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Day of the Devs is going independent

Double Fine's Day of the Devs is spinning off into a nonprofit operation and moving its San Francisco event to early March.

Bryant Francis

January 29, 2024

3 Min Read
The Day of the Devs logo with the words "Non-Profit Fundraiser."
Image via Day of the Devs.

At a Glance

  • Indie game festival and showcase Day of the Devs started as a free expo hosted by Double Fine.
  • 11 years after it first debuted, the festival will now be run by an independent nonprofit organization.

Beloved indie game showcase Day of the Devs is striking out on its own. The Double Fine-run event that marked a new era in indie game marketing will now be organized by a standalone nonprofit organization by the same name in a shift that separates it from any affiliation with Microsoft, which acquired Double Fine in 2019.

Day of the Devs announced the move alongside a fundraising campaign intended to raise money for operating its multiple events. It's also confirmed that its San Francisco event is moving to March 17 from its previous date in November, with a fan-driven event at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art on March 18. It will continue to showcase games alongside Geoff Keighley's bi-annual events; Summer Game Fest in June and The Game Awards in December.

Speaking to Game Developer, Day of the Devs head curator Greg Rice explained that shifting to a not-for-profit model allows the event to formally embrace the informal nonprofit model it's had since its inception. "It makes it easier for our fundraising [efforts] to be more transparent and open up new routes of fundraising for us," Rice said.

He pointed to the fact that donations and sponsorships of Day of the Devs will now count as tax writeoffs—a boon for many nonprofits in the United States that can also drive deliberate fundraising drives. That funding may eventually go to hire full-time staffers who can spend all-year round working on the event.

Rice and fellow Day of the Devs organizer James Spafford (who will still pull double duty as Double Fine's president of marketing) said the move helps maintain the festival's independent identity, shaking off any perception it's owned by Microsoft. "It's about optics," Spafford said. "People see Double Fine as part of Xbox, so they saw Day of the Devs as part of Xbox, when it should really be a platform agnostic thing."

Day of the Devs is picking up new tools to support Devs

Rice and Spafford also laid out how the new March events support its continued mission to provide plug-and-play resources for indie game marketing. Because the event lands on the Sunday before Game Developers Conference, organizers can invite developers to show their games in-person who have already travelled to San Francisco for the bigger show.

Organizers are also taking advantage of the new event to unroll a showcase for more artistically-inclined event at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. The March 18 event gives a spotlight to slower-paced, artistically inclined games.

Rice said he's been working with the MoMA for the last half-decade, helping them curate and display games and interactive art in the museum proper. "MoMA brings a lot of weight in the art world," he said. "I think that that's the thing that we've always been really passionate about: games as art, [games] that are really pushing the medium forward visually and mechanically."

Developers will be able to show gameplay and discuss their artistic process in the museum's theater, freeing them from the minute-to-minute marketing pitch that comes with an expo showcase. It plays on what Rice discussed with us in late 2023, about how game events can take on specific roles to uniquely showcase their games.

This move from Day of the Devs makes for an interesting shift in the video game event landscape after the collapse of E3, which previously dominated game marketing in the month of June.

It speaks to how game marketing is atomizing and diversifying, with developers now having to identify which events will be worthwhile on their schedule. Smaller developers have been particularly impacted by this shift, as they have fewer opportunities to ride the marketing wave brought by bigger games.

GDC and Game Developers Conference are sibling organizations under Informa Tech. This article has been updated to correctly state this event will take place the weekend before GDC.

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About the Author(s)

Bryant Francis

Senior Editor, GameDeveloper.com

Bryant Francis is a writer, journalist, and narrative designer based in Boston, MA. He currently writes for Game Developer, a leading B2B publication for the video game industry. His credits include Proxy Studios' upcoming 4X strategy game Zephon and Amplitude Studio's 2017 game Endless Space 2.

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