Ouya ditches 'free-to-play' requirement

Devs no longer required to release free versions or demos of their games

Ouya has confirmed it will ditch a policy that requires developers to release a free-to-play (or demo) version of their games on the micro console.

Much like Xbox Live games on Xbox 360, the Ouya launch with a strict rule that every single game released on the format would need to offer some form of free-to-download version. This, admits Ouya, proved an obstacle for small indie developers with limited time and/or resources.


"Free to Try seemed like an obvious choice for an open platform," said Ouya's Bob Mills in a statement. "We knew it appealed to gamers, but it turned out many devs had trouble meeting the requirement, didn't want to make a demo, or weren't sure how to monetize their game," he admitted.

"So we found ourselves weighing one good thing against another. Do we support the awesome feeling of getting to try anything before you buy it, or do we make the pathway to publishing on the TV even easier for devs? It was a difficult choice," added Mills.

"We didn't come to this decision unilaterally. Devs have been asking us for this choice for more than a year."

Kickstarter-backed Ouya launched in June 2013 and recorded positive first-week hardware sales. However, the console's viability as a business option for developers was questioned when it was revealed that, a month after launch, three quarters of owners had not purchased a game on the system. This may partly have been due to the condition that every Ouya game released must include at least some free gameplay, even if it's just a demo.

It's unclear if this contributed to Ouya's decision to ditch the requirement, but Mills did express confidence in the policy change attracting more indie devs to the Ouya platform.

"Giving devs the freedom to choose gives our gamers access to the best games available. We're clearing another roadblock in the pathway to publishing on the TV, and that means more great games will make it to OUYA."

This comes after the company recently announced a new initiative called Ouya Everywhere, which intends to deliver the Android micro-console's library of games to households that don't own the system.

In a recent interview, Ouya founder and CEO Julie Uhrman outlined plans to let players without an Ouya access its software on TVs.