Friday, 13 July 2012

Ouya News - Kickstarter Already at Four Million

More thoughts on the little system with the funny name.
It hasn't even been a handful of days since I gave a little bit of coverage to what in my eyes is a strange new contender in the console race: the Ouya. Like a lot of projects these days, a Kickstarter has been founded for the console; what's different -- although perhaps not shockingly so -- is how much support the Ouya has already received. At the time of this writing and as the title of the article suggests, the Ouya has accrued over four million dollars of funding, or roughly four million two hundred fifty thousand at the time of this writing.

There's no denying that at this point the Ouya seems poised to become one of the most backed projects ever on Kickstarter. Whether or not that bubble will burst is a topic that falls outside of this particular piece, although the contention over that is nearly as intriguing. What has become clear in the massive outpouring of funding in basically three days is that the Ouya stands to be huge: of course that could equally mean a huge success or huge failure. Either way it's too soon to know.

Much of the Ouya has really yet to be fleshed out, which shouldn't be surprising considering that the project just went public roughly a week ago. There's a lot of skepticism, and I must admit that some of it seems at least a tad justified. The idea that the console would essentially be a homebound Angry Birds player doesn't seem very appealing after all, despite any inherent novelty there might be with it at first. However, one of the Q&A segments offers what I believe to be some crucial clarification regarding the "free-to-play" idea.

Q: When you say "free games" what do you mean exactly?
A: We want you to pay only for the games you love. A “free to play” model works when everyone (gamers and game makers) benefits from directly rewarding amazing games.

For gamers, every game will be free to play: what this means is that there will at least be a free demo, or you’ll be able to play the entirety of the game for free but may have access to additional items, upgrades, or other features that come at a cost.

For developers, free to play means that they can set their own prices. Developers know best: There is no better way to sell a game than to have folks that have actually touched the game share glowing reviews with their friends. By allowing some form of free play, we’ll help them do just that. The only reason you used to pay for games before playing them is that you couldn’t try them at the store before you brought them home – it’s a relic of an old way of doing business, and one of the many things about the games business we plan to change. 

What this means is that there is potential here for a market closer to the current norm. Of course you could argue that having a business model that incorporates such things seems to be somewhat counter-intuitive, but if the Ouya has mostly Android based games with a smattering of the more traditional fare then it could entice people who might not be interested in the console's more unique merits but are drawn in by the price point or some other feature.

Part of what piqued my interest was something that I found linked from the Kickstarter; it's a list of the games that people want to see on the console, and to me the list was actually quite surprising. Certainly some of the expected games, such as Minecraft and Super Meat Boy are on the list, but there's also some of the most popular current franchises like Battlefield, Grand Theft Auto, and even Assassin's Creed are featured. It is important to note that the list is nothing more than a survey of the games that people want to see on the system, rather than games that will actually be showing up. Still, it shows that people are keen on having both what the Ouya is promising, as well as more "traditional" triple A titles as well. I'm not sure if that will boil down to having your cake and eating it too or not, but at the moment I guess that could really be said regarding most of it.

I'm not in any particular camp regarding the Ouya right now, but I think that I could certainly benefit from trying to find out more about it. Who knows, maybe I can even land a couple of interviews or something. I guess we'll just have to see what the future holds.


  1. We think it's a daring move but it's going to take a community of designers and developers working together to make it a success.

    You're right that some of the games people are asking for are unrealistic but at least people are voicing what they want. The OUYA will probably thrive more on independent smaller games which is where we're hoping this is a success.

    It has the potential to give indi game designers and opportunity to make console based games that are plug an playable. So we understand that some of the responsibility of success falls on us as developers that's why we're trying to start a development community to get that ball rolling.

    Thanks for you decently balanced review. It's better than some of the other guys out there.

  2. I'm still on the fence on the Ouya myself, my mouse cursor hovering over that donation button every few days as I ponder. I think I will kick in a bit before their funding call is done... but I'm still skeptical.


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