Congrats to Rocket Adrift and Thousand Stars Studio, our 2023 Ubisoft Indie Series winners presented by National Bank!
Rocket Adrift has been named the Ontario Grand Prize winner, taking home the $50,000 Grand Prize. Thousand Stars Studio is the 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.
Watch the highlights from the 2023 Ubisoft Indie Series Award Ceremony:
Ubisoft Indie Series Ontario Grand Prize Winner: Rocket Adrift
Game designers Sloane Smith, Lindsay Rollins, and Titus McNally formed Rocket Adrift with a mission to tell personal narratives that highlight LGBTQIA+ and BIPOC experiences and depict Canadian culture through an outsider’s lens.
The studio’s game, Psychroma, is a narrative-driven side-scroller where you play as a digital medium. Confront the past by piecing together the broken memories of a cybernetic house and exorcise the ghosts in the machine. Experience a narrative rich with themes of trauma, violence and restorative justice. Rather than centering the gameplay around survival, the player is challenged to empathize with the ghosts of the past using unique mechanics in order to progress.
“It’s amazing to have this opportunity and to get mentorship – so thank you to Ubisoft, National Bank, and the group that we’re partnered with, Gamma Space and Weird Ghosts, for their funding as well,” said Sloane Smith from Rocket Adrift. “This is going to help make our game!”
National Bank Special Prize Winner: Thousand Stars Studio
Thousand Stars Studio is a Toronto-based design studio that creates immersive video games and interactive experiences. Co-founded by Sally Luc and Parth Soni in August 2017, the studio aims to create story-driven imaginative games with a multi-cultural approach. The studio’s titles include Botabot and Milkyway VR.
“Thank you for this prize,” said Sally Luc from Thousand Stars Studio. “It’s been really hard working as a small indie studio as many of you could probably see, and it’s nice to know and validate that this is one step forward for us!”
“We’re thrilled to award Thousand Stars Studio this year’s National Bank Special Prize winner,” said Igor Shkala, manager of financing solutions at National Bank. “We want to genuinely congratulate all the finalists, and we thank you for your continued innovation, vision, leadership and creativity.”
About the Ubisoft Indie Series
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.
“A massive congratulations to Rocket Adrift, Thousand Stars Studio and to all of our finalists.” said Andy Schmoll, jury chair and senior game designer at Ubisoft Toronto. “We’re consistently blown away by the imagination, skill and tenacity of the indie studios here in Ontario, and it’s wonderful to see how the industry continues to evolve and grow year after year.”
This year’s shortlisted studios included: Thousand Stars Studio, Rocket Adrift, Computechnosoft, MANGLEDmaw Games, Alientrap Games, Insanity CORR Ltd., Kitten Cup Studio, Code Blue Games, Shmowie Games and Pushing Vertices.
The 2023 award ceremony was the first in-person event for the competition in three years and featured an engaging showcase of past winners and a cocktail mixer with the finalists, previous winners, and industry and government partners.
Supporting Ontario’s Entrepreneurs
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.
“Every studio that’s submitted this year continues to demonstrate what makes Ontario a global leader in the video game industry – its ingenuity, innovation, and originality,” said Julien Lavoie, director of corporate affairs at Ubisoft Toronto. “Ontario indie studios continue to put the province on the map, and are playing a fundamental role in growing a resilient and successful industry here.”
Since the program’s launch in 2016, there have been 13 Ontario winners and $500,000 in cash prizes given out. Past winners include Achimostawinan Games, SYSTEM PANIC, Mermaid Heavy Industries, Killjoy Games, Vivid Foundry, Kitten Cup Studio, GLOAM, WashBear Studio, Alientrap Games, Falling Squirrel and Reptoid Games.