The OUYA open source video game console - How excited are we?

The OUYA Kickstarter has shattered records, raising $1.5 million in its first day (at the time of this post, it sits at $3.5 million).

When I first saw this, I got insanely excited. This thing could do for consoles what Steam did for PCs. I had planned to pledge $100, I still may. It looks like they’ve got a functional prototype and everything. But then I remembered the Phantom, and I got worried. What if these guys are just Infinium Labs, but with brains?

I’m still in the process of investigating the OUYA, and there’s 28 days left on the Kickstarter, but they seem legit. Unlike the Phantom, OUYA appears to have kept its mouth shut until they actually had a functional prototype. They also have the feel of creators excited about the thing they have created and poised to spring it upon the masses; all Infinium Labs was able to intimate was that they were really, really excited to be getting your investment dollars.

So has anyone else heard anything? Is anyone else donating to the Kickstarter? Should my excitement be unbridled, or condemned to one of those demeaning leash-harnesses that sadistic parents make their young children wear?

Can I go with cautiously optimistic? My default reaction would be immediate dismissal, but it looks like they planned this out pretty well before putting it up there. The significant amount of support that it’s already received is pretty huge as well, as one would think that it increases the chance of a product of some kind coming to market by quite a bit. If the worst case scenario is a $99 method of watching SC2 casts on my HDTV, that’s better than nothing.

That said, I’m still a little worried about the proposed hardware: likely better than the current Wii, but probably not as powerful as even the current generation XBox and PS3. I’m not sure that’s what I’m looking for. Minecraft also isn’t that big a draw for me on its own, so I’d at least like to see that there will be something available in the various genres that I usually play. After all, I’m at a point where my game playing time is a significantly rarer and more valuable commodity than my game playing money, and I don’t think I’m alone here (hellooooooo, Steam Summer Sale beginning again tomorrow?!). Content is king, and all that.

Did that crush your excitement enough? I can try some more, if you’d like, just to be safe.

Not to be overly cynical, but I don’t think anything will come of it.

I don’t think it’s a scam or anything like the Phantom, mind you, but I don’t really see what it offers beyond a $100 box that you can make into a media center or something. I’m not aware of any Android games that have much going for them beyond the “you can play this wherever” factor and I could always hook my computer up to my TV if I wanted to play indie games there.

What good’s a console without any game designers?

Currently, no one is making Triple-A console games - such as you would see on the xBox 360 or Playstation 3 - for the Android OS. That means for at least the next couple of years, the only games for this thing will be a) ports of other console games (assuming that’s even viable) or b) ports of Android tablet games. And, maybe, Minecraft. They haven’t even sent out dev kits yet.

From the developer’s point of view - yeah, it’s nice not having to go through MS or Sony, but unless the Ouya has actual marketshare (and no, 30,000 backers on Kickstarter doesn’t constitute “marketshare”) then they’re better off making an indie PC game and doing their own Kickstarter.

They’re not going to sell a lot of consoles unless they can get some big names and some big games - which they won’t get unless they sell a lot of consoles.

Based on the stupid name alone, I don’t have high hopes. I mean seriously, Ouya? If the same people that came up with that name for a console are also the ones making other important decisions, then they’re screwed.

Well, in fairness, it’s still not as stupid as the “Wii U”.

It’s pointless.

The included hardware makes it a glorified cell phone that you plug into your TV.

With smart TV’s starting to come out, cheap laptops that can don a lot more than this thing, next gen consoles, cloud gaming, it’s like coming out with a really good SD TV 5 years ago.

It’s just not the future. The console market exists because huge, conglomerates spend untold billions of dollars in marketing and supporting and subsidizing hardware. Otherwise they’d be dead on arrival, which is what’s going to happen here.

If this thing was some type of plugin hardware the was put inside TV’s by manufacturers, making it easy for them to add a gaming service with some 3D rendering capabilities, THEN I could see this being something to possibly get exited about.

This is a very good point, but I think the market share question still remains to be seen. Yes, 30,000 pre-orders on Kickstarter doesn’t constitute “market share,” but it’s a base to build from.

Their product is a $100 console that, at the very least, could become another casual games machine (the road to that market having already been paved by the Wii). Unlike the Wii, it has a standard controller, so it could more easily accept ports of existing games (rather than the Wii, which required a complete, and often slapdash, remapping of the controls). Though I’ll admit: ports of existing games is not going to make this thing a hit. However, nobody was buying the Wii because they wanted to play a port of Call of Duty.

Still, this thing is cheaper than the Wii and it’s something new and interesting. That may be enough to get it started.

Before I say anything else: these people don’t even have a freaking website. They have a wiki - with one page on it.

They have a twitter, which was only started a week ago -

They have a domain, - which just points to the Kickstarter page.

Seriously. Do not give these people any more money.

The numbers just don’t work. Successful games on the major consoles are considered flops if they sell less than 500k. They need at least a million sales in order to be considered a hit.

OTOH, smartphone/tablet games are only a viable market because they sell in mass quantities at a buck a pop.

The Ouya people are planning to build only about 100,000 of these things. Game developers, large or small, are not going to be able to recoup their development costs unless the Ouya starts talking about selling millions of units.

  1. Who the hell needs a $100 casual game machine when we already own PCs and smartphones? (And Wiis).

  2. For $99, you can buy a Roku 2 XS which streams all sorts of TV and video, ads internet power to your TV, and plays casual app store type games with motion controls. The Roku runs Linux, so it’s also open source. It’s not any kind of revolutionary gaming device - because there’s just not a big enough market for developers to bother with.

  3. The Wii, despite it’s reputation as a “casual” platform, has some honest-to-god all star games on it. It’s not just a smartphone type platform with angry birds and fruit ninja clones.

  4. Read this Gamasutra article, which explains it even better than I can:

  5. Do not give them money. Seriously.

Also not enthused: Ben Kuchera. He makes excellent points about the fact that there is no final prototype for any of this hardware, or the online store, but Ouya claims they’ll all be ready to go in eight months.

Well, that covered all of my comments, and then some.

I can’t see a viable business model in what they’re planning.

The project is too small to generate an install base that will justify a developer targeting the system. Why would an indie dev make a game for the OUYA when they could spend that time making a PC or iOS game that might actually earn them a few bucks? And the economics get even worse for non-indie games.

For comparison, the PlayStation 2 (!) still managed to move 4.1 million units last year. You can go out right now and buy a used PS2 for about $50 and have access to a massive back catalog. If you want a dirt-cheap gaming system, that’s the obvious choice. Why would the average consumer pay $100 for a bunch of ported phone games?

This thing is either a scam or a bunch of honestly deluded people. There’s no way this is going to work.

If they can get Andre 3000 to rework “Hey Ya”, that’s all the marketing they’d need.

I’m honestly baffled at how popular this thing is, and I’ll be terribly annoyed if it makes it to #1 most funded Kickstarter project.

I really don’t get the appeal of playing games designed for smartphones and tablets on a console and TV.

I think I’m convinced. I’m going to keep an eye on this one but with my optimism safely tempered.

Well, depending on who you ask, it’s not going to run smartphone games. It’s going to run “Console games written for Android OS.”

Where those games are going to come from, hell if I know.