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Ouya changes the rules for its Free the Games Fund

After speculation that some people were pulling the wool over Ouya's eyes to get financial backing for their gaming projects, the console maker switches up its funding rules.

Dara Kerr Former senior reporter
Dara Kerr was a senior reporter for CNET covering the on-demand economy and tech culture. She grew up in Colorado, went to school in New York City and can never remember how to pronounce gif.
Dara Kerr
2 min read
Ouya's Android-based gaming console. Ouya

Ever since Ouya launched its Free the Games Fund, gamers and developers have wondered whether some people were taking short cuts to get funding for their projects -- namely getting friends and family to donate a high amount of money to meet the project minimum on Kickstarter.

It may be because of this speculation that the gaming company announced Wednesday it was changing the rules of the fund. Now, the project minimum has been lowered to $10,000, but projects must have at least 100 backers for every $10,000 raised.

"You need to play by the spirit of the fund as much as the rules," Ouya founder Julie Uhrman said in a blog post. "We can't account for every loophole. So, if we, or our community, feel you are gaming the system, we will review your project (and consult with our developer friends for their advice) and determine whether to fund it or not."

Ouya launched its Free the Games Fund in July to lure game developers by giving them cash for Kickstarter-funded projects. Ouya said it would match pledges made for Ouya-targeted games launched via Kickstarter. To qualify for the matching funds, game projects had to raise a minimum of $50,000 on Kickstarter and make their games exclusive on Ouya for a minimum of six months. The developer who scored the highest amount in pledges was also supposed to receive a juicy $100,000 bonus.

Since the launch of Free the Games Fund, only two games successfully received the $50,000 project minimum on Kickstarter, according to GigaOM. However, neither of these games meet Ouya's new rule guidelines.

The creator of one of these games, William McDonald, has pulled his project from Kickstarter saying it wasn't fair for Ouya to change the rules so long after the launch of the fund.

"It appears we were thrown under the FTG bus," McDonald wrote on his Kickstarter page. "A person whose father was willing to make a large sacrifice so his son's team could qualify for the fund and actually develop their game properly is disallowed. If we had remained silent we very likely would have received the funds, our transparency and honesty apparently was our undoing."

Here's an outline of some of Ouya's rule changes, which are effective immediately:

  • Project Minimum: $10,000
  • Match Amount: 100 percent of your funding goal to a maximum of $250,000
  • Minimum number of Backers: The intent is for the community to want your game, not a small number of well-resourced supporters. We felt we needed to look at the minimum number of backers to make sure it is in line with the spirit of our program. So, for every $10,000 raised on Kickstarter, you have to have a minimum of 100 backers.
  • Exclusivity: 1 month for every $10,000 funded by OUYA up to six months.
  • Bonus: Gone. We're going to use this money to fund games the old fashioned way -- working with you one-on-one.

(Via GigaOM)