If The Ouya Fails, You (Probably) Won’t Be Getting Your Money Back

If The Ouya Fails, You (Probably) Won’t Be Getting Your Money Back

The Ouya console might not have been the first video game project to hit it big on Kickstarter, but it’s easily the biggest, with around 57,000 people contributing money towards a machine that doesn’t even exist yet.

You’d hope that, come 2013, those 57,000 peoople will see a return on their investment in the form of an Ouya console. But what happens if they don’t? Or if any other Kickstarter project cashes in your money but then fails to deliver?

An NPR report on the service spoke with Ouya mastermind Julie Uhrman, and while chatting brought up the subject of money. Namely, would Ouya return the backer’s money if the console doesn’t actually get made?

“Technically, from the Kickstarter perspective, I actually don’t know the answer to that,” she said. “But from a doing-the-right-thing perspective, we will treat our backers the best possible way.”

That’s when Ouya PR rep Tiffany Spencer says, “That’s a Kickstarter policy question.”

So NPR reporter Aarti Shahani asks Kickstarter founder Yancey Strickler whether, in the unlikely event the Ouya can’t be delivered, would the company be able to intervene?

“You know, that would be new ground,” he replied. “I don’t know. I mean, no, I don’t think that we would. But certainly, the kind of thing you’re talking about is not a bridge that has been crossed yet. Someday it will. And you know, I think if something did go awry, it would be – it wouldn’t be my favourite day.”

Oh boy. I know the service is still in its infancy, and that with so much money and talent behind it the Ouya should arrive just fine, but those are not words that inspire confidence in Kickstarter’s ability to manage things when, inevitably, something comes along that does screw people over.

You can read, or even listen to, the full story below.

When A Kickstarter Campaign Fails, Does Anyone Get Their Money Back? [NPR, via Ian Bogost]


  • Seems obvious to me. In the event that they run out of money to launch Ouya, then they clearly won’t have enough money to may back investors. This is a risk every wise investor knows they are taking, especially when it comes to completely new products.

    • Yes – but here’s the difference. An investor is paying money up front in order to see a return on that investment (ie: profits), the kickstarter investor does not (to the best of my knowledge) enjoy any profit for their investment save for a free copy of the product they funded. That’s not investment, that’s lay-by and a pretty shoddy lay-by at that.

      Still, people can spend their money however they wish – and good luck to them!

  • Is this supposed to be new information? I find it difficult to believe that anyone who’s invested in Ouya via Kickstarter expects their money to actually be returned if the whole thing collapses. This article seems to be drama for drama’s sake.

  • Breaking news! Kickstarter works the same it has since day one! Also, it’s dumb to link this to Ouya since they have one of the most professional teams working on production and there is no new information to give anyone a reason to doubt their ability to deliver. Very disappointed with the original author, and anyone else reposting this non-story.

    • Investors can be insured from loss, though not usually total loss. I doubt that Outa has insurance, from all of these stories it sounds like it is on a shoestring budget. I doubt the investors even hold legal shares.

  • “If I am unable to complete my project as promised, what should I do?

    If you realize that you will be unable to follow through on your project before funding has ended, you are expected to cancel it. If you realize that you will be unable to follow through on your project after it has been successfully funded, you must refund any backer whose reward you do not or cannot fulfill.”

    Found that after a quick search on the Kickstarter site. Know does this mean that they (she?) doesn’t know kickstarter policy, or does it mean that they are not sure how kickstarter will refund the money?

      • It’d be interesting to know what the legalities are there, though. Especially if the Kickstarter is run by an individual or privately owned company (which I assume most of them are) instead of a corporation. I.e. is the individual then liable for the debts? But then again, is it even a debt? Is the money considered a loan, investment or basically a gift?

        There’s probably a good article to be had out of this. Serrels! Get to work!

  • And this was our weekly “a kickstarter project is bound to eventually fail and defraud thousands of people of their money, please do panic” reminder! Thanks for your attention!

    Seriously can we stop it already? Can we make a deal in which we acknowledge that you have “forecast” it thousands of times and that you get to smugly boast of your prediction acumen when it finally happens (and we pretend to be impressed,) in exchange of not mentioning it again until then? Pretty please?

    • Its called agenda. ATM, Kotakus agender is to dull the Kickstarter hype by complaing about it. Its not just games that always have an agenda, its game websites aswell.

  • I didn’t even read this article, because it’s just flat out false. It -clearly states- on Ouya’s kickstarter page that if for any reason the console doesn’t meet their goals, they will refund all their backers that ordered a console. Get your facts straight first, then you can be allowed write an article that disses Ouya.

  • Kickstarter is what it has always been, croud-sourced funding.
    Most projects offer rewards, but at the end of the day what you are actually doing is DONATING to a project that you want to see happen, the rewards are just sweetening the deal. If the project is funded and fails then it is likely due to money, so chances are you’re not going to see anything from it… no reward, no refund, thats life.

    If a project never even tries to deliver, and is in fact a fraud…. well thats when the law comes into the picture.

    At the end of the day backers are either donating to a cause they believe in, or being venture capitalists where the reward is something other than profits/shares.

  • I guess it depends on the mode of failure. A design that fails to become a viable product should not require returning the invested money, that’s just part and parcel of an investor’s risk. Any hint of fraud though, ie misleading on intentions of design or purposeful failure so you can pocket the money, is entirely different. In other words no money back unless criminality/negligence is proven (most likely in court).

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