First two Ouya Free the Games titles funded, internet calls shenanigans

By Brenna Hillier, Tuesday, 27 August 2013 23:15 GMT

The first two games to qualify for Ouya’s Free the Games crowdfunding scheme have met their Kickstarter goals, but the internet smells both a rat and something fishy.

Ouya put aside $1 million for the Free the Games campaign, offering to match Kickstarter funding of up to $250,000 per project for games pledging to remain Ouya-exclusive for six months. 40 games have signed up, and 11 have live crowdfunding campaigns.

Of these, two have already met their targets and qualified for funding, Ouya announced in a press release today. Elementary, My Dear Holmes met its $50,000 goal with 17 days left, and Gridiron Thunder raised $75,000 with 13 days remaining.

Unfortunately, questions have been raised about the legitimacy of Gridiron Thunder’s campaign. As collated on a NeoGAF thread, there are several suspicious aspects. First, just 126 backers pledged the total of $78,259, which averages at over $600 each – an unusually high total even allowing for occasional whales. Additionally, the majority of backers did not request any rewards for their pledges, which is again very unusual.

Most damning of all, a significant number of backers seem to have created accounts specifically to back this one project, and there are multiple instances of shared names, duplicate names, and celebrity avatars, all of which makes these accounts look a heck of a lot like dummies.

Commenters allege the team behind Gridiron Thunder, MgoTXT, have put up the cash themselves through fake backer accounts, accepting the loss of the percentage KIckstarter will take in order to secure Ouya’s funding.

In a statement given to Gamasutra, CEO Andrew Won responded to the scandal.

“We are not trying to do something improper with Ouya’s Free the Games promotion, and we are in full compliance with both KickStarter’s and Ouya’s rules,” Won wrote.

“We have had some generous donors but so have other KickStarter campaigns. In our case, we have very deep roots in Silicon Valley and great ties to fellow tech entrepreneurs in the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond. We also have friends in the professional sports world who want to see us succeed. I don’t think there is anything wrong with having generous supporters, and we make no apology for this. It does not violate any KickStarter or Ouya rule.”

Ouya is yet to respond for requests for comment, although its Twitter did note that the game has an enthusiastic community.

Thanks, Rob.

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