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GameStop kicks off new indie mobile game initiative, hires Zynga GM to run it

GameStop today unveiled a multi-prong program to help promote indie game development of free-to-play mobile games. The initiative includes a $10 million fund to support struggling developers, a reworked GameStop app designed to help promote the titles and a consultation program.

The Kongregate Mobile Developers program will be overseen by former Zynga general manager Panayoti Haritatos. Haritatos was the founder and CEO of Urbansquall, which was purchased by Zynga in 2009.

"Developers are increasingly finding it harder to get their games discovered through the different app stores," said Haritatos, vice president of Kongregate mobile. "I personally faced these challenges in 2009 while managing my own game studio. Utilizing the Kongregate platform made my games successful, which ultimately led to my studio being acquired by Zynga."

The program will provide financial assistance to qualified developers already working on games to help them cover final build and integration expenses. It will also provide free consultation with game developers, including creative services, quality assurance, gameplay testing and competitive research.

Games in the program can receive promotion across Kongregate through GameStop's iOS and Android apps and the international retailers websites. Selected titles have the potential to reach millions of gamers with exposure in GameStop's 6,600 stores worldwide, according to the press release. Kongrgate will also manage paid advertising campaigns for games across third party networks and will "execute PR and game reviews and work with app stores to get games featured on behalf of the developer."

"Developers are increasingly finding it harder to get their games discovered through the different app stores."

Those interested in the program are asked to apply at the official site.

The new GameStop initiative is being unveiled the day before the annual DICE conference kicks off in Las Vegas. GameStop told Polygon late last year that Indie Game Challenge was on hiatus and would not be held during this year's DICE conference.

A GameStop representative told Polygon at the time that they remain committed to supported the independent game developer community and that more details would be forthcoming this year.

Announced in 2009 as a partnership between GameStop, The Guildhall at Southern Methodist University and the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences, the first Indie Game Challenge competition took place in 2010 during the AIAS-sponsored DICE (Design, Innovate, Communicate, Entertain) summit.

Despite the cancellation this year, the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences told Polygon that they remain supportive of indie games.

The conference addressed the cancellation of the IGC by adding several indie speakers to their program.

Those speakers include Amir Rao from independent studio Supergiant Games and thatgamecompany's Jenova Chen.

The DICE summit officially kicks off Wednesday with an informal conversation between Star Wars director J.J. Abrams and Valve president and co-founder Gabe Newell. Polygon will be on hand to cover that and all of the talks at the show.

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