Ouya and Developers Respond to Controversy
‘Free the Games’ program provokes response
Published: Monday, September 16, 2013
Updated: Monday, September 16, 2013 12:09
Ouya is winning few friends with its response to scandalous allegations regarding its “Free the Games” program.
The program promises to match the Kickstarter backing of any game promising six months of exclusivity on the Android-based Ouya console between $50,000 and $1 million.
Suspicions were first raised when two games included in the program, “Elementary, My Dear Holmes!” and “Gridiron Thunder” began receiving mysteriously high Kickstarter contributions.
“Gridiron Thunder’s” campaign closed with a total of $171,009 after 30 days. However, the game had just 187 backers. A small number of those pledged over $10,000 each, bringing the average contribution up to $934.48.
According to Joystiq, the next closest game in the past several months in terms of average contribution was Yargis. That campaign reached an average of only $275.05 thanks to a sole pledge of $5000.
Meanwhile, “Elementary, My Dear Holmes!” was successfully funded, but Kickstarter suspended the campaign before money changed hands. The game’s developer expressed concerns to Kickstarter and Amazon (which owns and operates the crowd-funding service).
“When the uproar against ‘Elementary, My Dear Holmes’ was brought up, we contacted Kickstarter and Amazon, asking them to investigate the accounts and take action accordingly,” the game’s creator Sam Chandola told backers. “We wanted to get on top of this and did not want anything to do with any of what was happening as it was an extremely negative campaign for us. Strong personal accusations were going up against us, and it was a huge drain on our time, energy and resources.”
Julie Uhruman, founder of the Ouya, responded to concerns and criticism regarding the project and the subsequent allegations—after a fashion.
“Recently, the intention behind our Free the Games Fund—to provide additional funding to crowdfunded games bound for Ouya and enable developers to make more of them—seems to have been lost,” Uhrman said. “This response surprised us—we thought this was going to be great—how could it not be?”
Uhruman’s response neglects to directly reference “Gridiron Thunder” or “Elementary, My Dear Holmes!” and, other than a single tweet, neither she nor Ouya have made an official statement on the issue.
The response—which was meant to appeal to critics and assuage indie developers—only made things worse.
Sophie Holden launched Rose and Time on Ouya in July. Since Uhruman’s response, she has taken her game off the console’s marketplace.
She said, “It became very apparent to me that the company does not support indie developers who need the support most, and that they are incapable of ever correcting their mistakes. I’m simply no longer comfortable supporting the company.”
Meanwhile, Mike Bithell, developer of indie game Thomas Was Alone commented that it “isn’t an acceptance of criticism, or an explanation of how clearly dodgy as hell schemes are being supported by [Ouya] publicly,” but that it “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.”
Uhruman encourages everyone to continue supporting Free the Games. There are currently nine games with Kickstarter campaigns registered for the deal, not including “Elementary, My Dear Holmes!”