Rose and Time no longer on OUYA

(if you bought the game on OUYA, you can still download it from my site instead of OUYA’s marketplace, email me and I’ll hook you up)

I’ve been stewing on this for a while, and made the decision this morning; I’ll be withdrawing Rose and Time from the OUYA marketplace.

The reason is not because of any flaw of the console (I love it), or the game (the OUYA version may even be the best), or sales (I average 1 sale per day, way more than elsewhere). The reason is because I am no longer comfortable supporting the OUYA company.

It’s not that they put out a tasteless advert, it’s not that the Free The Games Fund is a poor way of investing in interesting developers, it’s not that theyΒ shun the very developers they claim to want, it’s not that they support people using the fund that are clearly scammers.

It’s their inability to admit that they have fucked up. Shit is blowing up on all sides, every single piece of PR that is put out damages OUYA’s reputation more, and the plastic-marketing-smile never seems to come off. They never get serious to deal with stuff. They never change course when things are going down the toilet. They try to have this image of an indie, but it’s only an image. you can’t get a word out of the @playouya account that isn’t joyous celebration of something they are doing or enabling. A real indie has more faces than just “look at how well things are going for me”, we have to deal with all kinds of problems and we respond when people come to us with them. Responses like the one I read last nightΒ (weeks after the problem became apparent) feel entirely empty and dishonest to me. I know what honesty looks like, I know what dealing with problems looks like, and I sure as shit know what putting developers first should look like, and this isn’t it.

I have tried (desperately) to tell people that the console is good, well worth $100 and that there are some great games on there, that the policy of letting anyone publish on the console for free is amazing and a big step forward… but OUYA are making me look stupid for supporting them. and I don’t like being made to look stupid.

They have made it clear they care more about saving face (in who’s eyes I have no idea) than working to address the concerns of the developers and gamers they need the most.

Frankly, I wish I didn’t feel the need to do this; I love the console, I love developing for it, I love playing on it, I was super proud to hear Kellee Santiago (OUYA dev relations, who I have tons of respect for) say she liked my game and that it was featured on the store, I was super mega amazingly proud when I was asked to suggest some games to feature that I liked, I have really enjoyed the feedback from gamers who wouldn’t have found my game if it wasn’t for OUYA, and of course I have enjoyed actually getting consistent sales of the game even after I raised the price.

All of that is why it’s taken me this long to decide if I should really go through with pulling my game, but after reading Julie Uhrman’s blog post last night it became very apparent to me that the company does not support indie developers who need the support most, and that they are incapable of ever correcting their mistakes. I’m simply no longer comfortable supporting the company.

(shouldn’t have to say it but I will anyway; my decision to pull my game is not a call for others to do the same, or an implication that they should. My decision was very difficult for me and I have a great respect for all developers who continue to support OUYA… well, maybe not *all* developers…)

52 Comments on “Rose and Time no longer on OUYA”

  1. Luke says:

    If we can’t support each other then why be indie?

  2. […] β€œThe reason is not because of any flaw of the console (I love it), or the game (the Ouya version may even be the best), or sales (I average 1 sale per day, way more than elsewhere). The reason is because I am no longer comfortable supporting the Ouya company,” she posted on her blog. […]

  3. […] Houlden, who launched Rose and Time on Ouya in July, announced that she will be pulling the game from the Ouya store. Houlden said that after reading Uhrman’s response, “it became very […]

  4. I didn’t know you, your game, or (most of) the shitstorm surrounding Ouya’s conduct before Patrick Klepek’s article on Giant Bomb (link at the end of my comment).

    I’m a person who believes in integrity, guts, calling out bullshit when you see it, and disengaging from bullshit when you find yourself a part of it. I admire you and your decision to remove your game–and your name, and your reputation–from a system you no longer feel is operating ethically and intelligently.

    For that, I salute you. I have purchased Rose & Time straight from your site, because a good person, a good decision, and a good game should be supported.

    I look forward to playing Rose & Time. Stay awesome. πŸ™‚

  5. Jack says:

    I’m a little confused by your article. You say that you are pulling your game for their ‘inability to admit that they have fucked up’ but in the same article (3rd to last paragraph) list all the reasons the Ouya company have really helped you. It sound’s to me like the Ouya company have actually don’t quite a lot to support you and that the pro’s are out-weighing the con’s.

    • Sophie says:

      the pro’s are perilously close to outweighing the cons, but my confidence in the people running the show has been sapped massively, so I’m pulling out of the show. If I don’t have any faith in people in control of the platform, that’s pretty much a deal-breaker. Like I say though, it was definitely not an easy decision.

      • S.D. says:

        Can there be any chance of a restoration of faith, in which Sophie finds that her games (and future games) can come back to OUYA? I guess, more to the point, what steps could they take that would be (somewhat?) convincing that the necessary culture-change is taking place? Replacement of management? A long series of positive changes over time? Etc. I, like you, want to believe, and have beat the drum pretty hard, myself, but am continually finding heartache and disappointment. I’m working through the above, myself, and I’m hoping that some kind of reckoning can take place, one that I can feel good about (a.k.a., “i want to believe”?!)

        • Sophie says:

          there is definitely a chance, after all this kicked off Julie Uhrman got in touched with me and we had a pretty weighty chat. I’ve certainly had some measure of faith restored, and I have no doubt that my concerns have been heard, or that OUYA has anything but the best *intentions*. but whether things will be remedied in a way I can be OK with supporting OUYA again I don’t know. Time will tell but I do hope so.

          • Indie says:

            I mean no disrespect to you, Sophie. I think you’ve handled this all wonderfully. However, why does it take a developer taking drastic measures such as pulling their game from the store to get Julie to talk about concerns and intentions? What about the concerns of the Ouya customers that rose up 2-3 weeks ago about Gridiron Thunder? What about the still-present concern now that they are still set up to recieve $171k? What about concerns that was we backed with $8m+ is not what we have sitting in our homes today?

            I apprecite that Julie took the time to talk to you, but you’re not the only person she needs to be talking to. You’re not the only matter in all of this that needs to be addressed. If she thinks that joke of a blog post and an hour chat with yourself is going to blow this all over, she’s dead wrong.

            Ouya is done. They have messed up one too many times, and as you’ve said, they have not admitted to their mistakes along the way. If anything comes from Ouya, it will be that they showed the world that there is a desire for something like this. Sadly, they failed at it miserably to the point where their reputation is tarnished. I don’t see too many people sticking with Ouya for much longer. All we can do now is sit back and wait that someone else comes along and fulfills the same dream in a much better manner.

            I think you did the right thing and I hope you stick with your decision. Be vigilent with their future contact with you. They’ve lied enough as it is. Stay strong and determined. Someone will fill this void Ouya has dug themselves into. It may be a few years down the road, but the dream will be back. I pray that next time whoever is in charge of it, has the same dream the rest of us do as well. That’s where Ouya has failed. They started dreaming for themselves instead of continue to dream along with the rest of us.

            Much respect and many thanks,

          • Sophie says:

            definitely agree with the first two paragraphs, and fear you might be right with the third also.

            I don’t think OUYA isn’t dreaming the same dream as us, I just think they have been pretty flawed in when thinking about the best way to make it happen.

            anyway, thanks for the kind words.

          • S.D. says:

            Thank you so much for reading my words, and taking the time to reply to me. What you wrote about your interaction with Julie resonates with me, in regards to my interaction with the company in general. In fact, this is precisely the impression I have when interacting with them, including developer support folks! Everyone I’ve interacted with has a (seemingly) good heart, acts as though they are invested in continual improvement, and truly behaves as though they wish developers and customers to have a good experience.

            And then, on the other side, we have this string of faux pas incredibly unwise decision-making, true face-palm, rage-inducing moments.

            It feels so much like two separate companies at war with each other. One company is the scrappy-startup, building neat things that are fun to use, easy to develop for, and a joy to promote. They’re geeky, and funny, and they love their developers. The other is a Mr. Hyde of public relations, boorishly blundering through the fan-base in the most offensive and poorly-timed fashion possible, while sowing chaos and controversy simultaneously with every move.

            I find it incredibly frustrating, and it invites questions about how their promotions are vetted and managed internally, questions which should not have to be raised when one assumes that reasonable adults are carefully considering what the company says to the world.

            In regards to your statement on remediation, I, too, hope so. I’ll continue to support my friends in the dev community, as well as those who publish their promising creations with purchases, but I find myself unable to promote the company directly. I truly enjoy playing on my console, and aside from having my controllers replaced free of charge, I haven’t experienced the troubles that have been reported (shipping problems, wireless, etc). It’s heartbreaking to me (and embittering, as well) that OUYA could trash such overwhelming good-will in such a short time. I hope that Julie took note of this in her discussion with you, because it is (in my opinion) their most critical issue at present. I feel like their first step is simply to stop actively fucking up, and just let their devs continue to bring cool games. How hard can that possibly be?!

  6. Tim Morgan says:

    Put your games on the Nintendo eShop instead

  7. Alex says:

    I admire you sticking by what you believe. I first saw your anti-FTGF message on Twitter, and I must admit that I first thought it was an over reaction. Sure, Gridiron seemed dubious to me (their first video, for a start, seemed like a piss-take), and the shenanigans involving law suits, etc, but I didn’t feel that there was a reason for Ouya to have to take a stance on it at the time.

    However, after reading this blog, it does resonate with me, and there are many things about Ouya as a company that have jarred for me: I certainly know what you mean about the “plastic smile” which got rather wearing while I was (trying to) patiently waiting for my backer unit to be delivered. Their habitual putting-their-heads-in-the-sand approach to solving problems is most certainly going to back-fire, and it really is amazing that they have done so well in spite of everything they have (not) done. I find it amazing that every decision they make seems misguided from the start. Part of me wants to “believe” that they’ll learn.

    This is what makes your post resonate most – because I think there are many Ouya supporters that have been wavering for quite some time over a myriad of bad decisions, poor communication and a dash of apparent ignorance. It’s like they’re trying deliberately to alienate us all.

    So I applaud you for your decision. It’s a brave move, and hopefully someone, somewhere will learn from your message… whatever happens, taking this stance will have a positive effect overall.

  8. Kelthar says:

    You did what was right. I have quit numerous companies because I found out they had done things wrong. I know exactly how you feel! I respect that so much in another being.

  9. Aiursrage2k says:

    My god sophie you were only selling 1 unit a day on OUYA? Is that really the better then anywhere else — why dont you try to get on steam. See my thread about organ trail — if you are making a PC game its steam or die.

    • Sophie says:

      trying to get on steam would require going through greenlight which is a massive gamble of both time, money and stress; not a wise gamble IMO either. and I’d rather not support steam so long as such a gamble is the only way to get on without having some inside contact.

      • Sophie;

        Like many others I hadn’t heard about you or your game. Although I buy most of my games through steam, I will go ahead and buy a copy of your game to play it and give you my impressions.

        Like you we have a game on OUYA Marketplace, although not in the spotlight yours was…

        I have been reading left and right about the OUYA incident with the Free the Games Fund, and clearly, there was some foul play, and the fact that Julie Uhrman’s reply was so…. (reminds me of Microsoft Corporate Culture vs Apple), distasteful, has made lost what little faith I had for the company.

        We really aren’t getting any advertising from having Dawn Earth sitting in the pit they have it in the Ouya Marketplace, and we are not really making any significant money. I think we should at least support the integrity of developers like us (IndieHex) who could use a fund like that to make a really cool game, I’d rather be part of the group who are taking their games out of the OUYA marketplace. Even if we were making some good coin I think we need to stick together when things like this happen.

        We need to set the example to our future customers that this kind of behavior is not going to be tolerated. I don’t want OUYA to disappear into oblivion, I want them to stop, think and retract their statement to give us the environment they promised us. The only way this is going to happen is by having both developers and consumers hit them where it hurts the most, and that is with our product and with their wallets.

        I am pretty sure if Ouya suddenly didnt have any games to showcase and no consumers buying products, Julie Uhrman is going to have to retract that statement and give much thought at how they are going to survive at the micro-console entertaining field.

        So this weekend we will be pulling Dawn Earth out of the OUYA Marketplace to show our support for this grave situation.

        Lead Engineer

  10. Aiursrage2k says:

    I dont know if you are not making more money but you should put things on the unity asset store because I can sell more then 1 unit per day there with my starter kits. A good kit can sell 2x units a day at $40+ a pop.

    • Sophie says:

      wow, I’m massively surprised! I always assumed the asset store was a dead end for most items and only ever got sales when there was a big discount and announcements on the unity3d twitter feed. I’ll definitely consider it, I’m sure some systems I’ve made might be useful to someone, though my inclination is usually to give them away free ^__^;

      • you can post them for free there if you want, but if you can make some coin out of it, every little bit helps =)

      • NeedMoreLoot says:

        I always felt like the unity asset store was making more money than the indies. No proof of course, but I know more people with paid for plugins than games they’ve made out of them.

        I commend your inclination but say sell em!

  11. Eric Holsinger says:

    I read this post twice. Thank you for sharing your decision process. I really don’t understand; what DO you think OUYA should do or have done?

  12. […] Houlden, who launched Rose and Time on Ouya in July, announced that she will be pulling the game from the Ouya store. Houlden said that after reading Uhrman’s response, “it became very […]

  13. […] to boycott the Android system entirely. Among them indie champion Sophie Houlden, who has stated that she’s withdrawing her games from the OUYA marketplace, despite loving the console, […]

  14. Sophie,

    Would you be willing to sell the OUYA version or an Android version with standard HID gamepad support (almost identical to OUYA)? I’d like to support you, and those are the platforms I play games on.



    • Sophie says:

      I will be making the OUYA version available to people who buy the game from me, but I’m hesitant to support android without touchscreen support (I’ve tried it for this game and though it works, it just doesn’t feel great), and I’m doubly hesitant to support hardware I don’t actually have on hand to test with.

      It’s not impossible, but I’ve got other projects I’d rather be working on right now instead of making changes to this game, and I don’t have any money to pay someone to do it for me either ^__^;

  15. Smiley says:

    It’s a very noble thing to back down from something that you feel compromises your faith and trust.

    Your game did catch my eye thanks to the Ouya so I have to admit that it is sad to see it pulled from their marketplace. It’s not going to be just their loss. But if you feel this decision was the right course of action then I wish you all the best and hope it does well as do any other projects you have on the horizon.

    Regarding Ouya, I do want to support them. But they really need to break from this mess. And calling out their errors with the FTGF would be a start. There’s no decency in wasting away money the backer’s donated towards in the hopes of developing Ouya exclusives from cheating scam artists. It baffles me that they’re in full support instead of looking to reason and doing a thorough investigation. Even if they legally can’t back down from giving money to said scammers because they didn’t think their rules out thoroughly; just admitting there was fault would be progress.

    No one’s perfect. I’ve stuck by Sony and they’ve had their share of problems. But when something is really screwed up that it effects gamers and developers I have yet to see no solution that involved staying the course. I hope the people in charge of Ouya make a real response to salvage some dignity left.

  16. Ovogame says:

    Hi Sophie, I’ve read your post and I must admit that I don’t get it. I’ve been in the game industry (as a pro) since 1996. I’ve been running my own business (as an indie) since 2006. It looks like you have over reacted. You put a lot of love on ouya and suddenly this love as turn into hate. Really, you should take a break, and think about the situation for 10 minutes before taking extreme actions.

    The ouya business is not here to give you love but to do business, and that should be what you do to (indies are still doing business). Trust me, it looks like they gave you a lot of love, and for dealing with dozens of partners myself, I can guaranty that it is extremely rare and hard to get. I don’t get why you take out your game out of the ouya store. Why???? You are making money with them (even if it is a small amount). If they want to give their $ to some devs that might have cheated is their problem, not yours. The ouya team is probably thinking: ok they might have cheated but their game is good enough for our exclusive channel, so we are happy to pay for this one. What’s wrong with that? Let’s be honest, tiny dev like you and me, would never had reach the $50K threshold anyway, so why are you so upset, the FTG thingy wasn’t for us anyway.

    I’m sorry to say this but I think you reacted like a fanboy: you think with your heart. You over praised ouya, just to over react on the other way. You are creating games. GAMES matter, not the piece of hardware or the companies distributing them. By removing your game from ouya, you are hurting the people who paid for your game on that platform. Is this how indie should treat their supporting customers? I’m trying to get my games on must platforms as possible (so far PC/Mac/iOS/Android/BB10). I don’t put all my eggs into one basket. As far as I am concerned, the players matters, whatever their platform, and again, not the platform itself. Instead of removing your game, you could just have put less support on ouya and start working on new platforms (you should get a cheap android touch screen device and start working on touch devices)…

    Good luck with your business and next time think with your head, not your heart πŸ˜‰


    • Sophie says:

      JC, I don’t like your suggestion that I didn’t think about this before taking action; it took two weeks for me to come to this decision and it was still very difficult for me. I do not appreciate being painted as the “irrational woman”; I have made my reasoning quite clear here I think.

      As for the “OUYA is a business, they care about themselves, not about you” that’s not OUYA’s line at all, and hasn’t been from the start. Yes I love the console, but that hasn’t turned to hate (where on earth did you get that impression? because I swore perhaps?) and that is part of what drives this decision; I care a great deal, both about OUYA and how they treat developers. I felt that by doing this I could improve matters for both, and I hope that does work out.

      Yes, this is a little inconvenient for people who bought the game on OUYA, but I am doing all I can to make sure they still have access to the game.

      Also I am *already* working on some touch-screen games, and have one released already (if you’d care to check the big ‘shop’ link at the top of my page before making presumptions about how I work or what platforms I target you would have seen that.

      and again, not cool assuming I thought with my head and not my heart (do you have any idea how offensive that is?); I have clearly reasoned this out and if I was going by heart alone I would still be on the ouya now.

      • Ovogame says:

        Ok Sophie, didn’t meant to offend you, sorry if I did. Doesn’t look like you want to be told you’re wrong πŸ™‚ that’s fair enough.

        • D says:

          Kind of like that Uhrman blogpost right?

          No admission of wrong doing or wanting to be told she’s wrong? But by a much larger entity with a lot more at stake.

          Sophie is entitled to her “ideals” as much as any one else.

          Surely with the amount of “industry experience” you have, you can see how guilt by association can create problems for you down the road, especially since she WAS featured by OUYA at one point, and perhaps perceived as part of the collective.

          Nonetheless, she is following your advice by not supporting OUYA. She just did it far more suddenly than you would have, and has chosen to drop support entirely rather than reducing it to a sub-par experience over time. You should also know by now that industries evolve. There are a lot of highly competent developers who don’t have roots in the game industry at all that are making a go at it and doing fairly well. The self feeding buffet is done because the game industry just can’t survive alone on high budget titles. The turn toward self publishing is moving the courtship down to the level of the developers and not the executives of the big publishers.

          Companies that want the quality indies on the roster are receptive and listening (even Microsoft and Sony have taken note). It’s turning away from the highly connected, “it’s who you know” thing that existed in the previous decade where your industry-specific experience really counted much much more.

          Sophie’s choice (heh) was to react in the way she did, or not react at all. Ironically, it does actually kind of come off as the famous “Sophies Choice” if you really read her blog post.

          Say what you want about the over-reaction, but it got her heard. It probably won’t do anything, but that goal was accomplished. The good news is, there are plenty of other microconsole options out there, and they’re going to be just as hungry for content.

          I’m sure GameStick will be more than happy to have her there, and OUYA’s customers (and I mean the non-emulators.. the ones that actually make them money) are going to follow where ever the tide of good content takes them.

          That said, I see some of your points about possibly painting this decision as ungrateful. However, don’t forget that OUYA saw benefit from her title as much as she did since they are a start up with a very VERY limited selection. Their investment was minimal, but they got 30% of each of her daily purchases. Was it great that she was a benefactor? Sure. Would she see that exposure elsewhere? That’s debatable. But OUYA wasn’t burdened by any means by showing her any special treatment. OUYA gets daily submissions of apps. They chose hers due to the quality involved and her visibility outside of that process.

          In the end.. it’s was even field, and they took it one step too far backward. And while I do agree with your support the gamer’s perspective, the damage Sophie has done there is far less than the long term association or perhaps gaining “industry experience” in believing that’s how things are done.

        • Crystal says:

          Looks more like you don’t like being told you’re wrong. Sophie made a decision, and you assumed things about her decision that ended up not being true.

  17. DiRT says:

    I’m having a really hard time figuring out what the issue is here. What’s wrong with the fund? Is the fact that someone might try to scam it a problem that causes you to walk away from the company? Is it that they want to attract games that reach a certain budget in the attempt to find games of a certain quality? Is that they are tying it to Kickstarter instead of just writing checks to people they like?

    I mean, I really don’t see what it is you’re rallying against. I don’t see what the concerns are that developers are crying foul over. I see a lot of people saying that they don’t like the decisions being made, but not which decisions and why. I’m trying to piece it together, but I can’t make the picture come together.

    I hope I’m not coming off as some kind of troll here. I’m not trying to be hyper-critical of those heaping criticism. I just can’t seem to connect the dots. WHAT’S THE PROBLEM HERE?

    • Sophie says:

      My main objections aren’t with the fund, rather the way OUYA has been positioning itself lately. not listening to developers and preferring to grandstand, of which the FTG fund has just been the most recent, and most notable example.

      Which isn’t to say I am in favour of FTG fund right now, it’s just that what ticked me off the most was OUYA not admitting it needed to change. The reasons there are problems with it are numerous and some of what you bring up. Yes, it definitely looks attractive to scammers, but that isn’t the main problem in my opinion; without the fund changing there’s going to be a decent number of people on the internet who think any legitimate developer aiming for the fund is also a scammer. not changing the rules means some developers are going to be taking abuse from that. probably not phil-fish levels of developer-abuse, but certainly enough that they will hold back from participating.

      What’s more the fund isn’t particularly well informed about the kind of developers it can help, it wants to be a way of enabling exciting content on OUYA that doesn’t exist anywhere else. but with a minimum cap of $50k, it favours developers who already have money (as well as time) to throw at a KS. Developers with money either aren’t making original games (hello majority of AAA industry), or have made their money off original games and don’t need a fund like FTG anyway. FTG is an opportunity to help out a whole, well, ‘class’ of developers who are struggling right now, but making amazing things. They can’t get $50k (certainly not when they are asking backers to wait for a title to be 6-month exclusive on a console they don’t have), and they don’t need $50k either; to many of us $10k would make all the difference.

      Another matter is definitely the kickstarter aspect of it; most people don’t have an ouya, yet it’s asking people who won’t get the games (or not quickly) which games get funded; rather than asking the audience of OUYA itself. They should be the ones crowd-deciding which games get funding, if OUYA aren’t going to do their own curation process with developers (which I understand they have already done with some developers, but FTG is something different)

      Another problem is it’s wasteful of the money they have available; the games that make the most money get even more (with a $100k bonus to the game that makes the most) – that’s giving money specifically to the developers who need it the least, and helping fewer developers than the fund can.

      of course OUYA aren’t obligated to help developers out, or use the fund in the most beneficial way… but that’s not what anyone at OUYA would argue. but they don’t get to argue that they are for developers and then not change course when the majority of us say what they are doing is not helping.

      there are other problems with FTG too; exclusivity is becoming very old-school for indies (I don’t think even sony/MS are asking for it these days), wording that is insulting to some developers (“if you cant raise the money maybe you shouldn’t be making games” or something like that), not pulling money from scammers (or at least not announcing that they will) even though the terms’ wording gives them every right to.

      but again; none of this is why I pulled my game, it’s OUYA’s lack of satisfactory response to such criticism that makes it feel like they aren’t “for developers”, that we are just part of some audience instead of a partner working to bring cool games to people.

      sorry for all the words, but I hope some of them answer your questions πŸ™‚

  18. Evan says:

    I remember hearing a lot of buzz about your game, but I haven’t turned on my OUYA in a few weeks (which is telling in and of itself). I was looking forward to trying it.

    Is it possible to buy it from your store then move it to the OUYA?

  19. Andy H says:

    Credit for doing what you believe is right and hopefully it will help OUYA re-evaluate what it should be doing to help indies of all shapes and sizes.

  20. […] However, she recently pulled her game Rose and Time from the console. She lists her reasoning in this blog post, which conveniently sums up why I have no plans to ever port Another Star to […]

  21. […] the responses that seemed to resonate with a lot of developers came from Sophie Houlden, who wrote her own blog post detailing why she pulled her game Rose & Time from […]

  22. Borodin says:

    Great blog. I just bought Rose and Time (on Windows) largely because you both talk and personify sense.

  23. […] developer Sophie Houlden had been critical of the Ouya promotion when Uhrman issued her first response, and pulled her game Rose Time from the […]

  24. […] in September because she was “no longer comfortable supporting the Ouya company.” As she wrote, those behind the microconsole had an “inability to admit that they have fucked up.” […]

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