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Swiss studio wins Universal GameDev Contest

Gbanga awarded $150,000 and one-year consulting contract with Universal for Voltron: Cubes of Olkarion

Zurich-based mixed reality developer Gbanga has been awarded $150,000 for first place in the Universal GameDev challenge.

Along with the prize money, Gbanga will receive a year-long consulting contract with Universal.

Sponsored by Intel and Microsoft, the contest was launched by Unity in March this year.

It offered studios the chance to develop games based on Back To The Future, Battlestar Galactica, Jaws, DreamWorks Voltron Legendary Defender, and Turok.

Out of the 550 submissions, Gbanga took first top prize for its game Voltron: Cubes of Olkarion.

The judging panel included Back to the Future co-creator, co-writer and co-producer Bob Gale, and Voltron Legendary Defender executive producer Lauren Montgomery.

The game was selected based on the "instant playability of the game prototype", it's commercial potential, and overall fun factor.

Five other developers were awarded $20,000 each in prizes. The runners up were: Mick Heijkens (Backpack to the Future), Tom Breuer (Back to the Future IV - Time Anomalies), Alexander Ferguson (Turok: Legacy of Stone), Max Snyder (Turok: Escape from Lost Valley) and From the Future (Battlestar Galactica Deception).

"The response we received for the GameDev Challenge was very impressive," said Chris Hearthley, Universal executive vice president for games and digital platforms.

"We received pitches from hundreds of studios interested in working with our intellectual properties, and we were overwhelmed by the talent and passion that was on display.

"Given that our six finalists only had two months to pull together a polished prototype of their proposed game, the end results were incredible."

Shortly after the contest was announced at GDC this year, both Unity and Universal were accused of using it to get free labour for designing prototypes.

"Our intent with the GameDev Challenge is to break down the barriers to working with big IP and make it accessible to a wider range of developers than ever before," Hearthley told at the time.

"We think this removes a lot of the hurdles and makes it easier for developers large and small to work with us."

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Ivy Taylor: Ivy joined in 2017 having previously worked as a regional journalist, and a political campaigns manager before that. They are also one of the UK's foremost Sonic the Hedgehog apologists.
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