Chances are you’re trapped inside right now. I am, here in San Francisco, and while nothing can truly dispel the anxiety that stems from the current global situation, video games can certainly help mitigate the boredom. Luckily, you’re about to get a lot of free video games—or at least a lot of demos—thanks to the Steam Game Festival: Spring Edition.
It’s the second Steam Game Festival, following on from the one last December. Geoff Keighley helped organize that first iteration as a promotion for his annual Game Awards showcase, calling it a “a first-of-its-kind digital consumer event that brings the magic of hands-on gameplay demos to fans around the world.” People could download and trial about a dozen games, including SkateBird, System Shock, Eastward, Spiritfarer, and more.
With GDC and E3 both canceled due to the coronavirus, Steam and Keighley joined forces again to host a second Steam Game Festival with games “from studios who missed out on the chance to demo their games at showcases like Indie Megabooth, Day of the Devs, and The MIX”—and this one’s a hell of a lot bigger. More than 40 games are available to demo for the duration of the event, and you’ll have from now until 10 a.m. Pacific on March 23 to sample them. That should tide you over until Half-Life: Alyx, eh?
Here’s a long (yet partial) list of games that will have demos available during the Steam Spring Game Festival. Other demos will also be available, and Valve tells us that yet more games will be featured with content that isn’t demos:
- Klang 2 by Tinimations
- Aeolis Tournament by Beyond Fun Studio
- Embr by Muse Games
- Divisadero by Lewandowski Brothers
- Retrograde Arena by Freemergency / Another Indie
- Eldest Souls by Fallen Flag Studio / United Label
- Röki by Polygon Treehouse / United Label
- Haven by The Game Bakers
- Raji: An Ancient Epic by Nodding Heads / Super.com
- Operencia: The Stolen Sun by Zen Studios
- Spiritfarer by Thunder Lotus
- She Dreams Elsewhere by Studio Zevere
- KungFu Kickball by WhaleFood Games / Blowfish Studios
- Coffee Talk by Toge Productions
- When The Past Was Around by Mojiken Studio / Toge Productions
- Rising Hell by Tahoe Games / Toge Productions / Another Indie
- A Space for the Unbound by Mojiken Studio / Toge Productions
- Mighty Fight Federation by Komi Games Inc.
- Jay and Silent Bob: Mall Brawl by Interabang Entertainment
- Liberated by Atomic Wolf / L.inc / Walkabout
- Recompile by Phigames / Dear Villagers
- HyperParasite by Troglobytes Games, S.L. / HoundPicked
- Duster by Coldrice Games
- Backworlds by Logic Ember Limited
- Quench by Axon Interactive Inc
- We Are The Caretakers by Heart Shaped Games LLC
- Mystic Pillars by Holy Cow Productions
- Sons of Ra by Pharaoh Hound Games
- Evan’s Remains by maitan69 / Whitethorn Digital
- Filament by Beard Envy Ltd / Kasedo Games
- Neon Noodles by Vivid Helix
- We should talk. by Insatiable Cycle LLC / Whitethorn Digital
- Later Daters by Bloom Digital Media
- Pushy and Pully in Blockland by Resistance Studio
- Chicory by Greg Lobanov / Finji
I’m curious to see where this goes in the future. Events like GDC, E3, and PAX have long been the only way to get hands-on time with games before release, but Keighley’s already out there saying he wants the Steam Game Festival to be a permanent fixture. “We’ll have more editions of the Festival throughout the year to connect gamers around the world to content you can play at home,” he tweeted on Tuesday.
Sure, it’s doubtful this sort of at-home demo is a workable solution for the sorts of tentpole releases we’d usually demo behind-closed-doors at E3. Those builds are usually poorly optimized and buggy and developers don’t want everyone to see the rough edges. Just look at how reticent CD Projekt was to release footage of Cyberpunk 2077, let alone a playable build.
But for indies? I imagine this gets a lot more word-of-mouth than trying to fight for eyes at the Indie Megabooth. I’m excited to see how it evolves, and excited to try out a few games given that I was—in happier times—supposed to be at GDC this week. Silver lining: At least now I have plenty of time.