This week, OUYA found themselves in hot water when it was revealed that more than 75% of game developers who were making games for their little gaming box were owed money that they were not going to be getting. The reasoning behind it was down to milestones, and what the games failed to achieve. Publicity can go a long way, and bad publicity goes further.
Razer CEO Min Liang-Tan told Polygon that by acquiring the OUYA brand as their own, they only purchased the team, the platform and the assets of Ouya. The debts owed were not part of the deal, and were unaware of before the transaction. The Free the Games fund offered grants of between $10,000 and $250,000 to developers to help fund their project, and in turn making them contractually exclusive to OUYA for a pre-determined length of time. According to Razer, $620,000 of the original $1 million has still not been paid out, generally because developers hadn’t yet hit milestones.
The problem stemmed from the fact that OUYA was bought out by Razer, and OUYA followed the belief that their company was ‘dissolved’, so were not responsible for paying out any further money to developers. “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, just stinks,” one developer told Polygon.
“We only acquired the team, the platform and the assets of Ouya. We didn’t look at the debts because that’s not how the deal was structured for us,” he said. “What we want to do is make sure we support indie developers. Razer will be backing the new Ouya publishing arm. So we are going to try and make good on this fund and give these developers an option.”
According to MCV, “Of the 27 developers who signed up to Free the Games around a quarter received all of the money promised. A further quarter received some of the cash but half not yet seen a penny – in most instances because the developers have yet to hit the required milestones. When the remaining debt is paid up it will represent a $1m outlay for Ouya/Razer.”
The OUYA’s ‘Free the Games’ initiative was set in place to encourage developers to create games for the OUYA device, and once they reached a certain milestone of sales, they were free to release their game on other platforms.
“The financial terms remain largely the same,” Min Liang-Tan added. “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.
“For ourselves at Razer, we’ve always done stuff for our fans. This is purely being done out of goodwill. I think this is going to be great for the developers. I think they’re going to be able to get the games done and gamers will get access to games for free. Then those games will spread through word of mouth.
“We’re falling back to our basic principles, that Razer is for gamers, by gamers. 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.”