The Kickstarter campaign for Ouya title Gridiron Thunder has aroused suspicions this week after it managed to reach its $75,000 goal with a very low number of backers.
Gridiron Thunder is, put simply, a pro football game designed for Ouya, Facebook, and iOS and Android devices. At launch, it will be available exclusively on Ouya for six months. This is in order to take advantage of Ouya's Free the Games Fund, an initiative that will double the money (up to $250,000) raised by any Kickstarter game campaign, so long as it pledges six months of exclusivity to Ouya and raises at least $50,000.
Along with Elementary, My Dear Holmes!, Gridiron Thunder is one of the first two games to meet its crowdfunding goal and the fund's requirements. Having surpassed its Kickstarter goal of $75,000, Gridiron developer MogoTXT will see upwards of $78,000 from Ouya, and possibly much more as the campaign runs through September 8.
Where this all begins to become suspicious is with the identity of Gridiron's backers, of which there are not many. Some people are alleging that many of the project's backers have been fabricated in an attempt to squeeze money out of Ouya.
As of this writing, the campaign has raised $78,340 from 137 backers. That's just under an astounding $572 pledged by each backer -- and that's a sharp decline from earlier in the campaign, when the average pledge was $626 per person. For comparison's sake, the average pledge per backer for Double Fine's adventure game, Project Eternity, and Wasteland 2 -- some of the most highly funded video game Kickstarter campaigns to date -- was $38, $54, and $48, respectively. Even Ouya itself, which required pledges of at least $95 in order for backers to receive an Ouya console, saw an average of only $136 per person.
Peculiar as these numbers might be, they prove nothing. Adding further fuel to the fire is the fact that many of the backers used newly created profiles on Kickstarter. As noted on NeoGAF, among these are different profiles that have the same name as each another, and some which share the same last name as MogoTXT CEO Andrew Won. And, despite the large amount donated by backers, very few of the higher donation tiers have been chosen, meaning these individuals decided to pass up the rewards they were entitled to.
There's also the atypical pattern at which donations came in at, as shown on Kicktraq, which looks a great deal unlike most other successful Kickstarters. However, it's possible that could be explained by the low number of backers, which is different from anything we've seen before from a campaign that has raised this much money.
Ouya's response to all of this has been one of support. Asked on Twitter if it would be looking into the matter, Ouya responded, "We're thrilled to see Gridiron qualify for the FTG fund & hopefully they'll bring their supportive community with them to OUYA!" It offered a similar sentiment in a statement shared with Joystiq. It stated, "[B]ased on our program's guidelines, the team behind Gridiron Thunder have successfully qualified to receive the match and we couldn't be more excited to see them bring their game along with their supportive community to Ouya."
As for MogoTXT's position on all of this, CEO Andrew Won has denied any wrongdoing. In a statement issued to Gamasutra, which the site pointed out dealt more with questions it hadn't asked than those it had, Won said, "We are not trying to do something improper with Ouya's Free the Games promotion, and we are in full compliance with both KickStarter's and Ouya's rules."
Won attempted to explain the amounts donated by backers by saying, "We have had some generous donors but so have other KickStarter campaigns. In our case, we have very deep roots in Silicon Valley and great ties to fellow tech entrepreneurs in the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond. We also have friends in the professional sports world who want to see us succeed. I don't think there is anything wrong with having generous supporters, and we make no apology for this. It does not violate any KickStarter or Ouya rule."
He also dismissed questions of whether or not MogoTXT had the rights to release a football game that features the likenesses of present-day NFL players. "Some people, who are not lawyers and who have no knowledge of the facts, also said that we lack the intellectual property rights to build our game. They have no idea what they are talking about," he said.
Ouya has informed the Penny Arcade Report that the Free the Games Fund will only match 25% of the total raised through Kickstarter at first. The remaining 75% will not be handed over until the game has been released. In other words, should Gridiron Thunder turn out be a scam, as many people suspect, MogoTXT would not receive the bulk of the money it's now entitled to unless it releases a game on Ouya.
As of yet, there has been no definitive evidence presented to suggest Gridiron Thunder is not what MogoTXT claims it to be. Ouya has given no indication that it plans to exclude the game from its development initiative, nor has Kickstarter publicly called the campaign's legitimacy into question.
Do you think it's unfair to raise an eyebrow at the game based on this evidence, or are gamers right to do so considering it's the public's money that backs games on Kickstarter? Let us know in the comments.
Source : ign[dot]com