Ouya Offers Kickbacks to Kickstarters with “Free the Games Fund”
Ouya is setting aside $1 million dollars to help finance Kickstarter game titles in exchange for six months exclusivity.
“Some of the most popular games on Ouya come from Kickstarter.”
A year ago, the Ouya was one of many a Kickstarter Cinderella story. With an original goal of $950,000, the tiny little Android console took the internet by storm. By the time the Kickstarter ended, it had raised over $8.5 million.
Now the Ouya is giving back, saying that it will boost game developers’ successful Kickstarters. Today Ouya made the announcement for its $1 million “Free the Games Fund”, an effort to give back to the platform that got them started.
Those developers interested in gaining from this opportunity can sign up by emailing Ouya with your campaign details and including specific copy before you launch your Kickstarter, thereby opening yourself up to Ouya’s full promotional support for your game. If you succeed in meeting your funding requirements and agree to be exclusive on Ouya for a minimum of six months, the company will double your funding up to $250,000 until the $1 million fund is used up.
Straight from Ouya’s reps is a little more info about the “Free the Games Fund” requirements:
- Game projects must launch on Kickstarter on or after August 9, 2013, and finish by August 10, 2014, with a minimum goal of $50,000.
- Funded titles must remain exclusive on Ouya for a minimum of six months which begins on the date the title becomes available for download on Ouya.
- The “Rock Star Bonus”: An additional $100,000 will be paid to the developer who raises the most Kickstarter funding by the end of the program.
Ouya looks to this project as a partnership because this will add some of the most compelling, innovative titles of the future to Ouya’s lineup… and it will come with a built-in audience to boot. As company head Julie Uhrman told Gamasutra, “When gamers back a project, you know that they want that project to exist.”
This goes perfectly well for the makers of the Ouya, of course. Six months’ minimum exclusivity on the console, might just be what the $99 Android-based console needs to go from niche system to wider console-playerbase appeal. One of the biggest issues holding back potential players from buying the tiny fist-sized bundle of potential is the lack of exclusives. Why should I buy a brand new box just to play phone games with? Yes, you have a Final Fantasy title, but not one that we haven’t already played to death on three or four different platforms if not more.
But what about the developers?
Twice as much money to play with, so that you are able to further refine your game ideas and expand on the original (pressumably) bare minimum concept, and you get a guaranteed platform that will both support and produce it.
And hey, for some developers that’s enough! At $50k, maybe you’re not looking for a big breakout title that will debut on the PSN or Xbox Live Arcade scene. Six months exclusivity on the Ouya and then you can take it Steam Greenlight and watch all over again to see whether the community will make it happen.
But for most developers who are passionate enough to really put themselves and their work out there, opening themselves up to criticism, pressure, and possibility of fan outrage even before the breakout release, they are probably hoping for and expecting more.
So, while you do get more money on the outset, you are also limiting yourself to a console that relies moreso on you for exposure than you do on it. You are risking the potential wider audience of a streamlined concurrent release on multiple platforms on the power of your new title’s ability to withstand six months before it hits a new market… a new market that often easily forgets what you are. Most new, buzz titles like those funded on Kickstarter can’t always hold themselves up to the standard of all the initial hype, nor maintain it for six months to make an impact on new platforms.
As developer of critically acclaimed Monaco: What’s Yours is Mine Andy Schatz said about the (unintended) delay for the Xbox Live Arcade release of the game compared to the Steam release, “The 360 delay unquestionably hurt our sales.”
And this is a delay of only two and a half weeks.
In the end, though…
Ultimately, in my opinion, it’s a great idea for Ouya. In fact, I daresay it’s a brilliant idea. Head-start exclusivity is very generous offer in a day and age where gamers constantly complain about this console or another using the season’s hottest game as a chokehold to buy that system (see The Last of Us). And they’re right. They do get to give back to Kickstarter in much the same way that they got and nab some much-hyped exclusives for themselves as well.
But for the developers with big dreams? Just keep in mind that it’s always good to plan ahead.