Ubisoft Indie Series: A Chat with 2024 Winners Play Underground Games! and 13AM Games

Last week at Ubisoft Toronto’s west-end studio, the eighth annual Ubisoft Indie Series handed out a combined $75,000 and a wealth of mentorship to two Ontario indie studios.

Newly minted studio Play Underground Games! was awarded the 2024 Ubisoft Indie Series Grand Prize – taking home $50,000 – with 13AM Games (Dawn of the Monsters, Runbow) bagging the National Bank Special Prize worth $25,000. Both teams will also receive advice and mentorship from experts at Ubisoft and National Bank.

Projects from five different studios, including PUG! And 13AM, as well as runners-up Bloom Digital Media, Lithic Entertainment, and TITAN1STUDIOS, were reviewed by a jury of industry experts, including Ubisoft’s Andy Schmoll, Billy Gregory, Navid Khavari, Fotis Prasinis, Matt Woelk, and National Bank’s Matthew Persram.

Speaking at the event, Ubisoft Toronto’s Emily Claire Afan – Strategic Partnerships & Programs Lead – and Julien Lavoie – Director of Corporate Affairs – discussed the importance of the Indie Series program to the studio and talked about its impact on the larger Ontario games ecosystem.

“We’ve seen some fantastic games that have gone through this program go onto new heights after having benefited from the mentorship and the cash prize that we’ve been able to award,” Lavoie said. 

“The reason that we do this is that we all succeed when everyone else has success. When one of our indie brothers or sisters wins or succeeds commercially or otherwise, that’s something that’s good for all of Ontario, it’s good for all of us. It creates capacity in the province, it creates skills that others will be able to benefit from, and it puts Ontario on the map as a great place to be creative, whether it’s in film and TV or video games.”

The Lodgge recently spoke with the Fūnké Joseph of Play Underground Games! – the 2024 Ubisoft Indie Series Grand Prize winner – and Alex Rushdy of 13AM Games – The National Bank Special Prize winner – this week about their big wins, how the teams are feeling, and what comes next.

How are the teams feeling after the Ubisoft Indie Series wins last week?

Fūnké Joseph (Play Underground Games!): Invigorated. We’re just so amped by the fact that we really believed in this and our hard work paid off. It’s an unbelievable feeling. We’re just excited to channel this energy into all of the work we’re doing on our game.

Alex Rushdy (13AM Games): We’re super excited! It feels like some validation for the concept. We’re really honored to receive such positive feedback and be part of such a fantastic event.

13AM Games Ubisoft Indie Series 2024

13AM Games

How will support from these prizes – both monetary and mentorship – help you bring these projects to life?

Fūnké: The prototype is something that we’re incredibly proud of already, but this will help us refine that and set it up so that the game will come out in a fuller way than we could have ever imagined. Taking courses like the Future Fund program with The Hand Eye Society… learning and applying to the IDM Fund from Ontario Creates, and learning more through the [Indie Series] program has made us realize that all of this is a possibility.

These resources are going to be 100% dedicated to stabilizing our team right now. We’ve been doing this on our own time – I have been paying out of pocket and so have a couple of others on the team just to make this happen because we really believe in it. So we really just want to pay the team – pay ourselves for putting in this labour – and set up funds to get all of our documents in the incorporation in order and finalized. 

So now to get support and people believing in us and money for our work, it is incalculable how much that will impact us. It’s huge.

Alex: This really allows us to develop materials and a prototype to get a publisher. I do need to stress that the industry in the last year or so has really shifted and unfortunately securing a publisher has become much more difficult than in years past. This money will absolutely help us secure a high-quality publisher that can help us realize our vision.

Play Underground Games Ubisoft Indie Series 2024

Play Underground Games!

Without spoiling any reveals or planned announcements, is there anything you can tell us about your projects?

Fūnké: It is a game that is about the joy and anguish of creating music and sharing it with others. We’ve been holding our cards closely because we’ve still been trying to figure out how we want to play our cards. You’ll see some stuff about it over the next few months though.

Alex: I can say that we’re really excited about it, and we’ve already received quite a bit of prospective interest in the title. Probably more than any previous title we’ve pitched. I really can’t wait to share more details over the coming months and see how people react to this title!

13AM Games Ubisoft Indie Series 2024

13AM Games

Based on previous Ubisoft Indie Series winners, we’re excited to see what Play Underground Games! and 13AM Games have in store with these two winning projects.

Past winners have included Ontario indie game studios such as Rocket Adrift, Thousand Stars Studio, Achimostawinan Games, Vivid Foundry, Kitten Cup Studio, Alientrap Games, and Reptoid Games, all of whom were able to bring their projects to life thanks to support from the program.

Stay tuned to The Lodgge for updates from Play Underground Games! and 13AM Games.

*These interviews have been edited for length and clarity

Contributed by

Hemanth Kay

Senior Editor at The Lodgge