Ouya initiative incites crowdfunding controversy

Ouya initiative incites crowdfunding controversy
Seth Tipps

By Seth Tipps

August 28th 2013 at 8:05AM

Free the Games projects draw speculation over the speed and source of funding

The first two games to receive funding from Ouya's Free the Games initiative have aroused controversy over the speed and nature of their crowdfunding campaigns.

Free the Games pledges to match funding for all crowdfunded games that agree to a limited term of exclusivity on the Ouya microconsole.

So far only two titles participating in the million dollar initiative have met their funding targets: Elementary my Dear Holmes, and Gridiron Thunder.

This would be great news for the developers, but a number of backers and Ouya owners have begun to voice their doubts about the legitimacy of the campaigns, with special attention given to Gridiron Thunder.

The major concerns stem from the speed with which the projects were funded, the high average donation amount, and the large number of new and duplicate accounts backing the project.

Gridiron Thunder is getting the worst of the speculation, and NeoGAF users have pointed out that several backers have the same last name as CEO Andrew Won, including two identical accounts.

At one point the average pledge was $625 – a fact that has raised some eyebrows – but Won told Gamasutra this is simply because his American football game has the support of several Silicon Valley tech entrepreneurs and athletes.

“We have had some generous donors but so have other KickStarter campaigns,” he said.

“In our case, we have very deep roots in Silicon Valley and great ties to fellow tech entrepreneurs in the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond. We also have friends in the professional sports world who want to see us succeed.”

Other fans have suggested that MogoTXT doesn't have the rights to make the game, an idea which Won pointedly denies.

“Some people, who are not lawyers and who have no knowledge of the facts, also said that we lack the intellectual property rights to build our game,” he said. “They have no idea what they are talking about.”

Elementary my Dear Holmes has drawn less criticism, probably because its easier to believe a game with such positive press coverage from major sites would be funded quickly.

Not only that, but EMDH lead Sam Chandola has spoken openly about the accusations, and says he's asked Kickstarter and Amazon to check on any dubious backers. Chandola told Gamasutra he hadn't hard back from either.

It's hard to say whether the concern is reasonable, but it's definitely a sign of the times, as the optimism surrounding Kickstarter and the Ouya microconsole it helped launch begins to evaporate.