The annual Independent Games Festival has entered into a multi-year partnership with Microsoft's Xbox Live Arcade publishing team, which will see a new "XBLA Prize" added to the IGF roster of prizes.
Winners of the 2012 IGF awards will be announced at the 2012 Game Developers Conference in San Francisco on March 7.
According to the official announcement on the IGF website, the new prize will give its recipient "a guaranteed first-party publishing deal to release the selected title on Microsoft's LIVE-enabled platforms, including the Xbox LIVE Arcade service, Windows Phone, and Windows," as well as "full game funding to complete the project, if desired." Access to "Microsoft's extensive suite of first-party publishing services"–including usability, testing, and production aid–is also promised, provided the winner accepts the 'XBLA Prize' and associated publishing contract.
The Microsoft-sponsored XBLA Prize joins nearly $60,000 worth of other sponsored prizes at the IGF, including the coveted Seamus McNally $30,000 Grand Prize. Unlike some other prizes, the XBLA Prize eligibility applies to all of the IGF entries in both the Main Competition and Student Showcase divisions. Finalists have yet to be culled from the 567 Main Competition entries and 295 Student Showcase entries. The top thirty selected games will be on display at the IGF showcase at GDC 2012.