Kickstarter backers gave Ouya an $8.6 million crowdfunding boost about a year ago. Now Ouya is saying that it will boost game developers' successful Kickstarters.
Ouya today announced its $1 million "Free the Games Fund" -- a fund that will go towards doubling the total pledged dollar amount of successful Ouya-exclusive Kickstarter games.
More than just a way to get friendly with developers, Ouya wants to get as many compelling games on its $99 Android-based console as possible, to make the niche system more appealing to current and potential customers.
Company head Julie Uhrman told us successfully-Kickstarted games inherently exhibit built-in demand, which is why Ouya went this unique route. "When gamers back a project, you know that they want that project to exist," she said. "We wanted to support the platform that gave us our start, and we developed this fund to do that."
Here are the main details of the "Free the Games Fund," straight from Ouya's reps:
Game projects must launch on Kickstarter on or after August 9, 2013, and successfully conclude by August 10, 2014, with at least $50,000 in total funding (the goal can be less than $50,000 -- it's the final funding amount that matters).
Games must meet their Kickstarter funding goal to be eligible for matching.
Once successfully funded via Kickstarter, Ouya will match 100 percent of the total funds raised up to $250,000.
Game creators must make their game exclusive on Ouya for a minimum of six months beginning on the date the title becomes available for download on Ouya.
An additional $100,000 will also be paid out to the developer who raises the most Kickstarter funding by the end of the program (an amount Ouya's dubbing the "Rock Star Bonus").
What happens if you go for the Free the Games Fund, and miss? According to the FAQ:
"What if I reach my funding goal but fall short of raising $50k or miss my funding goal entirely? Is my project still required to be an OUYA exclusive?
A: No. We only require the 6 month OUYA exclusivity if we provide funds for your project out of the $1M Free the Games Fund (e.g., you successfully reach your funding objective, surpass $50,000 in funding, and therefore receive matched funds from us). Of course, if you don't meet your Kickstarter goal at all, then maybe that means you can't afford to make a game. We'll be sad, of course, but we'll understand if the game you can't afford to make isn't on Ouya.Developers who want to partake in the Free the Games Fund need to include specific copy along with their campaign (detailed on fund's official web page), and email Ouya before launching their Kickstarter.
Faith in the masses
The fund is a unique way to once again invite the game community into the Ouya fold. But if Ouya has $1.1 million to commit to such an initiative, why not use that money and seek out in-demand game developers, scout promising games, vet and curate specific projects?
"Some of the most popular games on Ouya come from Kickstarter," replies Uhrman. "What's great about Kickstarter is that if you're successful in achieving your goal, you know that there is an audience that wants your game. You're already getting buy-in from people who want to play your and pay for your game. This is something they're looking forward to.
"Those 10,000, 20 or 30,000 backers have a better gauge of what a great game will be than potentially the three or four people on our team who work on it," she says. "Not always, but it's a great indicator, and we trust it and want to support it."
Ouya does work directly with some of the console's game developers. She says Kellee Santiago, the ex-thatgamecompany designer who joined Ouya this year, aids game makers who are working on Ouya games, anywhere from prototype stage to near-completion, whether it's about design or monetization.
"We provide all different kinds of support and information. It's really dependent on the developer," says Uhrman. "There's really no one way we work with anyone."