Kickstarter has been full of disappointments but perhaps none has been as painful as the Ouya’s.
Born with promise, and a near-record 8.5 million dollar Kickstarter campaign the Ouya’s path has been not the one its creators envisioned back in 2012. One of the first ‘micro-consoles’ that uses android software to bring android games to the big screen, it appeared on the wake of the kickstarter success it would have a good shot at it. Instead, the lack of software (originally), some hardware issues at launch, and competition in the market from Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo managed to make it difficult to make in roads for it.
That’s not to say its dead though – its just been a giant belly flop in many ways and has been forced to pivot in how its focused its business. The Ouya commands perhaps the largest android gaming library with over 1000 games in it and with its Ouya Everywhere initiative has worked to license those out to other microconsole developers. They have so far licensed it out to Madcatz in the USA, and are working with Xiaomi in China.
Xiaomi though might be upset as they might have a poacher on the grounds with Alibaba reportedly investing $10 million in the Ouya as per the Wall Street Journal. The investment will help Ouya expand and work on its platform one would imagine and they are negotiating an agreement to bring the Ouya’s games to their set-top boxes. Though it does seem odd that an investment like this was made without that agreement being reached as Alibaba is clearly hoping to use the Ouya’s library to help expand its reach with consoles now that the ban is gone and not by putting Ouya’s out there.
If that was all the good news for the Ouya – that would be plenty given its rough times, but the system has gotten more good news of late. One of the most popular game development engines Unreal Engine 4 has announced a fork in its development for the Ouya. Unreal 4 has gotten even greater usage after its large price decrease this past year and it seems the Ouya may be able to get easier ports on some games, and better tools for its developers in general. It will take an active Unreal subscription and Github account though to get access to the fork.
China on the whole may be a good market for the Ouya as it has less conceptions on what a console should be, and less competition on the whole. Lacking consoles for the past 14 years in general, the things many people take for granted in other markets on a console or game list mean a lot less, and its integration with already existing Chinese company’s lowers that barrier of entry into the new market. If the Ouya is successful there, and with Unreal 4, it may be that the Ouya trends less towards being a hardware based device, and more of a software library that happens to have a named device.
What do you think of the Ouya’s movement into software licensing? Do you think the Alibaba investment will help it enough? What about the interest from Unreal? Tell us in the comments below!