Ouya has a supporter in Defiant Development

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The Ouya kickstarter campaign has already exceeded the expectations of many, despite only starting up just a week ago. At the moment, Ouya has received over $5 million dollars worth of supporter backing and has another three weeks left to bring in even more funds. The momentous enthusiasm for the new Android-based console has been equally met with a fair amount of criticism and scepticism from many in the games industry, but it has a staunch supporter in at least one Australian games development studio.

Ouya aims to counter the movement away from console gaming and bring the gamers back to the TV by providing a cheap, open, and even hackable console platform. Games developers, especially those who are independent, will be enticed by the low barrier of entry and ease of games distribution that Ouya promises, which is a stark contrast to the huge amounts of funds required for a SDK to develop on the traditional games console to produce packaged products that have a limited shelf life at retail.

Digital Distribution is one of the big reasons why Morgan Jaffit, from Brisbane's Defiant Development, is onboard with Ouya. He's has put down a list with another five great reasons why he's so enthusiastic about Ouya which also serves as a way to counter some of the criticisms thrown at the idea of an open Android console. The most striking in the list is Jaffit's thoughts on Ouya's success, and why it doesn't need to take on the console giants of Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo to succeed. From Jaffit's blog post...

(Morgan) We don't see Ouya as a replacement for the current set of consoles, but as a new device. A device that's easy for developers to get onto, and offers users the potential to do new and exciting things with their hardware. It can (and will) live alongside the current consoles - but it doesn't have to beat them to make a huge difference.

Jaffit has expressed his studio's intentions on supporting the new console, and seeing as they've had experience on the Android platform, they'll have absolutely no problems easing in.

So what say you? Will Ouya mark the new era of gaming, or will it fail spectacularly in living up to its potential?


Endgame Studios's picture

Hmm, no word on criticisms to do with a couple of the big ticket items - piracy/hacking and only a passing comment about the store model.

Ouya certainly has polarised people. I have to say I find all these unqualified declarations of support or opposition on day one of a console a bit odd. There's nowhere near sufficient information to make a business case for the platform yet, and as Morgan himself says, it's "a long way from free" to get product across onto it.

Endgame is a backer too, but more on a "wait and see" basis. Declaring that we'll definitely be investing money in bringing product to it is incredibly premature from a commercial perspective. Unless Morgan knows something we don't, no one knows anything about the store model yet - developer revenue split, minimum quality or genre requirements to get a game on there, what marketing support we'll get from the makers, plus many more critical issues. I doubt the makers even have the answers to any of this yet.

As far as I'm aware, we don't even know what games they'll permit on their store. Will the manufacturers allow everything and anything to go on the store in a truly "open" spirit? If so, what's to stop it turning into the Chrome or App store - rife with copyright violations, a dumping ground for every iOS game ever made (which means a lot of casual games which seems like an awful fit for a core gamer console) - or worse, malware? On the other hand, if they impose quality regulations, what's the criteria? And if you're a backer are you guaranteed a birth on the store, regardless of any of this? (It certainly reads that way on Kickstarter).

I also think it's a bit premature to declare 40,000 users as being evidence of a market. As many others have already pointed out, it's a long long way from Steam's 40 million. Currently it's at 0.1% of Steam's market. It may become a market but it has a ways to go. If you're selling iOS content on a store with even 5 million users, you'd need to somehow justify asking $10 or $15 for a game they could get on the App Store for $0.99. Now with 500+ "premium" product window opportunities on offer for the first year, the first-to-market idea is well and truly gone. I'd guess they'd need to hit around 4 or 5 million unit sales before it's worth thinking about (or a 100-fold increase from where it is now). It's all possible, but you can't extrapolate that from where it is now. For example, the 3DS sold 200,000 units on day one and everyone branded it an abject failure!

Personally, I'm now a bit wary of Ouya after they doubled their developer pledge availability. Given that it's supposed to be special exposure for your game for the first year, suddenly that's now shared with about 500 other games instead of the original 250. It speaks of making decisions on the run and that is scary when you're talking about investing time and cash in bringing product to the platform. We're certainly continually evaluating our support - will see how it goes.

Don't get me wrong: I hope it's a success, and that it works out for many Aussie devs including Defiant and Endgame, but from a business perspective, I really believe "we'll see how it goes" is the only reasonable commercial disposition until a lot more information unfolds over coming months. My guess is that's why you're not seeing many (any?) other developers declaring their hand just yet.

morgan's picture

The short answer to all of those, for us at least, is that we've got enough freedom to support the sorts of projects we want to make happen - even if it's not strictly free for us to do so (ie, not all our decisions need a proven business case, some are purely speculative). We'd love there to be an open console for us to make games for, so committing to making games for the open console in development is ultimately worthwhile.

They're trying to do something crazy. We like crazy! There are for sure a bunch of things to be ironed out, but that's life. That's part of the reason we're bringing a variety of games over - to test the waters and see what works, and if it's worthwhile.

We'll definitely let people know how it goes.

Endgame Studios's picture

Interesting approach. Good luck with it, I hope it works out as you're anticipating. You never know, we may be there too with Fractured Soul. For a small indie crew like us those details are vital, but awesome that you guys are funded well enough to forge on regardless. Keep us all in the loop with it!

souri's picture

As a consumer, I'll be all over this device! Even if it fails to gain traction as a game console, it'll still make for a great for a hackable youtube/vimeo streamer, photo/media player etc.. If it's gonna have access to Google Play marketplace, it'll be useful for many other things too.

I'm still in that 'wait and see' boat like Grant on whether it will really take off though - in a way, I think having a dedicated games console for your living room is still a foot stuck in the past, despite it being a digital distribution platform and more open. We've got phones and tablets that can can connect to our tv's, and blue-tooth controllers that connect to our devices already, which makes a dedicated android-based games console a little bit redundant. However, while I have an iPhone and iPad to do this, I still want a device to keep soley in my living room to do the media/streaming thing, so the Ouya still appeals to me for that purpose.

Anyway, there's still a whole lot of unkowns about the Ouya that I'm sure developers are eager to know about, and you've got to wonder if they can handle the entire ecosystem that comes with a manufacturing and distributing a product, and supporting a digital distribution platform, it's developers and consumers. It seems like a huge undertaking to me.

Endgame Studios's picture

Interesting tweets from Simon Carless on the subject last night:

Semi-disgusted with the OnLive/Ouya announce. Ouya pitched _heavily_ as 'open game console' and they're randomly introducing middlemen?
(Of course, Ouya's more wish fulfillment than reality, but PLEASE don't fund 'make it up as we go along' shenanigans in the future.)
For those @-y me, I know that OnLive is 'just an option', but Ouya's Kickstarter traded heavily on indie cred to get $5 million.
So if Ouya launched with a 'you can play Darksiders II' angle (OnLive PR!) it would've broken their 'indies need you!' angle.
I don't believe the 'possibility space' that Kickstarter folks funded for Ouya is honest, based on things like this. Shutting up now :)
And natively dev-ing for Ouya is even LESS enticing if you're competing against OnLive-streamed games on a multiple-choice dashboard. GAH.

This is what I was getting at with the 'making decisions on the run'. With OnLive there'll likely be way too much day one competition for any indie to make any real money. I hope Ouya can get it together, but we're seriously re-thinking our support for the device now. I imagine Morgan's probably not over the moon at this latest development either.

souri's picture

Interesting update on OnLive is that it recently laid off half it's employees and went through bankruptcy before getting bought out by a venture capitalist, which means this collaboration has a fairly tough task at being realised.

I do like the idea of OnLive, however. Paying a small flat fee to 'rent' and stream a huge catalogue of games seems inevitable to happen. Spotify, Netflix etc has shown how much consumers enjoy media via subscription, and it seems Sony's onboard for streaming games on the PS4 after acquiring David Perry's GaiKai, and Microsoft might have something up their sleeves too.