Indiecade’s Bizarre Rejection of Race the Sun

Race the Sun came out the other month and, if you believe everything you read, it’s pretty fantastic.  Unfortunately it hasn’t set the sales world on fire, as noted in Flipply’s blog post from 9/17.  The post got a bit of attention and it’s been a week since, so maybe they got a well-deserved sales bump from the publicity, but at the time they’d sold 771 copies.  That’s a pretty sad take for a game that does so much right and is so fantastically replayable, but the game isn’t on Steam, and in fact is only currently available from the Flippfly web site, so there are a few distribution issues being addressed.  They’re working on getting on Amazon, GOG, and Desura, and the Steam Greenlight page could really use your positive vote.  However!

One thing in the blog post struck a particularly sour note, and that was the rejection from IndieCade.  It’s worth noting that it’s an excerpt from the e-mail, and maybe in context it’s not quite so bad, but it’s hard to imagine how.

I really appreciated the simple 3d visual design, and the progression was very well tuned. Also, procedurally generated levels … are a nice touch. However, this genre of game is fairly well played out. I hope you are releasing it for iOS and Android.

At the IndieCade E3 booth they featured a zombie survival game (The Dead Linger), an FPS (Tower of Guns), and a visualizer (Soundself).  There was a 2D platformer (6180 The Moon), a 3D puzzle-platformer (C3), and even a massively-multiplayer action game (Guns of Icarus Online).  But a game that’s a unique take on the endless runner, turning it into a full-featured arcade game with no free-to-play elements, is “fairly well played out”.  Yeah, no.

Genre is an irrelevancy.  It doesn’t matter, beyond personal taste.  I don’t like sports games, which means in a festival of games based on my personal preferences FIFA wouldn’t get a spot.  In a festival of games celebrating the creativity of the indie scene, however, Sportsfriends earns its place due to the creativity it invests in the variety of ways it makes people interact, compete, and cooperate.  The genre a game is pigeonholed into in order to more easily describe it doesn’t automatically disqualify it from being worth consideration.

Race the Sun takes the endless runner and turns it from the kind of timewaster you’d play on a bus to help tune out the outside world into a game worth playing in its own right.  The challenge changes every day, making for endless replay opportunities.  It’s got a unique look that enhances the gameplay perfectly, leading to a sense of speed that can leave you hanging on for dear life while at the same time searching for a speed boost, hoping to push the sun just a little bit higher into the sky.  There may be a good number of reasons to reject Race the Sun from the IndieCade Festival, but genre isn’t one of them.  If that’s considered a valid reason for rejection then IndieCade needs to have a long, serious internal debate about what it’s trying to accomplish.