Ouya founder and CEO Julie Uhrman attempted to address the controversy surrounding its 'Free The Games' funding program in a blog post last night, but her statement has further exacerbated the situation and caused at least one developer to pull her game from the platform. Developers have criticized that platform holder for failing to address concerns related to its funding program. Uhrman's statement did little to quell that criticism, as developers took to the blog post to loudly complain about the tin-eared response.
The $1 million Free the Games Fund from Ouya matches contributions to successful Kickstarter-funded games built for the console that agree to be Ouya exclusive for at least six months and manage to raise at least $50,000. The first two titles to receive matching funds from the program were Grid Iron Thunder, an NFL licensed football game which was seeking $75,000 and ended up with $171,009; and Elementary, My Dear Holmes!, which asked for $50,000.
Both games had "funding irregularities," towards the end of the campaigns (large influxes of contributions), leading some to claim that some kind of scam was being perpetrated. Both games were scrutinized for alleged suspicious backing and Elementary, My Dear Holmes! saw its Kickstarter suspended after claims it was a "scam." The developers behind games have denied any wrongdoing.
In her blog post, Uhrman tried to address the issue surrounding the program:
"Recently, the intention behind our Free the Games Fund — to provide additional funding to crowd-funded games bound for OUYA, and enable developers to make more of them — seems to have been lost.
This response surprised us — we thought this was going to be great — how could it not be? We launched the Free the Games Fund to find great games from the very platform that gave us life. We wanted to make magic happen and help developers bring their games to OUYA. We wanted to include gamers in the process of discovering great games. We aren’t like everyone else. We don’t decide what games you *should* play. We want to *open* game development."
Uhrman goes on to say that the fund is for developers and that if everyone can put aside their "doubt and embrace the spirit of this fund as it is meant, and of OUYA as it is meant, we might just be surprised by what a little positivity can produce."
While Uhrman's message was certainly positive and non-confrontational, critics say that it did little or nothing to address the issues with the program – including addressing allegations that some funny business went on with the first two games accepted into the program.
Developers took to the blog to give Uhrman a piece of their mind, and one developer – Sophie Houlden – announced that she has decided to pull her time traveling stealth game, Rose and Time, from the Ouya marketplace after reading Uhrman's blog post.
"They have made it clear they care more about saving face (in who's eyes I have no idea) than working to address the concerns of the developers and gamers they need the most."
"The reason is not because of any flaw of the console (I love it), or the game (the Ouya version may even be the best), or sales (I average one sale per day, way more than elsewhere)," she wrote on her blog. "The reason is because I am no longer comfortable supporting the Ouya company."