What they say: Video games just feel bigger and better on a TV screen. Surround Sound. HD. A room full of friends. Console gaming isn’t going anywhere, but console games aren’t as much fun as they could be.
That’s why we made OUYA: a new kind of game console, to bring groundbreaking games to the television in an entirely new way.
What I say: On the surface the Ouya seems like a good idea. Using its own version of the Android operating system, the Ouya claims to bring casual games to the big screen and make them more fun to boot. If that’s the case then why is it being ignored on an epic scale? Like I said on the surface it looks good. The price is right at $99, and all the games are free to try. That means not getting stuck with stinkers, right? Several indie and big time developers are on board (see game list here) so obviously the problem is with PR and marketing.
Before I go any further take a look at this…
Wow. I mean just wow. Who is this supposed to be geared at? Shut-ins? Those wacky gamers? Mutants? I’m just confused and horrified. Mostly horrified. But this…ad…is just horribly wrong and really kind of insulting. Because everyone knows that gamers are fat dudes in their drawls acting silly over games, am I right? But let’s be honest, in order to manage a cock up of this magnitude there have to be deeper issues here.
Lets look at how the system launched. It was funded on Kickstarter with backers promised a unit before release. Naturally that went horribly wrong. Some folks got theirs but a lot didn’t. Meanwhile units went to retail and Ouya sure didn’t have any problem shafting the people that helped make the system happen in order to get units on the shelves. Sure they offered “free games” to those affected but aren’t the games free anyways? Really it just seemled like too little too late.
Ouya was even dismissive to the gaming press. You know, the people who cover this stuff for the folks who would potentially buy it. Now some reviews popped up early but those came from backers (you know the ones lucky enough to get what they paid for). Other than the biggest gaming sites like IGN and big name sites like CNET there was not much coverage. Instead of making sure gamers were aware of the console Ouya engaged in moronic stunts like giving them away at the MTV Video Music Awards. You know to celebrities…celebrities who like expensive stuff. Can you imagine this scene…
Party at Ice T’s Crib!
Ice T: Look here son I am playing Black Ops II on my diamond crusted Xbox 360!
Ice Cube: Shit fool, I am playing Grand Theft Auto V on my PS made out of gold!
Miley Cyrus: Holla y’all I am playing my free Ouya!
Ice T and Ice Cube: Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha!
Yeah. You know it would go exactly like that. So instead of worrying about getting the word out to thrifty gamers, they wasted God knows how many units on folks that will throw them in their closets and forget about them or give them to homeless folks that don’t have electricity…or TVs. Stunts like this only show how little Ouya staff understand the market.
But the bad news keeps pouring in for Ouya. Like the fact that 73% of Ouya owners have never purchased a single game, not a one. But then again when you give them to people that don’t want them, it shouldn’t be the least bit shocking. If I was a developer for Ouya I would be pissed. It seems like its hard to turn a profit on a smaller game anyway, let alone if you are saddled with a such a poorly run ecosystem.
But the latest cock up is perhaps its most telling. Ouya started a “Free the Games” fund. If your game gets funded on Kickstarter Ouya will match funds in exchange for a window of exclusivity. Naturally things have gone horribly wrong. Since the rules were overly vague, people are being screwed out of their promised funds. Now rules are surely made to be followed but if the floor shifts as you go and with Kickstarter chiming in as well, its yet another bad scene.
Ouya CEO Julie Uhrman has “clarified” things and made a statement. Once again is it too little too late? Should ANY developer give these people the time of day? Should we? And how the hell does she still have a job?