Since big projects like the Pebble and the Double Fine Adventure helped the Kickstarter crowd-funding service take off on a scale of millions of dollars, numerous eyebrow-raising projects have launched. One of the highest funded and hotly debated projects is the Android-based Ouya game console. The small LA-based team was able to raise over $ 8.5 million by offering $ 99 pre-orders. As the release of the Ouya draws closer, some big news has come to light. This won’t be an online-only experience. Not only will you be able to buy the Ouya directly from the manufacturer’s website, but major brick-and-mortar chains will be selling the inexpensive gaming platform as well.
In the United States, Amazon, Best Buy, Target, and GameStop will be selling the Ouya. Canadians will be able to order one directly from the Amazon.ca store. This is an important step in ensuring the Ouya becomes a success. The tens of thousands of pre-orders are impressive for a small company, but that’s just not enough. With the next-gen consoles from Sony and Microsoft coming later this year, a small Android-based device is going to need a lot of post-release traction to convince any substantial number of developers to play ball.
Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo, and even Valve are huge companies compared to the folks behind Ouya. Nobody sane is expecting the console to sell millions of units like a Nintendo system would, but it still needs a lot more than Kickstarter money and good will to become a success. Recently, a ten-day game jam ended up producing over 150 game prototypes from interested developers. It’s a good start, and platforms like the iOS App Store have shown that having a large number of indie developers behind you can be the backbone of a successful service. As long as the Ouya team can pull off having a large library of noteworthy indie games while riding the low price point, the Ouya could actually become something the average gamer cares about. It’s by no means going to dislodge the titans of the industry from their top spot, but could disrupt the lower-priced portion of the market.
From the Apple Bandai Pippin to the Panasonic 3DO, countless companies have tried to enter the console gaming market only to fail miserably. There is only so much market and mindshare available, and two-to-three is the magic number of successful consoles at one time. If the Ouya came into the market at a $ 300 to $ 400 price point trying to out-console Sony and Microsoft, it would only end in tears. By offering low-end hardware backed by indie developers, the Ouya just might become a respectable fourth player in the console world by doing something completely different.
There is still a lot of work to be done, and it remains to be seen if the people behind the Ouya can pull everything off successfully. If it nails the launch and spends the next year getting dozens of notable exclusive indie games, then the user base will grow, and it will be safe to call the Ouya a success. If it just becomes a home to emulators and Android app store ports, it’d be quite a flop. Until then, it’d be best to just watch from the sidelines.
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