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Play Underground Games! and 13AM Games winners of the Ubisoft Indie Series in Ontario

February 9, 2024
3 minutes read
Matt West Web Banner

The Grand Prize and National Bank Special Prize winners take home a combined $75,000 following the 8th edition of the competition, presented by National Bank 

Play Underground Games! has been named the Grand Prize winner of the 2024 Ubisoft Indie Series in Ontario, presented by National Bank, taking home the $50,000 Grand Prize. 13AM Games was named National Bank Special Prize winner, receiving $25,000. In addition to the cash prizes, the two winners will also benefit from mentorship and financial counsel from Ubisoft and National Bank.

PUG! is a brand-new Toronto-based studio, recently formed by a crew of collaborative friends. The studio’s winning entry stood out for its strong visual identity and compelling story. 

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“Shout out to everyone who has taught us everything about games,” said Funké Joseph from Play Underground Games! “We started this project in the past 4 months, and everyone has been so welcoming, giving us advice and really cheering us on – it means so much. We’re going to make something amazing and its all because of your help!”

The studio is composed entirely of up-and-coming LGBTQ+, BIPOC creators aiming to make art that resonates with their communities. PUG! believes games are an artful, meaningful medium and that self-publishing is powerful. They aim to make space, inspire and uplift their contemporaries to fight for their weird stories too.

The Ubisoft Indie Series supports and promotes creativity, leadership, diversity and entrepreneurship in the video game industry. The prizes were determined by a jury of Ubisoft experts, whose expertise ranges across game design, narrative, accessibility, programming, art and marketing. 

“Congratulations to PUG!, 13AM Games and to all of our finalists,” said Andy Schmoll, Jury Chair and Game Director at Ubisoft Toronto. “We’re consistently impressed by the exceptional creativity, innovation and dedication.” 

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National Bank Special Prize Winner: 13AM Games

13AM Games is an independent video game studio focused on stylish action and multiplayer games. The team’s entry stood out for its clear thematic hook with a twist on a well-known genre. 

“Everyone is incredibly passionate about this project and we’re really grateful for this opportunity to come here and talk about it,” said Alex Rushdy from 13AM Games. “We’ll get this game done.”

The studio has developed Runbow, Double Cross and Dawn of the Monsters. Their team comes from a variety of diverse backgrounds – creative advertising, civil engineering, film, writing, graphic design, programming—to make video games, the one thing they’re all passionate about. They believe games should be as fun to play as they are to make. 

“The Indie Series has been a fantastic collaboration between Ubisoft and National Bank for a number of years, and a way we can directly support the Ontario video game industry,” said Matthew Persram, Director, Creative Industries, National Bank. “We understand that some of today’s biggest video game studios all started off with an idea – that first project that they wanted to work on. It’s very important for us to be there for those early projects – to add guidance, potentially provide funding and show support at the grassroots level.” 

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A Vibrant Video Game Ecosystem 

The Ubisoft Indie Series is a Canadian initiative part of the Ubisoft Entrepreneurs program, which supports the growth of local entrepreneurs in the technology and entertainment industries with mentorship, expertise, grants and funding. 

This year’s shortlisted studios included: 13AM Games, Bloom Digital Media, Lithic Entertainment, Play Underground Games! and TITAN1STUDIOS. 

“Every year, the studios that participate in the Indie Series demonstrate the vitality and creativity of Ontario’s video game industry,” said Julien Lavoie, director of corporate affairs for Ubisoft’s Canadian studios. “We’re immensely proud to play a role in helping this ecosystem grow and thrive. When games from Ontario are successful, we all win.”  

Since the program’s launch in 2016, there have been 15 Ontario winners and $575,000 in cash prizes given out. Past winners include Rocket Adrift, Thousand Stars Studio, Achimostawinan Games, SYSTEM PANIC, Mermaid Heavy Industries, Killjoy Games, Vivid Foundry, Kitten Cup Studio, GLOAM, WashBear Studio, Alientrap Games, Falling Squirrel and Reptoid Games. 

For updates on the Indie Series in Ontario as well as other programs and initiatives, follow Ubisoft Toronto on LinkedIn, Instagram and X 

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