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Ultimate Game Changers: Uncovering Hidden Talent Across the Globe

by Rafael Vivas on Dec 4, 2019

At Lion Studios we’re all about uncovering and supporting new gaming talent. That was our mission when we launched the Ultimate Game Changers contest last year, and we succeeded with Oliver Eriksson and his winning game, Flip Trickster, which we helped skyrocket to #1 in the App Store charts.

It was due to this success that we decided to bring the contest back as an annual event.

A Truly Global Contest

This year we saw 333 submissions to the Ultimate Game Changers, an increase of more than 100 entries compared to last year’s competition. Not only was there an increase in total number of entries, but we were thrilled to see submissions from every corner of the globe. Developers from 65 countries entered the contest this year, more than double last year’s competition where we saw applicants representing 32 countries. 

The entries to this year’s competition reflect its global reach, with 43% of entrants coming from each EMEA and APAC, with an additional 8% coming from North America, and 5% from LATAM. South Korea topped the list of countries with the most entries at 58, a huge increase from the five entries submitted last year. This is followed by India with 25 submissions, and Russia with 22.

We were overwhelmed by the quality of entries, but had to find four winners:

Tricky Castle, from Russian developer, Aleksandr D. and his team, Team Tricky, claimed the top spot and $150,000 in prize money.

  • 2nd place ($75,000): Flip Tumbling, developed by Bony Y. from Bangladesh
  • 3rd place ($50,000): Corginaut, developed by Alex M. from China
  • 4th place ($25,000): Pogo Loco, developed by Fabian G. from Romania

Of course, it was the potential we saw in the winners’ games that played a large part in their selection, but an unexpected outcome of the contest was learning the unique stories of each of the developers.

Uncovering hidden talent

Third place winner, Alex M., never had a career in game development…until now. 

“Ten years ago I was a florist, then I worked as a bank IT developer,” said Alex. 

For Alex, building games was a hobby that had to fit around his full-time job and looking after his child. It wasn’t until he spotted an ad for the competition on Facebook that he realized there might be a platform to take his hobby to the next level.

Corginaut screenshots

Making time for game development with a busy schedule was also a challenge for Fabian, who came in fourth place. 

“I started making this game over a year ago in my free time. After work, in different countries, in airplanes, buses, friend’s homes,” said Fabian.

“I never had a career in this space. I am mainly a web developer and this was just a hobby for me – but now things are about to change.”

Supporting a new generation of gaming talent

We held last year’s contest to celebrate the launch of Lion Studios and were so impressed by the variety and creativity of entrants, we decided to make it an annual event. Not only have we uncovered four great winners, but have discovered there is incredible talent across the world currently going unnoticed.

In addition to the prize money, all of our winners will receive support on the development of their games from the Lion Studios team. We’re passionate about helping independent game developers in the industry, and we want the Ultimate Game Changers contest to be a platform for our winners to further develop outstanding content 

We think this is just the beginning of the Ultimate Game Changers journey, and hope to hold more frequent contests for indie game developers across the world. 

“For us, winning the prize money gives us the opportunity to improve the quality and content of our games to come,” said first-place winner Aleksandr. 

For second-place winner Bony, the win extends far beyond the financial support offered by the contest. 

“I feel self-validation,” said Bony. “My confidence in my skill has increased and most importantly, I now have a lot less pressure to fund my games and take next course of actions.”

This is just the beginning of our relationships with these developers, and we’re so excited to work with them in the months and years to come. 

Rafael Vivas is President of Lion Studios.