Play demos of 13 upcoming games on Steam before the Game Awards

(Image credit: Geoff Keighley)

The Game Awards is trying something a little different this year in the form of The Game Festival, a "digital consumer event" that will give gamers access to more than a dozen demos for upcoming games on Steam for 48 hours.

(Game Awards founder Geoff Keighley said 12, but I double-checked the list in the announcement and it's definitely 13. Fair play, the announcement itself also says "more than a dozen.")

"Six years ago I bet everything I had to create The Game Awards as a way to celebrate our passion for gaming. Now feels like the right time to take the next step with The Game Festival, a completely digital approach to the consumer event space," Keighley said.

"Let’s face it: Not everyone can attend a physical trade show or consumer event. The Game Festival is designed from the ground-up as an event without barriers, extending the benefits of a physical event to the global gaming community that watches The Game Awards."

Demos will include:

  • System Shock (Nightdive Studios)
  • Eastward (Pixpil/Chucklefish)
  • Spiritfarer (Thunder Lotus)
  • Moving Out (SMG Studio/Devm Games/Team17)
  • Röki (Polygon Treehouse/United Label)
  • Chicory (Greg Lobanov)
  • Wooden Nickel (Brain&Brain)
  • Haven (The Game Bakers)
  • Heavenly Bodies (2pt Interactive)
  • Acid Knife (Powerhoof)
  • The Drifter (Powerhoof)
  • CARRION (Phobia/Devolver)
  • SkateBIRD (Glass Bottom Games)

The Game Awards is well-known as a source for major game announcements: Last year's event saw announcements for Far Cry: New Dawn, The Outer Worlds, Rage 2, and Dauntless, as well as pre-release teasers for Anthem and a new Dragon Age. Announcements for smaller indie games are pretty easy to overlook amidst all that shiny chrome, so putting them out there to play seems to me like a really good way to draw attention to them that they otherwise wouldn't get.

The Game Festival will begin at 10 am PT/1 pm ET on December 12—that's tomorrow—and run until the same time on December 14. Once the event is over, the demos will disappear, and Keighley confirmed that they'll be unplayable even if you have them downloaded and installed. He also said that while this year's demo-fest is limited to Steam, he hopes to bring it to consoles in 2020.

The Game Awards show begins at 5:30 pm PT/8:30 pm ET on December 12, and will be livestreamed on Twitch, YouTube, Mixer, Facebook, and other streaming sites, a full list of which you can find here. We'll be watching and reporting as it happens.

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.