Ouya, the 2013 Kickstarter-funded, Android-based console that was supposed to completely turn the home console market upside down, has been sold to Razer, who is going to cannibalize its assets for Cortex, their own digital market that is part of Android TV. Daily Reaction is looking back — as the Ouya was the catalyst for the first ever Daily Reaction — and reading Ouya’s eulogy.
Chandler: Two years. That’s how long the Ouya lasted before rapidly seeking an out, and perhaps there were internal warning signs long before they publicly started seeking buyers in April of this year. It was a failure, simply put. A well-funded failure. Where does the failure lie? Who’s fault is the downfall of the Ouya? Why was Ouya sold to Razer? Did the predictions made by Sebastian and Dan back in the first ever Daily Reaction come to pass or was it something else entirely?
Just last week we pitted consoles versus PCs. What did we find? We ultimately saw that they are two vastly different markets for different kinds of gamers and different kinds of games, with some crossover in between. Neither is “better” than the other. The same can be said of the mobile games market in comparison to the home console market. I myself enjoy a few good mobile games here and there. They are fun to play on my lunch break at work, or laying in bed just before I go to sleep. However, there is a time and a place. Ouya attempting to put the Android-based game market on your home TV was doomed to fail from the start.
In theory, it’s a great idea. In practice, it’s a whole different story. The android-based platform is already there, it’s called the Google Market. You can connect most newer phones to your TV now anyway, if you really want to sit and play those games in your living room. Don’t forget that your phone also has other functions that Ouya couldn’t compete with… namely being a phone. If I am at home on my couch, the last thing I want to do is fire up an Android-based game. I have a PS4, and my time spent in the living room will be spent playing my real home console, not an odd device trying to bridge a gap that isn’t asking to be crossed.
Granted, Razer will use the Ouya’s assets to bolster its own offering of Android-based gaming in the living room, but it will see games as a supplementary function of something with a number of other uses and assets, as opposed to being marketed as an Android based home console. I don’t think that the Ouya failed as much as its dedicated idea led to its quick demise. The home console market has its big contenders right now, and it’s going to take a lot more than a tiny Android-based gaming console to break into this strong market. RIP Ouya. I’d be hard pressed to say you’ll be missed.
Dan: One of the biggest draws that an open sourced platform has is its ability for almost anyone to develop something for it. The issue surrounding the Ouya is that, while it did have a lower barrier of entry for players to find content for it, its competition was not only the home console market, but also the PC one as well. Allowing developers to easily create for it, while still being able to push products into the mobile space was a potentially powerful idea, but one that relied too heavily on unlikely factors.
Given that the Ouya was designed to go against the console market during a time when the indie portion of the industry was still marginal at best, it made sense to develop something to give a platform that nearly anyone could publish on. But, sadly the industry shifted drastically as we saw more and more love for smaller developers on consoles, and even a shift in hardware that made development more approachable. Not to mention that even the Ouya wasn’t as easily open sourced as we were originally led to believe.
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This leads to the other end of the spectrum, where the PC market is still completely open to developers of all sizes to try out their games, but with a little thing called Steam easing distribution. Even if developers didn’t want to push their product onto Steam, there are countless other methods that allow for them to distribute without the need for them to be tied into a niche product. What this means is that regardless of what the Ouya was trying to do, it was competing between two behemoth markets and simply could not do much to pull enough consumers from either to survive.
From the very beginning we understood that it was going to take a different approach to actually put the Ouya into consumer’s hands, and sadly that didn’t happen. As a device it could have done so much more, but without a realistic library of quality titles behind it or the ability to push it beyond the normal capabilities of a PC, it was dead before it started. The mobile scene itself is a sizable market, but if any of those titles want to expand beyond tablets and phones they are going to go to platforms with millions of potential customers, not one with thousands.