uPlay.

This is only relevant to indies in Canada (specifically around the cities of Montreal, Quebec City and Toronto), but for those devs it's worth paying attention to these "Ubisoft Indie Series" events because they offer a shot at free resources and exposure.

That shot appears to come with no strings attached. According to Ubisoft, devs who submit their games to these competitions will not expected to cede any rights or revenues to those games.

"Our goal with the Indie Series is to support the games community but also elevate Canadian games development on the international level," Ubisoft's Marie Claude Bernard told Gamasutra via email. "In order to achieve this, we believe participants should not have to cede any rights or revenue to Ubisoft. Their IP will remain entirely theirs, whether they are participants or they win the contest."

Ubisoft is partnering with the National Bank of Canada to host the Indie Series, which kicks off in Toronto this Wednesday, September 28th, with follow-up debuts in Montreal on October 6th and Quebec City on October 13th. Full rules, regulations and submission processes will be announced at those events, and participants can expect to have until November 18th to submit their games.

While there isn't (yet) a central hub to check out for info on the Series, a Ubisoft representative tells Gamasutra that devs can expect to submit their games and find more info on the websites of Ubi studios in Toronto and Montreal.

It's rare to see a big-budget game company partner with a bank to host indie dev competitions. Still, the notion of focusing on entrepreneurship and the business of indie game development makes sense when you consider that financing and discoverability are two of the biggest hurdles indie devs face these days.

Ubisoft Indie Series submissions will reportedly be evaluated by juries comprised of both Ubisoft and National Bank staffers, and 10 submissions per city will be invited to pitch their game in front of the jury at a special "Demo Night." Ubisoft says one winner will be picked for each city, and awarded a prize package that includes: $50,000 in funding, distribution on uPlay, marketing support for the game, financial guidance and mentorship from experienced game devs. 

Again, the focus on "entrepreneurship" is strong here: each winner will also receive a ticket to an entrepreneurship event in Canada, as well as a ticket to "CampNB", the National Bank's workshop/seminar event for entrepreneurs. Plus, the Bank evidently plans to offer a "60-minute financial diagnosis with a financial expert" to 5 dev competitors from each city.

"When we met with independent developers, they told us money was important, but what was even more important was the opportunity to gain access to expert advice and help on the marketing and communication front," Bernard told Gamasutra. "We see this as a way to build stronger relationships with independent studios and together, drive Canada’s leadership in videogames."

They're not alone, either -- everyone from Electronic Arts to Nvidia to Google is launching indie-centric promotions this year, though none share Ubisoft Indie Series' focus on Canada.

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