The Independent Games Festival has renewed its deal with Valve to give shortlisted finalists of the 2014 IGF Awards an automagical Golden Ticket onto Steam. All main competition finalists will be offered a distribution deal, whether they're nominated in the individual Excellence categories, the Seumas McNally Grand Prize, or the Nuovo Award. "Nuovo" being IGF speak for "kinda weird".
Thanks to the IGF 2013 deal, Steam became home to games like Kentucky Route Zero, Starseed Pilgrim, Bientot l'Ete, Gone Home, MirrorMoon EP, and - winner of the Grand Prize, Nuovo and Narrative awards - Cart Life. It's arguable that many of the games would have eventually secured distribution without the guaranteed offer, but the partnership remains a pretty convenient shortcut for indies.
It's going to be especially interesting this year to see how the nomination list compares to Steam's own Greenlight approval list. Valve's wisdom-of-the-crowds voting system is supposed to make it easier for quality indie games to get onto the storefront, but its success at doing so is debatable. At the very least, the Steam/IGF deal gives acclaimed projects a second chance, even if they didn't capture the attention of Greenlight's core voter base.
The 16th IGF will run from the 17-21st March, 2014. The finalists will be announced January.