Android game console maker Ouya has launched a $1 million fund to kickstart exclusive games on its platform.
Ouya will create what it calls the Ouya Free the Games Fund to support projects on Kickstarter. Ouya will give matching funds ranging from $50,000 to $250,000 for game projects that hit their targets and raise at least $50,000 on the crowdfunding site.
“We wanted to support the Kickstarter platform that gave us our start,” Julie Uhrman, the chief executive of Ouya, told GamesBeat.
Developers who raise their money on Kickstarter and accept Ouya’s matching funds have to agree to sell their games exclusively on Ouya for at least six months. The program lasts for a year from Aug. 9 to Aug. 10, 2014.
Uhrman said the company is happy to have launched its console on June 25 with more than 150 games, and she said Ouya has more than 250 games available today on what she calls an open game console for the television.
“That’s more than any other console launch,” she said.
But Uhrman said that the company wants to reach out to more inventive and creative developers who will be able to produce more games for years to come.
“Some of our most popular games began as Kickstarter projects,” she said.
Among those games are Fist of Awesome (from the developer I Fight Bears), Saturday Morning RPG (Mighty Rabbit Studios), and upcoming games Broken Age (Tim Schafer and Double Fine Productions) and Whispering Willows (Night Light Interactive).
Those games are being built by indies. More than 21,000 developers have downloaded the company’s software development kit. Uhrman isn’t under the illusion that the giants of the game publishers such as Electronic Arts and Activision Blizzard will make games for the Ouya, but she says her focus is on games that are fun. She doesn’t care that you won’t slog through the games for 40 hours. Rather, she says that laughter and excitement are what Ouya is bringing back to the living room.
She says that exclusives are important to the Ouya as well, but the microconsole doesn’t necessarily need big-budget titles. It just needs fun games, Uhrman said.
To be eligible for matching funds, the games must launch on Kickstarter on Aug. 9 or after and conclude their campaigns by Aug. 10, 2014. The minimum amount to be raised must be $50,000. Those games must hit their Kickstarter funding goals, and if they do, Ouya will match 100 percent of the raised funds up to $250,000. Ouya will reward an extra $100,000 Rock Star Bonus to the developer that raises the most money on Kickstarter.
It isn’t a ton of money, but it is what Ouya can afford.
“We wanted to offer an amount of money that could make a difference for developers,” Uhrman said. “We have a great relationship with Kickstarter. We don’t have to be the only ones deciding if a game is great for our audience.”
The company raised $15 million in venture capital funding from Mayfield Fund and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. That is on top of the $8.5 million raised in a record campaign on Kickstarter last year.
The machine sells for $99, and most of the games are free to try. Reviews have been rough for both the hardware and the games. Critics have complained that there isn’t a big hit among them. But Uhrman said, “Our killer app is Towerfall,” a $15 game by developer Matt Thorson. She said critics have now discovered it and are writing about it on a daily basis.
“Ouya has games today from every type of genre,” she said. “The games aren’t 40 hours. That’s not the point. They just have to be fun. We would like a great first-person shooter. But how about a new one, from a developer that no one has heard of? We will get them. Our developers have had our kits for only six months at the most.”