On Monday, Razer announced that they were purchasing the software assets of the Kickstarter-funded, Android-powered microconsole, OUYA. The deal takes the games and storefront from OUYA and implements them into Razer’s own Forge TV platform. But today, many independent developers were anonymously claiming to Motherboard, Polygon, and Engadget that the Razer-OUYA deal is not honoring payment to developers on deals reached from OUYA’s controversial Free the Games Fund.
The Free the Games Fund, launched back in July 2013, offered independent game developers who raise funding for their games on Kickstarter to receive matching funds — from $50,000 to $250,000 — for releasing their game exclusively on the OUYA platform for six months upon reaching certain milestones. This extra funding would help the developers offset the many costs that come with making a game and would help cover any unforeseen costs. Earlier this year, a new contract was given to the developers within the Free the Games Fund to sign that included a new “Termination Upon Bankruptcy or Insolvency” clause:
8.3. Termination Upon Bankruptcy or Insolvency. Either party may, at its option, terminate this Agreement immediately upon written notice to the other party, in the event (i) that the other party becomes insolvent or unable to pay its debts when due; (ii) the other party files a petition in bankruptcy, reorganization or similar proceeding, or, if filed against, such petition is not removed within sixty (60) days after such filing; (iii) the other party discontinues it business; or (iv) a receiver is appointed or there is an assignment for the benefit of such other party’s creditors.
Namely, this clause states that if either company — the developer or OUYA — goes into bankruptcy or is reorganized (like if the company is acquired). Many developers were left without much of the additional funds promised to them by this contract. Developers began reaching out to Razer to make sure their funding was still impending, but were met with resistance. One developer who spoke with Engadget had this to say:
“From what I can tell, Ouya has made no effort as of yet to take the actions described in [the Free the Games Fund section] of the contract,” the developer says. “Rather, Razer has simply told us they didn’t purchase the part of OUYA that deals with the Free The Games fund.”
When Motherboard reached out to Razer for comment, a spokesperson regurgitated the same sentiment, saying that the company did not acquire the Free the Games initiative as part of their purchase.
But, since the story made it to every major video game new outlet and Razer received a lot of bad press, Razer CEO Min-Liang Tan reached out to Polygon and has since developed a new arrangement. Tan now has outlined plans to pay the estimated $620,000 of as-yet unpaid funds to developers. Under a new contract that will be offered to developers, they will receive the missing funding for their games much the same way as they were to under OUYA with two major exceptions. First, the games will no longer need to be exclusive to the OUYA or Razer’s own Forge TV platform. And, once the game is complete, the money given to the developers will be used to give away copies of the game on Razer’s Cortex storefront.
This means that if a developer is given $100,000 and sells the game at $10, the developer will be give away 1,000 copies of the game on Cortex. The developer is still able to publish their game on as many other platforms as they like at the same time.
“The financial terms remain largely the same,” Tan said. “This was a marketing campaign for Ouya to bring games to the Ouya platform exclusively. We don’t want exclusives for any platform. What we will ask for is that whatever sums we invest in a game, we would like that same amount to be given away on Cortex.”
So, despite this deal causing a lot of fear and loathing for the new Forge TV developers, Razer has stepped up and given a solution that benefits both parties involved. Unlike the original OUYA deal, developers will receive the money and are not forced into an exclusivity deal on a platform that may not be beneficial. Tan has also stated that Razer was unaware of OUYA’s debts at the time of purchase.