Japan's BitSummit indie festival hosts 5,000 people, 130 developers

Japan's BitSummit festival is a three-day showcase of indie games from the region and around the world, and this year it attracted 5,000 attendees, developers, publishers and press from March 7 - 9. BitSummit 2014 hosted 130 developers, three times as many as it had last year.

During the show, Keiji Inafune announced his new 3DS project, Azure Striker: Gunvolt, in collaboration with Mega Man 9 studio Inti Creates. It's due out on the Japanese eShop in the summer, with a North American date on the horizon. The Behemoth co-sponsored BitSummit 2014, and studio founder John Baez provided a keynote, as did Lumines studio founder and ex-Sega head, Tetsuya Mizuguchi. Musical acts included Super Hexagon's Chipzel, PixelJunk Eden's Baiyon and Panzer Dragoon's Saori Kobayashi.

BitSummit 2014 included the festival's first-ever awards show. First-place winners were, in part, Flying Carpets Games (The Girl and the Robot) for Narrative Design, Onion Games (Million Onion Hotel) for Public Choice and Media Choice, Team Poyhaymen (Graffiti Ninja) for Visual Design, and Vitei, Inc. (The Modern Zombie Taxi Driver) for the Grand Jury Prize.

Japan's indie scene is garnering more mainstream attention, as last year's Tokyo Game Show debuted the Indie Game Area, and we took a tour of all the wild, worldwide games.

Check out all of the BitSummit 2014 developers on the festival's site.
[Image: BitSummit]
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BitSummit MMXIV™ A Smashing Success

The people, they came; the games, they played

For immediate release

Kyoto, Japan (Mar. 10, 2014) BitSummit MMXIV saw, over the course of three action-packed days, a

grand total of over 5,000 visitors, developers, publishers, and media. Boasting nearly 130 developers from

within Japan and around the globe (roughly three times as many development teams as featured at

BitSummit MMXIII) the Kyoto-based event drew thousands of visitors over the weekend, and brought with

it a number of surprises and announcements. Besides a star-studded musical lineup featuring Masaya

Matsuura (NanaOn-Sha), Baiyon (PixelJunk Eden, Little Big Planet), Chipzel (Super Hexagon), Takayuki

Nakamura (Lumines), Saori Kobayashi (Panzer Dragoon), Yumiko Takahashi (Suikoden II), Manami

Matsumae (Mighty No. 9), and the Famicom-helmeted Professor Sakamoto, BitSummit MMXIV also

featured keynotes from synaesthesia advocated, Tetsuya Mizuguchi, and Behemoth founder, John Baez.

Additionally, the event featured a popular roundtable between indie figureheads Yoshiro Kimura (Onion

Games), ZUN (Team Shanghai Alice), and Takumi Naramura (La-Mulana 2), and finally, a presentation by

Kickstarter's Luke Crane, who debriefed the audience on the possibilities of crowd-funding. Mr. Crane was

ultimately joined onstage by Keiji Inafune and Takumi Naramura, both beneficiaries of successful

Kickstarter campaigns.

On hand to usher in the world debut of new game announcements was Takuya Aizu (Inti Creates) and Keiji

Inafune (Comcept) with their game Azure Striker Gunvolt, a new downloadable platform/action game for

3DS, as well as Hiroki Tomino and Eiji Seko of Dracue (Gunhound EX) who revealed their surprise remake

of Assault Suit Leynos for PlayStation 4. Other notable highlights included a presentation surrounding

FYTO's realization of Kenji Eno's 'final' game design, KakeXun.

This BitSummit also saw the introduction of its first ever awards ceremony. Created to inspire Japanese

game developers to greater levels of accomplishment, BitSummit MMXIV's award winners showcased a

welcome diversity of game styles and finesse. The winners and runners-up are as follows (listed as Team

Name/Game Name):

Visual Design

1st place: Team Poyhaymen (Graffiti Ninja)

2nd place: Visiontrick Media (Pavilion)

Game Design

1st place: Little Big MMO (Gangs of Space)

2nd place: Funktronic Labs (Nova-111)

Audio Design

1st place: Winning Blimp (Stratolith)

2nd place: Onion Games (Million Onion Hotel)

Narrative Design

1st place: Flying Carpets Games (The Girl and the Robot)

2nd place: Artifacts (Magic Potion Stories)

Möbius Strip Prize for Innovation

1st place: Riki (Kira Kira Star)

2nd place: Japanese Flash Game Developers & Mogera.jp (Google Shucocoooco)

Media Choice

1st place: Onion Games (Million Onion Hotel)

2nd place: Grounding, Inc. (Machi-Koro)

Public Choice

1st place: Onion Games (Million Onion Hotel)

2nd place: Silver Second (One Way Heroics)

Lifetime Achievement Award

1st place: Dracue Co., Ltd (Assault Suit Leynos)

2nd place: Nigoro (La-Mulana 2)

Vermillion Gate Award (Grand Jury)

1st place: Vitei, Inc. (The Modern Zombie Taxi Driver)

2nd place (tie): Riki (Kira Kira Star), Funktronic Labs (Nova-111), Inti Creates (Azure Striker

In all, BitSummit MMXIV was a resounding success. Every day brought new surprises, and a surprising

diversity of visitors ranging from hardcore gamers to families and their kids. If anything, this indie event

proved that even in Japan, where consumers usually prefer familiar franchises over new IPs, that the work

of unknown, independent developers can generate significant interest. As the BitSummit Organization

Committee refreshes and prepares to plan for the next iteration of this ever-changing, ever-evolving event,

we are encouraged to know that if we build it, the people will come.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.