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Indie game showcase Day of the Devs levels up, goes nonprofit, and wants your help

Fundraising (with rewards) is now live

Michael McWhertor is a journalist with more than 17 years of experience covering video games, technology, movies, TV, and entertainment.

Indie game showcase Day of the Devs, a longtime collaboration between developer Double Fine and iam8bit, is changing as it enters its 12th year. Day of the Devs is now a fully independent nonprofit organization, and, in accordance with that change, is raising funds to support efforts to spotlight “unique and magical video games and the developers who make them,” organizers said in an announcement Monday.

The event has been home to more than 500 indies over the past decade-plus, including breakout hits like Hollow Knight, Spelunky 2, Untitled Goose Game, Getting Over It, Return of the Obra Dinn, and Cocoon.

The shift to a nonprofit organization will make Day of the Devs’ fundraising efforts “more transparent and public, help sponsors and the community understand how critical their support truly is, and solidify the commitment to being 100% platform agnostic,” organizers said.

Those funds, which will be raised through the platform Fundraise Up, will be used to pay for venue fees, equipment, staffing, video production, and overall operating costs. The organization will also continue to take financial assistance from sponsors, which have helped Day of the Devs run showcase events since 2012 at places like Summer Game Fest and the Game Developers Conference (GDC).

Finally, the event will remain completely free, both for developers who showcase their games and for attendees who visit in person.

Speaking with Day of the Devs board members and iam8bit founders Amanda White and Jon Gibson, the organization has been operating in a nonprofit capacity unofficially for more than a decade. It was time to make it official.

“When Day of the Devs began, it was [because] Double Fine had this game called Broken Age and they wanted to figure out a way to involve the community after a great fundraising campaign,” Gibson said. “Then they realized, Oh, hey, we could include some of our friends in this and their games. If we’re going to get attention for our game, maybe some other games could get attention too. So together, we created this thing called Day of the Devs. It started growing as we went, but the intent was always like we were operating like a nonprofit — any sponsor money would be spent as if it was a nonprofit. But now, as an organization, we can get people receipts, and hopefully make them more charitable as a result.”

“And they can contribute meaningfully to the thing that they love so much,” White added. “You know, we’ve got such a strong community around [Day of the Devs], it’s really a way for them to officially kind of be a part of it.”

To encourage contributions, developers from past and present Day of the Devs events are sweetening the pot. Fans who donate to the fundraiser can receive gifts, including game keys from Double Fine Productions, Enhance, Night School Studio, Capybara Games, and others.

Upcoming Day of the Devs events planned for 2024 include Day of the Devs: San Francisco in March (alongside GDC 2024), Day of the Devs: Summer Game Fest Edition in June, and Day of the Devs: The Game Awards Edition in December. The San Francisco event will also feature an in-person showcase that’ll take place on Sunday, March 17, at The Midway.

In addition to supporting ongoing events, organizers say they have grander plans, should its fundraising goals exceed expectations.

“We hope to be able to offer things like scholarships to indie devs or students who are studying and learning about game development,” Gibson said. “We hope to be able to take Day of the Devs internationally. We have a lot of aspirations that will be made possible by the success of this fundraising campaign and this conversion to a nonprofit.”

Day of the Devs can be a much-needed spotlight on indie games, which often struggle with discoverability and funding — particularly now, as indie devs report increased challenges in finding publisher support and financing for their projects.

“We know what Day of the Devs is doing, in shining a spotlight on games that otherwise may have never bubbled to the top,” Gibson said. “And we’re really ecstatic that we can do that.

“Half the problem, if not a majority of the problem with indie games, and just games in general, is discovery. And Day of the Devs has always been this immense launching pad for all different kinds of games. These are games from all walks of life, from developers that are either solo and making the game on their own for the last seven years, or small teams who lack funding or can’t get publisher support. Publishers are watching and attending the show and finding games to sign, to publish. That happens every time we do it. From first parties looking for games to support — Nintendo, PlayStation, [Xbox] — they’re at every event.”

Gibson added, “But it’s not about the business behind it. It’s about the game itself.”

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