Thanks everyone for your kind words and support! Thanks jcothran for posting this too.
It's exactly why we provided the AiGameDev.com PLUS prize for beating our official bot. Our goal is to give some extra motivation for people entering the contest even if they don't expect to win! We (my wife & I, who run the company) feel it's generally very useful to encourage people who are interested in this field to take it further. We'll probably do the same sponsoring and entering our own bot for various contests, for example at the CIG (Computational Intelligence in Games) and AIIDE (Artificial Intelligence in Digital Entertainment) conferences -- or even our own Paris Game AI Conference in the future.
We believe the content is very useful and interesting, but you will no doubt find out soon enough!
Demerzel, thanks for your cynicism :-) Of course our sponsorship is PR-motivated, but not like you think! Typically, we put more into providing material for students than we get out of it. The reason we do it is because we love what we do and we think it's a fascinating field that people could be interested in, just like the AI Challenge itself. The difference is we'd like to show you how interesting it can be to work on commercial game AI, and not just AI applied to mini-games.
The prizes cannot be "cashed" (it's not a cash prize) and memberships are officially not transferable; if you'd like to donate your prize maybe we can arrange that though. If you're not interested in game AI, that's fine and you can of course continue to enjoy the PlanetWars contest without expecting to get anything.
Best of luck everyone!
Owner & Technical Director
P.S. There's a new version of our official bot almost ready and coming up, but unfortunately I don't have as much time as I'd like to dedicate to it... I guess that's a good thing for you guys though :-)