In an effort to secure some exclusive titles for its $99, Android-powered game console, Ouya has announced its “Free the Games Fund,” a million dollar matching-fund reserved specifically for Kickstarter game projects. According to a post on Ouya’s website, Ouya will provide up to $250,000 in matching funds for games that raise money on Kickstarter, but only if the developers agree to put their games out exclusively for the Ouya for at least six months.
There’s plenty of fine print in terms of when and how funding will be awarded. First, a game project must raise a minimum of $50,000, which would probably help Ouya make sure that it’s awarding serious game-making contenders only. Additionally, developers will get 25 percent of the matching funds when the campaign ends, another 50 percent of the funds when the game launches on Ouya, and then the final 25 percent when the six-month exclusivity period ends.
To me, this seems like a good way to ensure that the project can actually be reasonably finished with the funds it raises, rather than falling into the Kickstarter trap of raising too much money, which then throws the scale out of whack and actually makes the thing harder to finish. This way, Ouya will throw in some extra cash to keep things humming along in such a way as to allow for operations to continue without too much trouble.
“We’ve seen dozens of great games launch on Kickstarter,” said the company’s founder and CEO Julie Uhrman. “And now we are in the enviable position of being able to give back and secure the best, exclusive games for Ouya.”
Overall, this is an interesting turn of events, and a net positive for Ouya…but not for a while. As this post on GameInformer rightly points out, there’s quite a turnaround time for games funded on Kickstarter, meaning that any exclusives created for the console won’t actually show up for at least a year, if not a good deal longer. That implies that Ouya’s got a plan to keep things running smoothly between now and then, and doesn’t solve the problem of the console’s lack of games right now. Like the Wii U, the console’s dearth of exciting, sales-driving software is an issue right now, and making gamers wait for great titles will only work for so long.
On the other hand, I don’t know what Ouya’s balance sheet looks like. If Uhrman’s got a million bucks to just give away to game developers, that’s clearly an indication that she and her Android console are in it for the long haul. It should be interesting to see how Ouya fares against the more traditional consoles when PlayStation 4 and Xbox One launch later this year.