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Another developer caught in Ouya's Free the Games calamity
Another developer caught in Ouya's Free the Games calamity
September 18, 2013 | By Mike Rose

September 18, 2013 | By Mike Rose
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    20 comments
More: Business/Marketing



A new chapter has been added to the ongoing string of Ouya Free the Games mishaps, as one of the developers involved claims that the Ouya team has removed his Kickstarter from the campaign without warning.

The Free the Games initiative is designed to match funds from successfully crowdfunded games in exchange for short-term exclusivity on the Ouya platform. It's an interesting proposal, but one that has caused quite a stir, as a number of Kickstarter campaigns have been widely accused of gaming the system.

The latest hiccup appears to involve a Kickstarter for Dungeons: The Eye of Draconus, a game from SuckerFree Games that planned to make use of the Free the Games initiative.

After SuckerFree founder William McDonald admitted in a Kickstarter update that his father put forward most of the money pledged to the Kickstarter, essentially allowing McDonald to game the system, the Ouya team now appears to have disallowed Dungeons from utilizing the fund.

In a new update, McDonald explained that his game has disappeared from both the Ouya homepage and the Free the Games page, and that he had received no notification from the Ouya team at all. As a result, McDonald has chosen to cancel the Kickstarter.

"A person whose father was willing to make a large sacrifice so his son's team could qualify for the fund and actually develop their game properly is disallowed," McDonald noted. "If we had remained silent we very likely would have received the funds, our transparency and honesty apparently was our undoing."

This case is in direct contrast, of course, with the Gridiron Thunder campaign which has been at the heart of the discussion, with many people under the impression that the developers behind the title have gamed the system to receive funds from the Ouya team.


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Comments


Kevin Clough
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Ouya bungles everything they do. If Ouya fails, it is going to be because of their botched communication/PR.

Wesley Paugh
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It's maybe a bit cold-hearted of me, but I feel something like this was unavoidable if Ouya did decide to enact a policy change for FTGF. If this fund can do some good for projects that could succeed without wealthy friends and family contributing, then Dungeons' campaign would be a sad, but worthwhile forfeit. Depending how terms change, 'Dungeons' might even want to try again.

However, even Dungeons' developer doesn't know what Ouya is doing, and there's been no blog and no update to the Fund's rules. For all we know, the website removed the game purely by accident. So, if Ouya would kindly explain just what happened, exactly...

Hugo Cardoso
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What exactly is the diference between this and Gridiron Thunder? Didn't both games get substantial funds from friends/family?

I don't understand the comments from the developer, it seems like he believes he's a victim. Doesn't he think that asking someone to pump $40k into a game in order to get free $50k is gaming the system?

Josh Stratton
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I guess because Ouya publically acknowledged people were gaming the system, but that they weren't going to do anything about it. In this case he said he was the gaming the system and Ouya brought the hammer down on him, but not Gridiron Thunder, which they seemed to not care about. Again, maybe if they were more clear in their PR like instead of saying, "we don't care about gaming the system" to be more astute saying "we're looking into it and trying to fix the problem".

Robert Boyd
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It's worth mentioning that not only did they try to game the Ouya promo, but this game already had a "successful" kickstarter a couple years ago. I know if I had donated to their earlier kickstarter, I would be furious that not only had they not finished the game, but that they were switching platforms to the unpopular Ouya just so they could get extra funding.

E Zachary Knight
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They didn't switch platforms. They added one. A huge difference there. All the previous backers would still get their PC versions along with the Ouya version if they wanted it.

Justin Pierce
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"They didn't switch platforms. They added one. A huge difference there. All the previous backers would still get their PC versions along with the Ouya version if they wanted it."

Wouldn't they have to wait for the Ouya exclusivity to expire?

E Zachary Knight
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Yes, but they would still get the game on the platform they bought it for. Not really different than waiting for the game to be completed following delays, like a great number of video game Kickstarters.

Michael Pianta
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As far as I know, many smaller kickstarters are funded almost entirely by friends and family. I don't see anything wrong with that in and of itself. I feel like its a bit different when you put in your own money - since under Kickstarter you don't get anything unless the entire goal is met, putting your own money in seems clearly manipulative. But since he canceled the kickstarter campaign himself, I'm assuming that means he didn't violate any of Kickstarter's rules. Which makes me wonder how clear Ouya's policies are with regards to this program... apparently not clear enough.

Michael Joseph
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I would never knowingly give money to a kickstarter campaign that was funded primarily by friends and family. Why? Because invariably what happens is the friends and family get paid back once the funds are dispersed to the project owner and the project is left with a tiny fraction of the remaining funds to complete the project... which of course is not even the point. The point is to just get that money any way you can.

If friends and family want to give you money they certainly don't have to donate it through kickstarter.

E Zachary Knight
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What confuses me about this one is that they state that they are pulling the Kickstarter because they were delisted from the Free the Games Fund website. Not that they were told they were disqualified. So I would be curious to know if they were actually disqualified and for what reason. I haven't heard back from anyone at Ouya yet though.

I know that Ouya delisted several Kickstarters that had ended recently. It may have been an accident that Dungeons was delisted. It is a game listed at the bottom of the latest Ouya blog post.

Evan Combs
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From the perspective of the Ouya developers I completely understand their motives. If they are going to be paying developers money they want to make sure they are giving it to games with genuine interest from consumers, not to developers who have a rich relative/friend giving them they money they need to develop a game that might not have any interest from consumers. It is unfortunate, but understandable.

Shea Rutsatz
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That's kind of what I was thinking. Its all good and nice when you have friends and family helping, but it's not the same when a huge amount is given by one of them - it's not representative of the consumers opinion.

Like a spoiled rich kid having his dad buy him a recording studio so he can be famous - there's a reasonable chance no one want to hear it! (I know someone who had that. Nothing but wasted money!)

Wes Jurica
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This is why there is so much confusion with the Gridiron campaign. There were less than 200 people interested. This project had essentially the same number of backers but made a lot less money. Both projects admitted to having family/friends back the majority of the project. So confusing!

Daniel Lau
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Help me to better understand the rules of the program, because I thought I understood it until now. I thought the purpose of the Kickstarter campaign was to acquire the funds that you needed to complete the game with no other funding, and that the Ouya fund was a gift that would supply supplemental funds to make the game even better in exchange for platform exclusivity. Or was the purpose of the fund to allow you to cut your Kickstart campaign request in half such that you needed the Ouya funds in order to just complete the project?

Shea Rutsatz
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I believe it's supposed to be like a big bonus, to push it further. But no doubt that campaigns would cut back on features and costs to rely on that extra funding.

Harry Fields
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Why doesn't Ouya just use the money to develop some exclusive first party titles and skip the drama? It's a rhetorical question to which I already know the answer. This thing looks worse and worse every day.

Kujel s
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I think the reason they don't just fund some first party games is it goes against the indie nature of the platform but sadly that looks like it's the only way to get people to finally except the platform.

Alexandre Daze-Hill
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I think they are funding titles off that kickstarter thing for an exclusivity timeframe (Cancer Dragon game), those projects just seem to have less media coverage than their kickstarter experimentation.

Dane MacMahon
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The dark side of Kickstarter has only just begun. The articles to come will be depressing.


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