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In a blog post coinciding with the announcement of the 'XBLA Prize' for the Independent Games Festival, Microsoft's head of first-party publishing for Xbox Live Arcade, Ted Woolsey talks about the multi-year deal and what it means for the firm.

[In a blog post coinciding with the announcement of the 'XBLA Prize' for the Independent Games Festival, Microsoft's head of first-party publishing for Xbox Live Arcade, Ted Woolsey talks about the multi-year deal and what it means for the firm.]

Since it was founded in the mid-1970s, Microsoft has always been passionate about independent development and developers. Back before Xbox, Xbox LIVE and Kinect, back before Office, Windows, and even DOS, Microsoft's first products were programming tools for developers.

We continue to respect and admire the work our developer-partners produce, and one of our main goals as a company is to empower people -- consumers and developers -- to realize their dreams through our technology.

Microsoft Studios invests more than $20 million dollars per year to fund Xbox LIVE Arcade games, which is incremental to what we spend on our internal development support infrastructure. With our business increasing year over year we consider this a smart investment in the ecosystem, and another way we support the independent development community.

In that spirit, we're very excited about our multi-year sponsorship of the Independent Games Festival. The IGF has a deservedly great reputation for work it’s done with independent games and developers.

I think it’s not overstating it to say that the independent development scene wouldn’t be nearly as robust as it is today without the exposure provided by the IGF. We look forward to working with the IGF and having a window into to the huge array of independent games that are submitted every year so that we can continue to find the best games to share with our customers.

A side note here: we greatly respect the IGF and the procedures that are followed in the selection of finalists or winners of their program. We are working closely with the IGF to make sure that there will not be any direct or indirect influence whatsoever on the judges or the selection process for their program. We're here to continue to support independent game makers and find great games!

Playing a role in empowering creative, independent developers, and then delivering the fruits of their labor to a wide fan base on Xbox 360, Windows Phone and soon Windows 8 is an amazingly rewarding job for me and the publishing teams at Microsoft Studios. We can’t wait to see what will come next!

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