UPDATE: In an update made to Polygon, Razer CEO Min-Liang Tan stated that his company will honor the roughly $600,000 of unpaid Free The Games Fund payments not made. They will also be restructuring the deal to eliminate the exclusivity portion of the deal. Instead, developers will have to agree to give away for free a certain number of games on Razer’s Cortex platform.
I am really excited that Razer has responded so quickly to this mess and have taken up the obligation without complaint. I am sure that they are a bit miffed that they got stuck with the check at the last minute, but I am glad to see that they feel the relationship with developers is more important.
So good on you Razer.
The original post is as follows:
Two years ago, Ouya launched an initiative to attract more indie games to its console. The Free the Games Fund was meant to set aside $1million to match the money raised by successful Kickstarters that agreed to the fund’s terms of Ouya exclusivity for 6 months among other commitments.
Following the news of Ouya’s sale to Razer, several anonymous developers are reporting that Ouya is not going to honor the final payments of the fund.
Earlier this year, as some developers were launching their beta builds, they were asked to sign a contract that mostly matched the original rules, but added section “8.3. Termination Upon Bankruptcy or Insolvency.” The contract, which was provided to Motherboard, states that either party may terminate the agreement in the event that the other party becomes insolvent, unable to pay its debts, or goes bankrupt.
As the terms of Ouya’s acquisition were being finalized, Ouya notified these developers via Skype voice calls that they will not get the rest of the money they were owed because Ouya will cease to exist as a company following the Razer acquisition. One developer suggested the company wanted to avoid saying this in writing.
This honestly sucks. Based on the reports from these developers and the rumors of Ouya seeking buyers being circulated for some time, it appears that this new contract was introduced with full knowledge that these final payments were not likely to be made.
I must say, I had been a huge fan of the Free The Games Fund when it was launched. I stood up for it when so many people were trying to bury it in controversy. But this news is a huge gut punch.
There are two problems with this situation. The first is that Ouya has sold its developer relations to Razer. You would think that with that acquisition, the obligation of distributing the Free the Games Fund payments upon completion of the games would have come along for the ride. The second is that Ouya has just been bought for enough money that Ouya could simply pay a one time lump sum to to those remaining developers. $1million is not a lot when you just received several $10s of millions. Especially when much of the original $1million has already been paid out.
As someone who actually sought the funds, I can’t say that I would be happy in this situation had I succeeded in my Kickstarter. I would probably be plenty bummed and would likely be one of those anonymous devs complaining about the situation.
At this point, the only proper thing to do is for either Razer or Ouya to pledge to honor those funds, either by maintaining the original terms or paying out the lump sums of those amounts remaining. That is the only proper path forward.
If either of those actions are not taken, I doubt any game developer will take anything Julie Uhrman is involved in seriously in the future. If either action is not taken, I doubt any developer will want anything to do with Razer’s new Ouya publishing platform. If either party wants to remain relevant to the gaming scene, they will come to some solution soon.