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The Ouya Saga continues. Indie developers in trouble as Ouya backs out of $1 million fund

Well if the Ouya saga hasn’t been interesting enough for you as of late, today’s news will certainly get your interested and quite possibly not in a good way. After Razer confirmed that the purchase of the Ouya company, mainly the software and the development team, news is now out that the company is backing out of their promised $1 million fund for indie developers.

Back when Ouya was appearing strong to the world, the company made a promise regarding a million dollars that indie developers would be able to get a piece of should they met a couple of requirements including launching their new game on Ouya. Developers also had to have a successful Kickstarter campaign as well, which was basically a means for Ouya to get the developers to announce that their game was coming to the Ouya console. While that wasn’t the main goal, it was a big side effect. The main goal was to get developers building games for Ouya.

You may remember the fund. We reported on it when it was announced. It’s called the Free The Games Fund.

However shortly after the launch of the fund, it became quite clear that it wasn’t working. This was mainly due to people taking advantage of the system and the rules were eventually change to combat this. The plan was to have developers launch a Kickstarter campaign for their game they were working on, announcing that it would be coming to Ouya. The campaign had to be a success, meaning that their funding goal was reached. The minimum was $50,000 and the max was $250,000. Should you successfully get your Ouya game funded on Kickstarter, Ouya would match the amount of your funding goal with money from the Free The Games fund.

Once the rules were changed to prevent developers for gaming the system, the whole thing actually started to work well. Fast-forward to today and developers are saying that Ouya is refusing to pay them the money they were supposed to get from this fund. The reason is due to a clause that was put into the terms of the fund which developers had to agree to in order to participate.

8.3. Termination Upon Bankruptcy or Insolvency. Either party may, at its option, terminate this Agreement immediately upon written notice to the other party, in the event (i) that the other party becomes insolvent or unable to pay its debts when due; (ii) the other party files a petition in bankruptcy, reorganization or similar proceeding, or, if filed against, such petition is not removed within sixty (60) days after such filing; (iii) the other party discontinues it business

With the way this is worded, and how the whole thing was structured, it means that even after two years there are teams who have yet to even receive all their money, and now that Ouya has been bought out, there is almost no hope in getting it. This is how it was structured regarding the money payout to developers who qualified for a piece of the fund:

  • 50% of the cash was to be given when the game released a playable beta
  • 25% when the game launched
  • The last 25% when the exclusivity period was up.

Ouya has literally told the developers who qualified but are still owed money not to expect the rest now that Razer owns Ouya. Multiple developers have been affected by this in different sections of development of their game that they qualified with.

Claiming OUYA no longer exists as a company to get out of funding commitments, while continuing to use the name in the announcements today as if they still are a company that exists, just stinks. I think Razer will have trouble ahead if this is the level of respect they continue to show indie devs. – Developer #1

They paid the first installment when we submitted our beta. I’ve been working on bring the game to release expecting to attain the remaining two installments but that won’t happen now. It’s hard to ask for final artwork needed when I can’t pay my artist now, much less advertise upon release. – Developer #2

Developer #1 was currently in the middle of contacting and hiring musicians for their game, which they can now not pay for. Developer #2 can’t get their final artwork for their game. No art equals no game.

Apparently Ouya is stating that because the company no longer exists that they no have no obligation to pay any of the promised money owing to developers. Developer #2 went on to further state that after a contract was signed on June 5th for this, that they were told things had changed. A month later they received a call via Skype:

July 8th I get a Skype call saying since the company does not exist, they have no obligation to hold their end of the deal and of course I’m no longer required to exclusively release (thanks Ouya). I ask about publishing on Razer, but haven’t gotten anything definitive out of them on who to contact at Razer or if Razer is really interested.

Sadly whenever we have contacted Ouya regarding anything that may not be in a positive light, we rarely get an answer from them and when we do, it is usually a generic statement not really explaining anything. We will be contacting Razer to see if they plan to do anything to help these developers out and who they can contact about their game being on the Razer store for Forge TV. We will post an update if/when we hear back from either company.

In the meantime, if you are a developer affected by this, do contact us (email on this page here) and tell us your story. You will remain completely anonymous if you so wish.

Website Referenced: Polygon

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