Apple has launched a new section on the front page of the iTunes App Store highlighting nominees and finalists in the third annual Independent Games Festival Mobile competition.

IGF Mobile, now in its third year, is a sister event to the Independent Games Festival that celebrates excellence in games for Apple's iPhone, other cellphone and smartphone operating systems (OS), Nintendo DS, Sony PlayStation Portable, and other handheld devices.

The Cupertino-based iPhone creator is prominently featuring the IGF Mobile titles at least partly because four of the five category winners in this year's event were developed for the iPhone and iPod Touch platforms, including:

- Technical Achievement: Stair Dismount (Secret Exit)
- Audio Achievement: Lilt Line (Different Cloth)
- Achievement in Art: Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP (Superbrothers, Capy, Jim Guthrie -- Unreleased)
- Best iPhone Game: Spider: The Secret of Bryce Manor (Tiger Style Games)

The Best Mobile Game Design award went to Powerhead Games' Nintendo DSiWare title Glow Artisan, not currently available for Apple's hardware.

All category winners will compete for the $2,500 Best Mobile Game prize at the main IGF Awards, to be held next Thursday during Game Developers Conference 2010 and streamed live on GameSpot.com.

Other IGF Mobile finalists honored in Apple's limited-timed spotlight feature, in the second year that the firm has included such a sales-boosting showcase on the front page of the App Store, include:

- Drop7 (Area/Code)
- Guerrilla Bob (Chillingo)
- SCVNGR (SCVNGR)
- Tumbledrop (Starfruit Games)
- Zombie Pizza (Appy Entertainment)

In addition, Apple also featured a number of the iPhone-specific games which received honorable mentions from the IGF Mobile judges, including the following titles:

- Aera (iChromo)
- Ancient Frog (Ancient Workshop)
- Doodle Jump (Lima Sky)
- Earth Dragon (Chaim Gingold)
- iBlast Moki (Godzilab)
- Mind Wall (Robinson Technologies)
- Minigore (Chillingo)
- Pocket God (Bolt Creative)

Each of the five IGF Mobile category winners will be playable at the IGF Pavilion on the GDC show floor from Thursday March 11th to Saturday March 13th, and a special 'IGF Mobile Showcase' session on Wednesday 10th during the GDC Mobile/Handheld Summit will include some of the creators discussing the making of the games.

More information on IGF Mobile finalists, category winners and honorable mentions across all platforms are available at the official Independent Games Festival Mobile website.