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Ouya's "Free The Games" devs haven't been paid - report

Update: Razer CEO promises to pay devs out of new $620,000 fund, exclusivity no longer required

Update:

Razer CEO Min-Liang Tan has promised to pay indie developers who created games for the Ouya platform the money they were promised.

"We're falling back to our basic principles, that Razer is for gamers, by gamers," he told Polygon. "When we heard of the plight of some of the indie devs we wanted to make sure we were in a position to help them."

To claim the cash the developers will have to sign a new contract with Razer that is roughly similar to their contracts with Ouya, only now their games don't have to stay exclusive to a single platform and copies will be given away on Razer's Cortex store.

"The financial terms remain largely the same," Tan said.

"This was a marketing campaign for Ouya to bring games to the Ouya platform exclusively. We don't want exclusives for any platform. What we will ask for is that whatever sums we invest in a game, we would like that same amount to be given away on Cortex."

In a follow-up statement issued to the press, Razer confirmed that the process will involve establishing a new $620,000 fund to honour Ouya's original agreement with its Free The Games developers. Razer's acquisition deal did not cover liabilities or debts, so the affected developers will need to sign a new agreement and achieve the agreed milestones to access the money.

The new agreement will also ask the developers to offer an "equitable amount" of their games for free through Razer's Cortex TV store. To quote Razer's example, if $10,000 is given to fund a $1 game, then 10,000 games at $1 each will be given away for free.

"Moving forward with this plan will ensure that both interests are met, as openly, widely, and beneficially as possible," the statement read. "Razer's credo is “By Gamers. For Gamers.” Giving back to gamers, game developers and those who support the gaming lifestyle is what it's all about.

Update:

Polygon is reporting that only about a quarter of the 27 developers who signed up to the Free the Games program received all of the promised funding from Ouya. Another quarter had received some of funding from the company, while about half never received any payment.

Original story:

When Ouya completed its acquisition deal with Razer, it did so without paying some developers that signed up for its Free The Games fund.

According to a number of indie developers who spoke to Motherboard, Ouya owed amounts ranging from $5,000 to $30,000, and has stated that it will not honor those debts now that Razer's software and talent acquisition has completed.

The Free The Games fund was launched by Ouya in 2013, an attempt to attract exclusive titles to the platform in return for development funds. The company promised $1 million to do just that, with 50 per cent of the money on any given project due when the developer had finished a playable beta version, 25 per cent when the game launched, and the rest at the end of the standard six-month exclusivity period. That structure was outlined in the fund's official rules.

However, at the start of this year an unspecified number of developers were given a new contract with a new clause, one stipulating "Termination Upon Bankruptcy or Insolvency." That clause applied to both parties, and Ouya has invoked it now that developers relying on the fund are asking for what's owed.

Ouya informed the affected developers using Skype calls, ahead of the confirmation of the Razer acquisition. One developer has said that Ouya "gently requested" that they not tell the press, while another claimed that Ouya advised that Razer may be able to help honour the debt.

"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, or that they've somehow transformed the company into a product or service, just stinks," one third developer said.

"I think Razer will have trouble ahead if this is the level of respect they continue to show indie devs."

In an interview with Polygon, Razer CEO Min-Liang Tan said that the company is focused on helping Ouya's contracted partners to make a "smooth transition."

"We've always had a great relationship with indies," Tan said.

We have reached out to Razer for further comment.

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Latest comments (9)

Wow. I kinda assumed Razor knew their audience better than this. If this story is true Ouya seem to have prepped their devs very nicely for getting ripped off. Classy all 'round.
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Andrzej Wroblewski Localization Generalist, Albion Localisations6 years ago
I know a person named Dick who is Head of something at an international company and would claim this Move is his style.
On another note, we can always vote with our wallets, can't we?
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Jess Kappeler Senior Game Designer, Pipeworks Studio6 years ago
I'm not a lawyer but it seems like there would be a case for anyone owed money. When you purchase a company you also take in any debt they might have. Or were there no official contracts/paperwork for "Free the Devs?"
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Show all comments (9)
Bill Young Head of Strategic Partnerships & Sponsorships, esports, Twitch6 years ago
I'm going to give Razer the benefit of the doubt here, and assume that we'll be seeing an update to this story after they have settled their debts. GamesIndustry.biz - updates would be appreciated.
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James Berg Games User Researcher 6 years ago
Like Bill, I fully expect Razer will honour this, they're good people, and this would very much not be their style.

@Jess, the article states there was a legal clause in the contract that might let them get out of it. Not that they *should* invoke it, but if so, they might get away with it legally, if not in the court of public opinion.
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Matt Wyatt Sr Accountant, Unity Technologies6 years ago
Depends on how the acquisition was structured. My understanding is that is was an asset acquisition and not a share purchase, which wouldn't require Razer to take on Ouya's outstanding liabilities.
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Adam Campbell Product Manager, Azoomee6 years ago
Looks like they'll get the cash. I didn't expect it would be much trouble for Razor.
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Thomas Dolby Project Manager / Lead Programmer, Ai Solve6 years ago
Well done to Razer, this was the right move to make, and it will also earn them some good PR.
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Alfonso Sexto Lead Tester, Ubisoft Germany6 years ago
Desura came to my mind while reading this. Anybody knows how are those guys doing?
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