The cancellation of this year's Indie Game Challenge, an annual event at the DICE conference since 2009, is not a reflection of the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences' support of indie game, the academy tells Polygon.
Yesterday, GameStop confirmed to Polygon that the retailer wouldn't be hosting the challenge this year and that the award was on temporary hold. The "hiatus" will allow the company to "take time to analyze ways to promote and celebrate the independent game movement," an official said.
Reached for comment, an academy spokeswoman said they are addressing the lack of indie games at the conference with new programming.
"The IGC is on hiatus for the 2012/2013 year," said Debby Chen, a spokeswoman for the academy. "Since we are re-evaluating Indie Game Challenge this year, we have decided to address the indie space at DICE this year with several great speakers."
Those speakers include Amir Rao from independent studio Supergiant Games and thatgamecompany's Jenova Chen. Debby Chen said the two speakers will talk about their approach to design and development.
"We are absolutely committed to the independent space."
DICE will also include a panel featuring speakers from mobile indie developers Halfbrick, Supercell, Backflip and Spry Fox.
"The AIAS' mission has been and always will be to celebrate the best in games, both big and small," Debby Chen said. "We have had great partners in the past to help us promote the independent space, and we will have great partners in the future to continue doing so. The independent games space is as much a part of the life blood of the games industry as any AAA blockbuster."
News of the hiatus comes a year after the Indie Game Challenge expanded to include a new award. The GameStop PC Digital Download awarded one game a $50,000 publishing deal with GameStop. The winner, Symphony, was to be featured in the retailers weekly PC download newsletter, show up on GameStop's Impulse download store front page and receive in-store marketing on the shelves of the store.
In previous years, the Indie Game Challenge ran over the course of the two day summit. Finalists for the challenge typically set up their games in a room near the summit, showing off their games to passing press and holding meetings with interested developers and publishers. It was, previous finalists have told Polygon, an important chance to network with developers and publishers they rarely would have access to.
The winners of the challenge were typically announced during an award ceremony on the final day of the summit.
Debby Chen tells Polygon that this hiatus won't mean the end of indie promotion at the summit.
"We are absolutely committed to the independent space," she said, "we are just figuring out how to evolve the program to better serve the community moving forward."