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8th July 2021

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Ouya's Free The Games fund redesigned in face of controversy

"Too many loopholes" in previous incarnation, says Uhrman

Ouya CEO Julie Uhrman has announced an overhaul to the company's troubled Free The Games funding initiative, admitting that the initial idea was plagued by "too many loopholes."

Those "loopholes" were suspected to have been exploited by several projects, using spurious donations to game Ouya's fund-matching promises. Some of those projects, like Dungeons: the Eye of Draconus, have now been withdrawn from the program at either Ouya or their creator's request.

Initially Uhrman defended the program, but has now admitted that the first draft left the door open to exploitation. However, she still stands by the ethos of the fund and says that the company will continue to refine the rules until they find a model which works.

"The program isn't working," Uhrman admitted in a video update. "Regardless of my best intentions, there are just too many loopholes."

To close those loopholes, Uhrman has instigated a number of changes. Projects now need only raise $10,000 to qualify instead of the previous total of $50,000, but each $10,000 raised must come from at least 100 backers, preventing the pattern of suspiciously large donations seen in the cancelled projects.

"The intent is for the community to want your game, not a small number of well-resourced supporters," Uhrman continued. "We felt we needed to look at the minimum number of backers to make sure it is in line with the spirit of our program.

"You need to play by the spirit of the fund as much as the rules. We can't account for every loophole. So, if we, or our community, feel you are gaming the system, we will review your project (and consult with our developer friends for their advice) and determine whether to fund it or not."

Part of the terms and conditions for the funding now include a requirement to "play by the spirit of the fund as well as the rules." What exactly that spirit consists of or how closely it will be enforced remains to be seen.

Celebrating employer excellence in the video games industry

8th July 2021

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Latest comments (4)

Iain Stanford Experienced Software Engineer, Tinderstone7 years ago
My main problem with OUYA is that I keep seeing images of Julie Uhrman and thinking they are pictures of Rebecca Front leading me to imagine the offices of OUYA like a Thick Of It episode, with everyone bumbling from one failure and cock up to another....with an angry Scot occasionally coming into the room and insulting them all.

With the articles that appear too, that may well be happening.
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Adam Campbell Product Manager, Azoomee7 years ago
She needs to put a stop to the momentum of negativity and fast...
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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 7 years ago
@Adam: The problem is, this could and should have been prevented from the beginning has the company kept more of the promises it made at the outset. On paper, Ouya is a grand idea, but from people who paid in not getting their systems until after others who pledged later, to the issues with some units and so forth up to this latest stuff, there's a lot of momentum that's built up that needs stopping.

I'm going to check in on some friends and fellow writers types over the next month who own Ouyas and see what they're up to. I know one guy has pretty much stopped using his until he sees more games worth buying. He's happy as hell to own one, but he doesn't make games so that function is useless to him and he's hoping to see something that's not on his phone or tablet that's 100% finished and not a tech demo or game that's over in an hour or three.
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Adam Campbell Product Manager, Azoomee7 years ago
I don't disagree Greg but as said, the momentum of negativity needs to be stopped going forward. Julie will need to come up with some serious initiatives to do so because the console's image is in freefall. Yes there has been a lot of build up and early issues that dented opinion, but the future is what needs to be focussed on now.
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