In trying to woo game developers, OUYA is making a move that might not sit well with a number of gamers. In the coming weeks, OUYA will be removing the hard requirement for developers to follow a free-to-try model and let them decide whether to ask for payment upfront or not.
The previous business model adopted by the the startup was, to some extent, more favorable to gamers and buyers. It calls back to a time when games had demos you can try out first before deciding whether it's worth buying. In the mobile gaming world, particularly on Android, games are mostly split between free-to-play with in-app purchases, or pay-to-play, sometimes with in-app purchases as well. Apparently, many game developers targeting the OUYA platform didn't like being forced to straddle the middle ground.
Various reasons came over over the course of OUYA's existence that pointed to difficulties in the required trialware model. Some simply do not know how to make a good demo version, while others don't have the resources, financial or human, to make one. Some games do no lend themselves to be tried before playing and others simply appeal to be given the freedom to choose the business model they want. OUYA has finally heard their cries and will be waiving that requirement. Developers can still offer a free-to-try system, but they will no longer be forced to do so if they don't want to.
OUYA explains that this decision is all about choice and that it has always worked to empower developers, which in a business would also mean helping them make money. And since the strength of a gaming console lies heavily on the games available for it, OUYA really needs to entice more developers to its platform. Whether majority of games on OUYA suddenly turn pay-to-play, and whether it will still well with gamers, only time can now tell.