Gamers were uneasy as soon as Ouya announced its Free the Games Fund a few months back. The goal was to encourage the development of Ouya-exclusive games by matching Kickstarter funds over $50,000, and also offering some extra incentives. After some high-profile scandals that brought to light at least one instance of admitted malfeasance, Ouya boss Julie Uhrman has announced some changes.

First and foremost, the cut off for matching funds has been lowered to $10,000. That should bring many more indie game developers into the program. Ouya will also match crowd sourced funding between $10,000 and $250,000. So if the community wants a game more, it gets more money to speed things along.

Next, Ouya is addressing the highly publicized funding issues head-on. The issue pointed out in several of the early Kickstarters was the low number of backers. In some cases the average donation was almost $1,000, indicating a few very large donors were tipping the scales. It looked like astroturfed support to secure the Ouya matching funds, not real community interest. Some projects were suspended, and other weren't. The Free the Games Fund will now require that a game has at least 100 backers for every $10,000 raised.

2013-09-18 17_20_03-Dungeons the Eye of Draconus completion fund  OUYA_Linux_Mac by William McDonald

Ouya's cash also will not be handed over all at once. Under the new plan, developers get this first 50% at the functioning beta stage. This should ensure only real viable projects get the money. Another 25% is dispersed at launch, and another 25% arrives at the end of the exclusivity period. About the exclusivity, Ouya now requires one month of exclusivity for each $10,000 of matching funds, up to six months. The bonus program that would have handed $100,000 to the highest earning campaign is gone completely. However, developers will be free to make a PC version of the game at any point.

Based on the issues so far, these rules seem completely rational, but Ouya is learning the hard way how to get this right. It's hard to say if more problems will crop up before the program has run its course. It turns out people really like free money.


Ryan Whitwam
Ryan is a tech/science writer, skeptic, lover of all things electronic, and Android fan. In his spare time he reads golden-age sci-fi and sleeps, but rarely at the same time. His wife tolerates him as few would.

He's the author of a sci-fi novel called The Crooked City, which is available on Amazon and Google Play.

  • Primalxconvoy

    This still won't convince the big mobile developers to release existing or upcoming triple a mobile content onto the system.

    • Cherokee4Life

      i don't it's geared towards them... I think it's geared toward Indie or newer developers. I don't think EA needs OUYA's money to release a game for Android/OUYA

      • Primalxconvoy

        My point was that ouya needs to encourage existing BIG mobile companies to release popular games onto the OUYA. It needs need for speed, nova 3, angry birds, Asphalt 8, etc.

        • Matthew Fry

          But big industry development isn't really Ouya's target market. It's a $100 dollar console. It's for playing indie games.

          • Primalxconvoy

            I disagree. It is an open system and thus open to all. Why do you think that the most popular "trending now" usually has "Ravensword", "xbmc" and "Shadowgun" (amongst other slicker, more popular apps/games)?

            Ouya needs to get the BIG mobile games onto the system, and then the userbase will expand and then more indie games can reach a larger audience.

            As it stands, Ouya is basically in the same place that Flash gaming on pcs was.

          • mgamerz

            "Open System"
            baahahaha, do you even have an Ouya?

          • Primalxconvoy

            Yes. It is an open system. Perhaps you have a different definition of what an open system is?

          • mgamerz

            Yeah, one where you can unlock the bootloader ("hackability, as the ouya team called it during kickstarter), where you are free to do what you want with the console.

        • JLM

          I'm sure OUYA would like the big games, but those big game developers will only spend the money if they think the community is large enough, or see it growing. OUYA is trying to grow that community by getting people involved. Hopefully a very successful game develops for the OUYA and that would grab the attention of the big game developers.

        • Cherokee4Life

          Personally I don't think OUYA will ever get those big hit games. Partially because every game must be free to play or free trial or something and for some games that would require reprogramming and more work on top of porting over the controls and such. If I was a big name company I wouldn't waste my time with OUYA. Even though I love my OUYA.

          My honest guess is that OUYA is going to turn into a streaming box (XMBC) or a "test enviroment" where new developers release their games to see how it does and then release a full version on the Play Store or something like that.

          For me, everything that OUYA can do now was worth the 100 something bucks I paid when I backed it on Kickstarter.

    • Alm0s

      Good. This is a video game console. It doesn't need mobile content.

      • Primalxconvoy

        I'm not sure if I understand your point. For me, mobile content on a console and vice versa is where I think the gaming and perhaps even the professional/non-gaming software market is heading. The Ouya represents another step in the evolution of convergence software and hardware solutions.

        • Alm0s

          No. Mobile gaming is intrinsically a shallow, unengaging experience compared to core games on PC and dedicated consoles. Those games are meant to be played on the bus, on the toilet, etc., no one goes home after a long day at work, opens a can of beer and starts playing Gameloft games on a smartphone for hours. And Gameloft games are the perfect example of this: they look like AAA titles on the surface, but in reality they offer nothing in terms of gameplay or story compared to a real console game from any era.

          The OUYA may share the same technology with mobile platforms, but the idea behind it is completely different. They want real, engaging games that pin you on your couch all night long. Granted, they don't really have anything quite like this yet, but it's still their ultimate goal. Those ported mobile games are nice to have, because at least they can show something running on the console, but they will never be enough for the OUYA to be successful.

          The recently released Clark is by no means a killer game for the system, but it's a step in the right direction.

          • Primalxconvoy

            I disagree. I myself have sunk quite a few hours into mobile games while at home (with a beer). However, regardless of your views on what constitutes a shallow or deep experience, the point remains that we are increasingly seeing more content found on mobile coming to tvs and monitors and vice versa. This convergence is challenging how people see mobile and non mobile content and hardware. Windows 8, tablets, tablet/laptops, laptops running Android, Apple tv and even closed systems like psv, psv tv and dual play on Sony devices all point to this convergent market.

            I myself game on my phone, take it to work, slot it into my dock and then use it as a fully fledged pc (I even play the odd game on it via mouse or my ps3 controller hidden in my bag)

            Then at home I either play on my phone (both as is our via an hd cable, connected to my bedroom tv) or in the lounge, via my ouya (sideloaded and regular games and apps) or my ps3.

          • Alm0s

            There is an obvious technological convergence, but in the end the form factor defines the content. A video game console, a laptop, or smartphone are all meant to be used in a different manner, in different situations, it wouldn't matter if they all used the same CPU and OS.

            Angry Birds (or Cut The Rope, Fruit Ninja, etc.) became successful exactly because it was 100% suited for the smartphone form factor: touch controls work effortlessly, and it's casual enough to be played in 5 minute sessions while remaining rewarding. StarCraft 2 is best fitted for the desktop and laptop form factor: it requires complex controls that only a keyboard and a mouse can provide. Something like GTA V works best with a controller, laying on the couch.

            Sure, the boundaries are blurry, you can connect a controller and a TV to your phone, or a mouse to your console, but that's not why most people buy these things. Most people use their stuff the way it was meant to be used. It seems very clear to me that the really successful games are always tailored to a specific form factor. And I'm convinced that if OUYA has a future, it's not in content that was meant for a 5" touchscreen, played in boring meetings or classes.

          • Cherokee4Life

            I am not sure what you mean by "most people". You are assuming "most people" use their mobile devices the way they are supposed to be used.. But look at cyanogenMod just announced that it was installed on "millions" of devices. So apparently there are "millions" of people who do not use the mobile devices how they were meant to be used. They modded them, rooted them, flashed them and so on. I know your talking about games and not OS's but its the same principal.

            You can't speak for the majority when you do not have stats to support that. The examples you listed I would agree with, Angry Birds, StarCraft 2. But even there its starts to cross the line. Angry Birds on the computer works great click and drag. And then what about games like Dead Trigger, which works amazing on my tablet and with a controller?

            And about the really sucessful games are tailored to a specific form factor. What about Plants Vs. Zombies? It's on my phone, Tablet, Computer and Xbox... all of which are great ways to play the game and I would say that Plants vs. Zombies is a VERY sucessfull "mobile game".

          • Cherokee4Life

            I'm with @primalxconvoy:disqus on this one. Literally last night I went home, put my kid to bed and sat down with a Jack and Sour and played Pokemon Ruby on my phone on the couch. So making absolute statements is incorrect. I know a lot of people that sink a lot hours into mobile games on their phones or tablets at home.

            Not all mobile games are like Angry Birds where you can get your fix in on a 2 minute toilet session.

  • blahmoomoo

    Missing a 0: "Ouya will also match any crowd sourced funding between $10,00 and $250,000."

    The cash not being handed over all at once thing was always there. But instead of 50% at Kickstarter completion, it's now after beta.

    Also, note that the GOAL is what's matched now, not the total amount raised.

  • Jarl

    ouya IS a fiasco, you should check with backers, they'll tell you how good their support is.
    there are STILL backers waiting for their ouyas...

    • wolfkabal

      Yeah - was a day 2 backer - received mine 3 days before the retail launch. I'm already tired of it, and that's after trying it with everything to make it fit somewhere (gaming, media center, generic android hackery, etc) it just doesn't fit anything really. Selling it, I'm done.

      • Jarl

        I never got mine, so asked for a refund a week after it launched in stores, got lucky and got my refund
        amazing how a CEO can send an update to backers "I am pissed" and then prove she doesn't give a damn, not a single update after that and all they do is blame the shipping company, of course none of it is THEIR responsibility

  • Stewart Green

    Lowering the entry to $10k is too low, Games cost far more to put together than people realize - this is an unrealistic entry level.

  • Stewart Green

    We have been planning on releasing an updated version of our old classic LEGO ROCK RAIDERS, mainly due to requests from the modding community (thx RRU) who want new features such as a MINECRAFT style landscape. We want this to be a real indie community project so we were asking for designs for characters, levels etc, we were thinking of paying back to the community by gifting the OUYA fund money back to the best designs we use in the game, basically everyone submits your ideas, and the community votes on what they like, which goes in the game, you get the credit, and the OUYA fund money gets split between the winners - that really helps develop the indie community as everyonw with an idea or some art skills can have an input - what do you think?