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Ouya CEO 'surprised' by reaction to Free The Games fund, but 'sticking with it'

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Ouya founder and CEO Julie Uhrman says she's surprised by the response to her company's Free The Games Fund, a $1 million program that promises to match crowdfunding donations for video game projects that find success on Kickstarter. Uhrman's post, written in the wake of allegations surrounding two Kickstarter projects tied to the Free the Games initiative, says the idea behind the program "seems to have been lost."

"This response surprised us," Uhrman wrote. "We thought this was going to be great — how could it not be? We launched the Free The Games Fund to find great games from the very platform that gave us life. We wanted to make magic happen and help developers bring their games to Ouya. We wanted to include gamers in the process of discovering great games."

Within the last week, two early Free The Games Fund success stories made headlines for the unusual circumstances surrounding their Kickstarter campaigns. Football game Gridiron Thunder came under suspicion when its campaign closed with more than $170,000 in pledges from only 183 backers. Two days earlier, the Kickstarter campaign for Elementary, My Dear Watson was suspended — despite being successfully funded — after its creator reported unusual backer activity.

Uhrman doesn't address those games specifically in her blog post, only hinting at allegations directed at Ouya.

"In launching this campaign, we’ve been called everything from naive and foolish to crazy and idealistic," she wrote. "This is not the first time we’ve been called any of that. Maybe we’re naive … and yes we’re definitely idealistic. It’s gotten us this far. ... If we can put aside the doubt and embrace the spirit of this fund as it is meant, and of Ouya as it is meant, we might just be surprised by what a little positivity can produce."

On Twitter, Uhrman said it will continue to pursue the program, tweeting, "No we are not changing the Free The Games Fund. We are sticking with it."

Uhrman says that more than 40 developers have contacted Ouya about its Free the Games Fund and notes that Kickstarter campaigns for other titles, including Neverending Nightmares, FFZ and Bionic Fighters, are currently ongoing.