3 min read
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OUYA, The Forsaken Prodigy

A post about the challenges OUYA and potentially other microconsoles face, attracting independent game developers to their platform...


As an independent video game startup working on our first game, the ideology behind the microconsoles is one of the most interesting evolutions in the industry in a long time. Publishing on a console without the need jump hoops and invest in expensive development kits is certainly something to be excited about as an independent game developer.

For this reason, OUYA has been a center of attention for Reign Bros ever since our game ‘Stikbold!’ won the ‘Best Game Created Using the Unity Engine’ award in the ‘CREATE’ contest and we decided to keep working on it. Sadly, as time went by, OUYA launched and Stikbold!’s release is approaching, this option seems less and less viable...

On paper, it would seem the microconsoles and companies like ours should make a perfect couple!

They provide a platform with low barriers of entry and a nice attitude towards consumers and developers alike, and we provide quality games made from passion for the medium and designed specifically as a living room experience!

Wasn’t this exactly the dream many of us imagined when we first heard about the idea of a cheap, indie friendly console that anyone would be able to publish on?

At this point however, the OUYA store tell a different story...

The vast majority of the games are either ports of phone/tablet games or hobby games of very questionable quality and/or depth. It is immediately clear that little effort was put into these when you encounter broken games, clunky interfaces and sometimes outright atrocious controller support.

This abundance of mediocrity and carelessness reflects poorly on the reputation of the console that seems to be taken less and less seriously… But why did all the dedicated, inspired and talented indie developers leave the party before it even really started???

"Where's the money?"

While there are many factors to answer this question, our primary concern is, plain and simple, that no one seems to be making any money from OUYA’s store…

Even the proclaimed “killer app”, ‘TowerFall’, despite being an amazingly entertaining and exclusive experience, have seen modest sales numbers considering the OUYA customer base.

Every developer knows, that making a great game from scratch require much more investment than cloning one of Vlambeer’s, so if OUYA wants to carry unique games of a quality that can capture people’s attention, developers must be able to make their living there...

The sad reality is, that even for a company like ours -that is bootstrapped to the point where less than half of us actually gets paid- releasing on OUYA and relying on the sales would almost certainly mean the end of our company before we could even settle our next game idea.

The great paradox here is that there is no lack of talented developers interested in meeting the strong demand for unique games, but these developers are likely forced to favor other platforms because the financial prospect of an OUYA launch is so underwhelming.

It’s difficult to say what Julie Uhrman & Co. can do to increase the attractiveness of the console for both developers and consumers, but one step could be to ensure an exclusive deal -even if it might be expensive-  for a couple of the indie titles that can really generate a lot of excitement. Examples of such titles could be: ‘Samurai Gunn’, ‘Wasteland Kings’ or ‘Lovers in a Dangerous Space Time’. Hopefully this could help jumpstart the money flow in the store, eventually improving the conditions for other developers as well…

 We keep our fingers crossed and hopes up for the troubled kid with the good intentions!

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