So, I happened to be wandering around U.S. discount store Big Lots! the other day, and what should I find, but a U.S. retail copy of Introversion's IGF Grand Prize winner Darwinia, as published by 'boutique indie' publishing label Cinemaware Marquee?

So I thought I'd take a few pictures of the game's packaging (including a mini-poster and a Darwinian keychain!), and talk about its valiant - but ultimately failed - attempt to do the indie thing at retail in the States.

So here's the box - particularly fun/interesting because it brings together the logos of the classic Defender Of The Crown creator with 'last of the bedroom programmers' Introversion.

We originally reported on this back in April 2006 - when Cinemaware Marquee, which is an eGames publishing label, announced they were picking up the game - which is also available digitally on Steam, of course.

eGames bought Cinemaware after the 'relaunched from bankruptcy court' developer faltered with its attempts to relaunch its franchises on console - see Robin Hood: Defender Of The Crown, for example.

It has to be said that Cinemaware Marquee - which tried to add 'feelies' and special edition-like add-ons to the PC indie titles it published - was trying to do something genuinely different, also signing titles like Space Rangers 2 for North American distribution.

Unfortunately, major outlets in the ilk of Wal-Mart and Target are chief targets for PC retail nowadays, and these titles just weren't 'casual' or accessible enough to compete, despite the nicely designed packaging (complete with IGF logo!) and added 'feelies'.

Therefore, the first set of Cinemaware Marquee titles - largely released in 2006 - appear to have been the last. Nowadays, according to recent financial results, eGames is still using some Cinemaware IP like the evergreen 'Defender Of The Crown', it seems to be doing just as well or better with casual PC titles - often digitally distributed - like 'Burger Island' and 'Puzzle City'.

So there you go - proof positive that indie games, while relatively flourishing in digital form, just don't seem to work financially in mass-market physical form in the States, at least on PC.

Which is a shame, because physical product - especially with cute things like Darwinian keychains - are kinda awesome. Still, roll on Darwinia+/Multiwinia on XBLA, eh?