Earlier this week, Android-based micro console manufacturer Ouya was acquired by peripheral and gaming PC maker Razer. As sometimes happens when one company absorbs another, all their dirty secrets go with them.
Case in point: Ouya set aside US$1 million to contribute to funding a number of games on Kickstarter back in 2013 on the proviso that those games came to Ouya first. Some have been released, others have not. For those games still in development, Ouya says the funds don’t exist any more.
The story broke via VICE overnight and comes hot on the heels of the acquisition announcement.
Originally, Ouya ran a promo that they called “Free the Games”. This name became the butt of many an hilarious joke because any game released in conjunction with the promo had to be Ouya-exclusive for six months following release – though it was later altered so that games could also appear on PC during that window.
The payment model broke down like so: Ouya would match your Kickstarter take dollar-for-dollar as long as you managed to raise a minimum of US$50,000 yourself. Half of that money would find its way to you upon delivery of a working beta, another 25% once you’ve shipped and the last 25% at the conclusion of the six-month exclusivity period. Originally, eagle-eyed developers who had pored over the contract with Ouya discovered many loopholes and began to game the system. Ouya then adjusted the rules to prevent such chicanery and for a time it was good.
And then, with the acquisition looming, Ouya backed out of the deal.
According to a report via Polygon, of the 27 developers who were promised dollar-for-dollar support for their games as part of Free the Games promotion, only a quarter of them actually received the full amount owed. Another quarter received only part of their promised total and the remaining 50% haven’t seen a cent thus far.
The thing is, according to the rules laid out in the original contract, Ouya (and now Razer) have never had any obligation to actually fulfill the terms of the promotion. Here’s an excerpt of the contract provided to Polygon:
8.3. Termination Upon Bankruptcy or Insolvency. Either party may, at its option, terminate this Agreement immediately upon written notice to the other party, in the event (i) that the other party becomes insolvent or unable to pay its debts when due; (ii) the other party files a petition in bankruptcy, reorganization or similar proceeding, or, if filed against, such petition is not removed within sixty (60) days after such filing; (iii) the other party discontinues it business
In an update to the story this morning, Polygon says they have spoken to Razer CEO Min-Liang Tan who claims the company had not been made aware of Ouya’s outstanding debt until around midnight last night in Taiwan. Tan claims that developers will be paid under a new deal that will reflect the specifics of the original one with Ouya with a pair of exceptions.
Games released under the Free the Games fund won’t have to be exclusive to the Ouya platform any longer. Additionally, money given to developers will be used, upon publication, to give away copies of the game to users on Razer’s Cortex digital shopfront (so if a dev is granted $10,000 via Free the Games and they plan to sell their game for $10 then they’ll have to give away 1000 copies of their game on Cortex). The new deal will not, according to Tan, prevent any developer from immediately selling their game on other platforms and storefronts.
This story is still developing. We’ll keep you posted with any new information.