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Ouya's top priority: Finding a killer app

Ouya's hype revolves around hardware, but the system will need compelling software to keep players' interest. To achieve this, CEO Julie Uhrman says the company needs to emulate a first-party game publisher.
When Ouya's Kickstarter campaign to build an Android-based game console ended two months ago, the team had raised $8.6 million. That's nine times greater than its initial goal. Most of that money is going toward manufacturing preordered consoles for next March's launch, and getting Ouya's SDK ready for developers to begin tinkering with. But there's another effort Ouya is putting its cash behind that hasn't received much attention: funding game development. "Part of any success with a new platform is making sure that we have great content on it," Ouya CEO Julie Uhrman explains to Gamasutra. "We definitely want to put money into game development. We're having conversations with a number of developers about their best projects that will sort of showcase the potential of Ouya." Despite all the hype Ouya has received for promising a product that will disrupt the home console market -- whether that's through the system's digital-only games, free-to-play approach, or hacker-friendly concept -- the group believes it needs to act like other home console makers in one regard, which is acting as a first-party publisher. And for Ouya to keep the positive buzz going for its hardware after launching, the console will need its own Mario or Halo to entice gamers. The company has already unveiled one first-party initiative, an Ouya-exclusive series of episodic content based on Human Element, the upcoming zombie game from Infinity Ward veteran Robert Bowling's new studio Robotoki. Ouya is talking with a number of other developers to make similar deals. "We understand that great games take a long time to develop and build, and we want to make sure we're having conversations today so we can bring them to Ouya as close to launch as possible," says Uhrman. She adds that Ouya is looking to fund games from every genre, including first-person shooters, platformers, sports titles, RPGs, and even family-targeted releases. Even though it's backing projects, the team doesn't intend to get overly involved in the development process with its partners. "We defer to the creative genius of developers," Uhrman clarifies. "We'll let them do what they do best while we focus on our day jobs. ... The developers retain full control over their IP and make all decisions as it relates to their games, including how to price."

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