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Dev says he gamed Kickstarter for Ouya fund

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Ouya's Free the Games Fund continues to be embroiled in controversy, with a game developer claiming today that Ouya pulled funding for the title after the studio spoke openly about the way in which it was taking advantage of the fund.

SuckerFree Games originally raised $5,177 on Kickstarter for Dungeons: The Eye of Draconus in the spring of 2011, but after a series of unfortunate events, the company launched a new Kickstarter campaign last month. The studio was asking for an additional $10,000 to enable it to complete The Eye of Draconus by PAX Prime 2014 next summer. SuckerFree also tied the funding drive to Free the Games, and was hoping to raise a minimum of $50,000 so it could qualify for the program, which would have seen the micro-console manufacturer double SuckerFree's final Kickstarter tally.

The Eye of Draconus Kickstarter campaign was languishing below the $5,000 mark until Sept. 12, when it jumped up by more than $20,000, and then pulled in just over $30,000 the next day, bringing its total above $50,000 — the minimum amount to earn a place as a Free the Games title. In a backers-only Kickstarter update posted last week, SuckerFree acknowledged the controversy surrounding the Free the Games Fund and, in "a bid for transparency," admitted that it gamed the system so the father of creator William McDonald could contribute to the campaign, reported IndieHaven.

It now appears that Ouya didn't take kindly to the studio's subterfuge. In a public Kickstarter update posted today, McDonald announced that SuckerFree was canceling the campaign with less than two days to go because Ouya pulled out. He also lashed out at Ouya for what he characterized as reneging on a pledge to help fund The Eye of Draconus, saying, "It appears we were thrown under the [Free the Games] bus. Ouya gets their fall guy and [Gridiron Thunder, another controversial Free the Games title] keeps their money."

He continued, "If we had remained silent we very likely would have received the funds; our transparency and honesty apparently was our undoing." According to McDonald, only $4,055 of the campaign's total consisted of crowdsourced contributions that didn't come from family or friends.

Gridiron Thunder developer MogoTXT raised $171,009 on Kickstarter from only 183 backers, for a suspiciously high average of $934.48 per contributor. Studio head Andrew Won told Polygon that there was nothing untoward about the campaign's contributions when we investigated the Free the Games Fund and titles associated with it.