Why I’m Putting a Bet on OUYA – For Now
OUYA’s phenomenal Kickstarter success has raised a lot of questions about the viability of what Tadhg Kelly has dubbed the microconsole. It proved that there was demand for a device which allowed gamers to play on their TV on the cheap (obviously) and that developers wanted a route into the living room without having to jump through Sony and Microsoft’s hoops. In my mind, while it will succeed in these goals, and help change the nature of TV gaming, the OUYA will, in and of itself, fail.
It will make a bit of money, and it will have (does have) a devoted fanbase. But it will not become the box that everybody has under their T.V. It will remain a niche product, languish around for 2 or 3 years and quietly disappear. The company that runs it will sell up (probably to Amazon) and everyone involved will have made a tidy sum and OUYA will be largely consigned to history.
Why then, am I making a game (possibly and hopefully more) for something that I think is destined to fail?
Because it’s a playground full of people like me.
It won’t be full of 14 year old kids screaming “Faggot” at everybody who shoots them. It won’t be saturated or dominated by Activision and EA. It won’t require a marketing budget the size of Greece’s debt to succeed and it won’t have 28 versions of Angry Birds.
The games I expect to flourish on OUYA will be largely experimental, largely independent and largely different from the usual Modern Warfare template. It will, temporarily, be the home for the auteurs of game development. A place where new concepts and styles and stories will get an airing before they hit bigger platforms.
At first, the games on OUYA will generally consist of iOS or Android ports, but developers will quickly learn that what works on an iPad doesn’t work with a controller in hand. Most medium to large developers will learn that they can’t make a lot of money from releasing on OUYA and head on back to the pastures of the iPhone, but one or two person teams might be able to find a niche with interesting concepts and different ideas.
Will these games all be good? Of course not. Will they be polished and professional? Some will, but most will be rough round the edges. Will you find interesting games that you won’t find anywhere else? Absolutely.
I’m hoping that the likes of Dear Esther and Journey will become the template for success on OUYA – 2-3 hour experiences that take gaming in new directions. That’s what I want from OUYA, and that’s the aim of my first project for it. I might be wrong, but I hope not…
Then the market will dwindle. Slowly haemorrhaging customers to different outlets. The 3rd generation OUYA will sell half what the first gen one does, Apple will enable iOS apps on the Apple TV, Google will bring a fully Play Store equipped Nexus device in and it will be over.
People like me will have to find somewhere else to play, but it will be good while it lasts.