Crowdfunding site Kickstarter has suspended Ouya exclusive Elementary, My Dear Holmes.
Holmes was one of two games to arouse suspicions late last month after receiving a number of not only unusually high pledges, but also pledges from accounts using fake or celebrity names.
Both Holmes and another title, Gridiron Thunder, were aiming for funding under Ouya’s Free The Games Games Fund that matches any funds raised on Kickstarter (up to $250k) for titles that pledge Ouya exclusivity.
The accusation is that both games have faked pledges in order to secure what would effectively amount to free funding from Ouya.
"Kickstarter did not provide a reason for the suspension of the campaign, instead stating that they do not comment on suspensions,” the CEO of Holmes developer Victory Square Sam Chandola told Kotaku.
Victory Square Games definitely denies setting up a Kickstarter account or accounts to fund its own projects, or asking any other person or organization to do so on its behalf.
The issues that were raised were quite alarming, and we wanted nothing to do with it, so I wrote to Ouya, Kickstarter and Amazon informing them of the situation. My hope had been that Kickstarter would investigate the matter and cancel any pledges from accounts that were deemed suspicious.”
Chandola added that since the suspension he has received backing from some unspecified VC firms and still intends to produce the project. He would not confirm whether or not the game would remain Ouya exclusive.
Ouya’s stance remains non-committal. It told Kotaku that it only pays out on Fee The Games Fund titles that are successfully Kickstarted – therefore Holmes will not receive any cash unless Kickstarter lifts its suspension.
Gridiron Thunder, however, is still in line to receive $171k in Ouya funding, despite the many questions that surround its pitch.
The saga is generating a fair bit of negative feeling online amongst developers.
Thomas Was Alone creator Mike Bithell was particularly vocal with his criticism on Twitter over the weekend, stating: A few rich guys manipulating OUYA into giving them a ton of money for a shoddy thing. No Ouya exclusive can get that amount without nonsense like this. Could a high profile indie with an awesome pitch get up to $50k on Kickstarter with a six month Ouya exclusivity? I’m struggling to imagine that actually being possible i.e. this scheme cannot fund legitimate projects.
There’s no way I want to bring a project to a system run by the kinda people who would come up with such a silly scheme. It’s a dumb PR stunt, which is throwing money at charlatans and keeping great projects off their platform.”
The threat to omit Ouya from any future development plans was backed by other developers, too, including Super Hexagon and VVVVVV creator Terry Cavanagh.