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Razer buys out OUYA software and storefront, then gets into trouble over OUYA’s pledges to indie devs

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The struggling indie console and software platform Ouya has certainly had it’s ups and downs. With a lack of serious support from major developers and publishers, a few creative and design missteps, and a series of issues with marketing the platform, the Android-based gaming console looked to be doomed from the get go according to many critics.

The design, content, and usability choices for the hardware seem to have caused it’s death knell. Razer, one of the biggest names in consumer-grade gaming and PC accessories  have announced a full buyout of all Ouya technology with the exception of the hardware and related designs.

Razer is one of those companies that has so many products that they seem to be building their brand to transition into a boutique retailer. Not that this is actually the case. But nonetheless, their lineup now includes an indie-focused gaming platform. Now everything seems like smooth sailing for Razer to expand further into the Android lineup, right? Wrong!

A promise on behalf of Ouya’s creators to establish a fund of up to $1 million to support independent development for the platform seems to have slipped between the cracks. Many developers reacted to the announced buyout last week with disbelief, pointing out the fact that Ouya still owed some of the money from the promised fund. Razer quickly began to look into the issue. Initially, participation required that the Kickstarter raise at least $50,000, but that was later lowered to $10,000 after some loopholes caused the company to rework the rules.

The outcome was that 27 developers were accepted into the program and promised, in total, $1 million in matching funds. The money was to be doled out as milestones were hit.

About a half dozen of those developers hit all of the milestones and received all of the money.

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After discussing the Free the Games Fund with his staff and Ouya, Razer CEO Min-Liang Tan found that $620,000 of the original million dollars has still not been paid out. Most if not all of that money wasn’t paid because developers haven’t yet hit the milestone triggering payment.

Execs at Razer racked their brains and hashed out a new solution to assuage developer discontent while continuing the program. The new agreement is very similar, with a few exceptions.

The games released under the fund will no longer have to be exclusive to the platform. And the money given to developers will be used, once the game is published, to give away copies of the game to people on Razer’s Cortex storefront.

All other elements of the agreement, such as hitting milestones to receive payment, will remain intact. Under the original deal, developers were given the money in exchange for a month’s exclusivity for every $10,000 they were given, for up to a total of six months of exclusivity.

This new optional deal will only be offered to the remaining developers still participating in the fund. The motivation for this deal according to Razer is not so much about bringing content to the platform through exclusivity, but to encourage consumer interest with quality and marketable appeal.

It remains to be seen exactly how all this will play out, hopefully positively. As it could be a bright spot for new products of the kind in the future to succeed with the proper level of support.

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