The 2014 Developers' Showdown pits indie developers versus AAA in a fight to the death.
The battle has begun. March Mayhem is our annual event in which The Escapist pits game developers head to head in bracket style matchups. You get to vote on which developer you think performed better in 2013, and the winner goes on to face another opponent in the next round. This year, we've concentrated on giving independent developers a chance against the larger studios. Will Lucas Pope of Papers Please be able to beat it out against the likes of BioWare or Naughty Dog? Only you can decide!
Voting is open in the first round right now! Head over to the official bracket page to cast your votes.
If you're unsure about a developer or their games, feel free to do some research. And as always, you can hash it out in the forums dedicated to March Mayhem 2014.
Here are some of the more notable matchups in the first round of voting:
(1) Valve Corporation vs. (4) Irrational Games
Irrational Games recently announced it was closing down, so this matchup it the last hurrah for Ken Levine's company. BioShock Infinite may have not been your pick for Game of the Year 2013, but it was on a lot of people's lists and was certainly discussed heavily be critics and fans alike for its portrayal of racist characters and alternate realities. Irrational has made some very thought-provoking games, and that deserves to be recognized.
It's up against Valve, which received the most attention last year for its hardware and OS announcements, not its games. That said, Dota 2 is an excellent MOBA, and rivals games like SMITE and League of Legends for views on Twitch and participation by professional gamers. Valve has also fared extremely well in past March Mayhem competitions, winning in 2010 and 2012.
(1) TellTale Games vs. (4) Mojang
TellTall Games may have finally hit its stride. The company was built around providing episodic adventure games, and 2012's The Walking Dead was a masterpiece that finally placed the company in the forefront of the gaming industry. In 2013, TellTale followed up with A Wolf Among Us, based on another series of comic books, and the second season of The Walking Dead. And while we've yet to see the conclusions of those series, what we have played lives up to the company's now very high standard of excellence.
Mojang won gamers' hearts and March Mayhem 2011 with the just the beta release of Minecraft. The Swedish independent studio is built around the mind of Markus "Notch" Persson but he is now surrounded by an amazing team of developers making games. Scrolls hasn't technically released yet, but its open beta in 2013 has been very popular and the various editions of Minecraft continue to captivate gamers on PC and consoles alike.
(3) 4A Games vs. (2) Galactic Cafe
Metro Last Light was a dark horse candidate for Best Shooter of 2013 in The Escapist offices. That game revealed 4A Games was not some fly-by-night outfit, it had some serious chops to bring to the table in atmospheric shooters that let you feel like you were surviving in a different world. The fact that the developers are in Kiev, Ukraine, and have been observing the political trouble there first hand, should have no bearing on your voting for them in March Mayhem. Or should it?
Instead of immersing yourself in gaming, Galactic Cafe's The Stanley Parable called attention to the conventions of the medium through a satirical lens. The narrator explains which of the binary choices the main character of Stanley should select, and gets annoyed when the player doesn't comply. Critics such as our own reviews editor Jim Sterling loved the premise and execution of The Stanley Parable, even if he didn't actually explain why. The short game was an important step in the maturation of the games medium, because if you can't laugh at yourself, you're probably taking yourself too seriously.
Head over to the March Mayhem 2014 page to vote in these and the other matchups now! All you have to do is click on the developers' names and a pop-up will appear with voting instructions. Have fun!
And may the best AAA or Indie developer of 2014 win.