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More controversy haunts Ouya game fund

Cash pulled after suspicious activity; Developer claims other devs are exploiting investment scheme

Microconsole vendor Ouya has been criticised for pulling out of a funding commitment to a games developer who is alleged to have exploited their controversial offer.

Ouya chief executive Julie Uhrman has asked critics of the Free The Games Fund to be more positive about the company's intentions

A game called 'Dungeons the Eye of Draconus' managed to raise $54,000 on Kickstarter in order to qualify for a $54,000 bonus from Ouya. But Ouya has now cancelled its bonus and, in response, the game's developer has axed the entire Kickstarter project.

Funding for 'Dungeons the Eye of Draconus' had initially triggered suspicions as the $54,000 was only raised by 180 people. It means that, on the assumption that the money was obtained legitimately, each backer would have paid on average $300 to support the game.

Now the game's developer has criticised Ouya for withdrawing its commitment, but in a surprise twist has also criticised the company for supporting other suspicious Kickstarter projects.

Washington based William McDonald, developer of 'Dungeons the Eye of Draconus', said Ouya has "decided to change the rules on us".

"The timing aligns with winning back of some devs that threatened to pull their games through conversations on twitter," he claimed.

Ouya's Free The Games Fund is an investment initiative which promises to double a project's Kickstarter funds in exchange for six months of platform exclusivity.

Since the announcement of Ouya's promotion, a curious number of Kickstarter projects have made a substantial amount of money from just a few investors.

Gridiron Thunder has made $171,009 on Kickstarter from just 183 backers, representing an average of nearly $1,000 from each person. Another project, called 'Elementary, My Dear Holmes' managed to raise nearly $60,000 from 861 people (around $70 per person), some of which were proven to be fictional.

The Ouya funding initiative has been criticised by numerous developers for how easily it can be exploited. The theory is that if a studio arranges to hit certain funding targets on Kickstarter, they could effectively double their money with Ouya's investment.

Elementary, My Dear Holmes has since been suspended by Kickstarter, but Gridiron Thunder appears to be in the clear and set to receive an additional $170,000 from Ouya.

Now with Ouya cancelling its commitments to 'Dungeons the Eye of Draconus', McDonald has lashed out at the microconsole company.

"It appears we were thrown under the Free the Games bus. Ouya gets their fall guy and Gridiron Thunder keeps their money," he said.

"So while a bunch of ex-EA employees with rich friends can apparently receive $171,000 in match funds for a game they, allegedly, already finished, 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."

McDonald then went on to claim that, without Ouya's backing, the whole Kickstarter project is unfeasible.

He said that only $4,000 of the $54,000 was made via "crowd source backers"

"We have no plans to develop for Ouya further," he added.

The controversy surrounding Ouya's Free the Games Fund has intensified in recent weeks, despite the company's chief executive asking for people to be more positive about the initiative.

Ouya boss Julie Uhrman addressed a growing number of critics in a statement published on her blog.

She said: "if we can put aside the doubt and embrace the spirit of this fund as it is meant, and of Ouya as it is meant, we might just be surprised by what a little positivity can produce."

The comments triggered further criticisms.