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Ouya Revamps Free The Games Fund In Wake Of Controversies

The Ouya $1 Million Free The Games FundWow a lot happened today. I had originally planned on writing a story about yet another game project being swept up in the Free The Games Fund controversy. Earlier this week, Dungeons The Eye of Draconus had funded itself to $50,000 using money from the father of one of the developers. Then a lot happened that ended in Dungeons being delisted from the FTG website and the Kickstarter for the game being cancelled. It was crazy.

I had been trying to get information from both the developer and Ouya in regards to what had happened and received responses from both at the same time. While Dungeons has been cancelled, it was unclear why it might have been delisted. William McDonald was not sure why Ouya had done it, but assumed it was because of the controversy. But now things are more clear.

The response I received from Ouya pointed me to a new blog post. This new blog post includes a video from Julie Uhrman announcing a number of changes to the rules of the fund and those new changes listed in detail. These changes would have severely decreased the potential funds received by all three of the controversial campaigns, including Dungeons, but have opened the door to a lot more potential projects. Here are those changes.

First, the minimum funding needed to qualify for matching funds has dropped considerably. It had been at $50,000, which a lot of developers complained was far too high for many projects. Ouya has reduced it to $10,000. This is a far easier target for many game developers and hopefully results in a lot more confidence in success at Kickstarter.

The second major shift is that Ouya now requires a minimum number of backers. This was a suggestion made in response to Gridiron and Dungeons and how they had very few backers for the amount of money raised. So now, Ouya requires you to have at least 100 backers for every $10,000 you raise. This is an average of $100 per backer, but most projects end up having many times that number with $10,000 raised.

Then we have a change in the exclusivity of the game. Ouya still requires exclusivity but it is now simply console exclusivity. You can still release on PC if you want. The time frame has also changed. Instead of a flat 6 months, they require one month of exclusivity for every $10,000 they back up to 6 months exclusivity. This means if you raise only $20k, you only have to be exclusive for 2 months.

The last two changes are the removal of the bonus $100k for the top project. There wasn’t a lot of controversy over that other than the fact that Gridiron would have received it under the old rules. The other change is that the disbursements are being changed to not getting any of the money until Ouya sees your beta in action. This would prevent some cut and run type projects.

All these changes have resulted in a lot more excitement for the future of the fund. Already many developers are expressing their interest in participating in the fund in the future. Which means a lot more games for the Ouya. This also means that those games that do get funded will be games the community actually wants to see made rather than just games the developers pumped a bunch of money into.

As a side note to all this, Gridiron has “voluntarily” pulled out of the program, expressing that the funds they raised was enough to get the game out. That was nice of them.

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