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Ouya boss defends controversial game fund

Jules Frith September 11, 2013 - 2:31 pm

Ouya defends their Free the Games Fun after accusations that it’s open to abuse, with unhappy reactions from indie devs.

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Ouya has a game fund. It’s called the “Free the Games Fund” (free them from what, I’m not sure) and is supposed to match funding on Kickstarter projects that meet their target, raising between 50k and 250k, as long as those games get to be Ouya exclusive upon launch. With bonuses depending on how much is raised, the most successful of projects can stand to earn around $600,000. That’s what we call ‘Double Fine Numbers’ in the biz (no we don’t).

Perhaps unsurprisingly, controversy has erupted, specifically around two projects, Gridiron Thunder (which was successfully funded to the tune of $171k) and Elementary Mr Holmes (cancelled by Kickstarter after suspicions were raised), which had unsual spikes in funding from relatively few backers, which seemed to suggest the possibility of investors with ties to the developers involved, who were trying to profit from the Ouya fund.

Now Ouya boss Julie Uhrman has taken to the company blog to explain their position on the matter. She wrote: “Recently, the intention behind our Free the Games Fund — to provide additional funding to crowd-funded games bound for OUYA, and enable developers to make more of them — seems to have been lost.” She also said: “In launching this campaign, we’ve been called everything from naive and foolish to crazy and idealistic. This is not the first time we’ve been called any of that. Maybe we’re naive … and YES we’re definitely idealistic. It’s gotten us this far.”

Her determinedly positive outlook on the situation has drawn some ire in the comments, such as Thomas Was Alone’s Mike Bithell, who said: “This reads like a press release from a console company locked into a foolish policy and using aspirational language to shift the blame, weirdly, onto its critics.”

Indie dev Sophie Houlden also chimed in with: “This isn’t even a response, let alone a decent one. You don’t get to keep my game, you don’t get to have any of the games I was looking forward to (or even started) porting to OUYA. But hey you get gridiron thunder.”

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