Remember Ouya’s Free The Games Fund? For those of you that don’t, it’s a program where Ouya is matching the final funding tally on Kickstarter-backed Ouya games. The console company gets exclusive rights to the game in exchange for doubling their funding. This seemed like a good move, both for the game developers and the company behind the $99 Android based gaming platform. It helps developers pay the bills and build great games, and it gives Ouya exclusive rights to those great games, while also giving the company some good publicity.
Two games have already met the funding goals needed to get some extra money from Ouya. Gridiron Thunder and Elementary, My Dear Holmes! are both trying to cash in. According to Fanboys Anonymous, both of these games and the developers behind them, are trying to scam Ouya out of this funding. A couple of internet detectives have discovered that both Gridiron and Elementary have been up to some shady doings.
While this campaign seems like a great idea, and it’s definitely one that Ouya needs, crowd funding campaigns can be easily manipulated. It appears that the developers behind these two games merely funded the campaigns themselves, making it appear that they are far more popular than they actually are. Because Ouya has said that they will match a minimum of $50,000 in funds, the companies have just pledged $50,000 to their own campaigns. This would have allowed them to basically get $50,000 from Ouya, free and clear.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with Ouya helping to fund games. They want to drive interest and users to their Android gaming platform. The issue lies in how these developers basically lied to the public, and to Ouya, in an attempt to get some free cash. Gridiron Thunder reached a funding goal of over $78,000 with just 127 backers, most of them pledging at a low funding tier. 17 backers, however, pledged at around $4,000 each. Most of the games funding happened in short window of four days. This could be completely legitimate, but it seems like a short period of time and too few backers to reach this goal.
Elementary, My Dear Holmes! seems to be involved in something a little more unsavory. This game was backed by fictional characters, including Dorothy from Wizard of Oz, Cat Cora from Iron Chef, and someone who used an account photo of a woman who has been missing since 2011.
Nothing has been proven, but this is not a great start for Ouya’s Free The Games funding campaign. Maybe Ouya needs to rethink their funding strategies.