Sources: Ouya Won't Pay Developers The Money They Promised

Sources: Ouya Won't Pay Developers The Money They Promised

In 2013, Ouya set aside $US1 million to help fund a bunch of games on Kickstarter, so long as the games showed up on Ouya first. Some games have already come out, but many have not. For those still in development, Ouya has reportedly informed them the funds no longer exist.

This story originally broke on VICE last night, but I've independently talked with a number of developers who have provided similar information. This news comes just after the announcement that PC hardware maker Razer has decided to outright purchase Ouya.

Ouya had called this promotion "Free The Games," a name roundly mocked because it required games to be exclusive to the Ouya for six months. (This was later changed to allow releases on PC.) Here's how the money part worked: Ouya matched your Kickstarter funds, so long as you'd raised at least $US50,000. 50% of the money would be delivered when a working beta was ready, the next 25% when the game shipped, and the final 25% after the exclusivity period had ended.

Several developers told me they were contacted by Ouya in June, and the company told them "things had changed." It wasn't clear what this meant, but more information was forthcoming.

More recently, Ouya scheduled time with developers to discuss the promotion, and all communication happened via Skype calls. Some asked for the meeting to happen over email to ensure a paper trail with Ouya, but the company reportedly insisted it take place over Skype.

Ouya told them the deal was off, which meant losing anything from $US7,500 to $US30,000, based on the developers I talked to. That's not a lot for the new Gears of War, but for these tiny developers, it's huge.

Developers were asked to avoid talking with the press about what was happening, which is why many have chosen to remain anonymous.

Razer has not responded to my requests for comment, and few of the developers I've spoken to have heard anything official from the company, either. None have received financial commitments, but some were told Razer may offer Android publishing deals to some games.

Ouya founder Julie Uhrman, who left the company as part of the sale to Razer, hasn't said anything publicly yet. In the past day, she's been thanking people for their support on Twitter.

In the meantime, many developers are left angry and confused about the future.

"We were going to release soon," said one developer. "We had great contact with Ouya, a demo out on the platform, and many pre-orders by Ouya owners ready to go. Then, out of nowhere, we recently received word that Razer was acquiring Ouya, that our contract for the remaining [money] was being cancelled. [...] Razer also gave vague promises that they wanted to make things easier for us and see that our game had a smooth launch, but have not put anything on the table yet."

The contracts signed by developers didn't guarantee Ouya had to pay the money, but several developers had already integrated the promised funds into their budgets.

Fire With Fire: Online Tower Attack and Defence developer Theory Georgiou is out $US5,000 because of this move. He also has to explain to his family why he doesn't have the money to pay back a small loan he took out from them to keep a graphic artist working on the game full-time.

"The developers that are really hurt by the cancellation of the fund are the developers that are taking their time to create a real product for Ouya," said Georgiou. "We believed in Ouya and that it would be around for a long time to come. We wanted to support it with the best game possible. We aren't looking for quick cash, we saw this fund as an opportunity to make a much better experience than we could have otherwise and we're the ones who get thrown under the bus."

Another developer to is having to drastically scale back audio for the game, resulting in a fractured relationship with his contracted musician.

"It's affecting my business relationships," said the developer.

Obviously, this has left a bad taste in the mouths of many folks who'd trusted Ouya to deliver.

"I initially had budgeted without the Free The Games fund," continued the developer, "but once that was attached, rather than just pocket the fund, the game's scope increased to make the game better. [...] I did receive the first payment, which made it all very real to me."

For this developer and others, though, that money is very much not real anymore.

You can reach the author of this post at [email protected] or on Twitter at @patrickklepek.


Comments

    Hands up who honestly didn't see this coming...

      Not I

      We believed in Ouya and that it would be around for a long time to come

      This is the quote that gets me. The Ouya hardware was obsolete when it launched, which made the company's ongoing survival questionable from the start! Once the reviews came out, I went very cold on the product.

        Yep. When your smartphone outpowers the damn thing...

    The contracts signed by developers didn’t guarantee Ouya had to pay the money, but several developers had already integrated the promised funds into their budgets.

    Lawyers > Developers

    https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/proxy/ixVWDnfZOyH8u0SjnECD4iBBkKJHYyXu9MNnkSQpmtpL4DKo_t3C63jRjSXqAAEV_bmMzyUZmZhdh15yTaoiW_ZP3c4sTJOugJ27hNomaeXUSix5knyFYkq5dYwqUbMIzK8imDdTBsIdeQ07rwP0u-qILlBWK1Ut=w160-h175-nc

    Last edited 29/07/15 10:48 am

      Exactly. If they didn't have solid contracts, they should not have added that money into their budgets (extended the scope of the game/s).

      It might be a bit of a dick-move by Ouya but the devs screwed themselves over really.

        the devs screwed themselves over really.

        Not really. If you are promised funds to make a game, you would make the game with those funds expected to arrive as promised.

          Except (as quoted above by cubits) they never actually promised the funds in the contract.

          It's a shitty deal and I definitely feel sorry for the devs in that respect but, they should've known exactly what was stated in the contract they signed before they signed it.

          I could tell you now that I was going to give you $50 but unless you have a contractatual agreement (or the money in your hand) you'd be naive to expect you now have $50 to go spend.

    Odds were always that the Ouya wouldn't sell much beyond those who crowdfunded it in the first place. I don't know if they did any market research but there's just not a viable market for a machine that plays Android games on your TV. Basically everyone who this is targeted at has a phone that can play the same games on the go which is what they're aimed at anyway. The problem is and always will be though, people like to play PC & console games on their TV. When they get home they put their phone down. Yes I know there are people who like to play mobile games at home, but they're in the minority. Most people now say they're using theirs for emulating and honestly that's the main draw for the thing.

    I'm really surprised though that Razer saw something in Ouya to buy it out. I can't see much they can do to it to get people excited about it other than maybe pre-loading it with loads of old Nintendo, Sega and PSOne games and selling it like those '20 games in 1' things you used to see in the 90s that no-one bought apart from parents who didn't know anything about gaming

    Last edited 29/07/15 11:34 am

    Ouya sucks!!

      Isn't the Ouya about the only 'console' that has an nVIDIA card in it? Thought you'd like that? :P

        I'm gonna pretend that Tegra 1, 2 and 3 never existed :p
        P.S. It's not a video graphics card, btw d:

        Last edited 29/07/15 12:05 pm

    With so many TV Android devices out now and with MDL type functionality of mobile phones, it was obvious something like this wasn't going to last. The only good thing would be the controller but you can easily tether those to a mobile phone and then that to a TV.

    Won't be long before we see QUAD core or higher performance chips in TVs to handle game stores etc.. (some already do it but generally are not fast).

    Probably worth mentioning now that Razer have said they'll honour the Free The Games payments

Join the discussion!