OUYA videogame console Kickstarter madness: What am I missing here?

Bill Loguidice's picture

I'm a big fan of Kickstarter and have personally backed over a dozen projects to date. I'm also a big fan of technology, particularly videogame and computer stuff, and practically gobble up anything new that I can. So why I am not caught up in OUYA videogame console frenzy? It has over $3 million in pledges in a little over 24 hours from over 25,000 backers, so it's already a success, and this will all surely continue to tick up dramatically and impressively over its remaining 28 days of open pledges, perhaps even breaking the Kickstarter record along the way. Clearly then, I'm in the minority when it comes to figuring out the appeal, so let's break it down.

For $99, you get an Android 4.0-based console with controller that encourages both easy hardware and software hacking. The mandate is that all games will need a free demo, and what developers do after that in terms of requiring payment, if any, for a full version, is completely up to them. So far, so good, save for the fact that the hardware itself is relatively modest, their version of Android will be forked, and the hardware hacking aspect, while extremely appealing, may not be so hot for software developers, who will also need a minimum level of protection from piracy other than the honor system. Further, there is an awful lot of computer, console and portable competition in and around that price point, offering similar benefits with far more evolved ecosystems to good developers, even within the Android and forked Android spaces.

My biggest concern though is what types of games this will attract. It's fair to say this will mostly be indie developers supporting it for the foreseeable future, which can be interesting in and of itself, of course, but many platforms - not to mention the elephant in the room, the PC - are already swimming in indie stuff. We don't really need another platform for that type of stuff, at least one without any obvious differentiators outside of possible hardware hacks, which is not really something that more than a niche audience can realistically benefit from. We also don't need rushed ports from Android smartphones for obvious reasons, something that this platform all but encourages.

One angle that I thought might be interesting is to have this be an uber emulation box, but even that, these days, is handled well by many other devices. It can certainly evolve into the ultimate emulation machine at some point, but, as with many things with the OUYA, we just won't know, or be able to directly benefit, for potentially years.

So, with all that in mind, where's the appeal? Why should I back this? Let me know, because I genuinely want to know and feel like I'm missing out on some critical component here. I mean, I'm getting a Vizio Co-Star, which is an official Google TV device plus OnLive player, for $99, so what advantage exactly does the OUYA give me?

By the way, for the record, I'm glad they're getting this type of support as, at minimum, it encourages others to try something similar in the future that may really be "needed," assuming there really is nothing to the traction the OUYA has gained other than good timing and word-of-mouth publicity. It's also important to keep in mind that though this may gain direct financial support from 100,000+ people when all is said and done, the OUYA team's work is far from done when this eventually makes it to a public hardware launch, as without a clear market differentiator for the masses, it's unlikely to go very far beyond that initial wave of support. The reality is there are different levels of success and this has just reached the very first level. It's undeniably a promising start, though, and I'd genuinely love to change my mind about both its present and future prospects...

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clok1966
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Joined: 01/21/2009
Still haven't seen mine but

Still haven't seen mine but one of the guys i work with on the Dev side (he does indy games) got his.. I cant say i like the magnet covers.. but we had none of the issues he said.. buttons never stuck, and i never hooked any plastic with the right thumb. So far the control is very much the original but with a I wont say he is wrong.. he may very well be right (his complaint about damage during shipping is almost impossible if you seen how it was packed. even with every piece free.. but its always a possibility) SO far it seems the one thing i noticed with the dev controller is fixed (the dpad) again.. till more are out I cant say.. otherwise i can agree with pretty much what he said.. maybe not the way he said it.. but its all true.

I tend to think the next reviews will be better (or at least better written even if they dislike it).. I'm sorry when you lament about beta's being "rough around the edges" you lost me.. I play lots of beta's, they are ALL that way, Play almost any game on Steam early access, beta's are beta's on any platform, .. making it a "bad point" is showing me you don't understand how reviews work or are trying to be "down on it. Talking about eh BALL graphics being from 1999 is far more a stretch.. the game came out last year and many people (reviews)said it looked 5 old.. ..thats almost a 8 year difference.. why not just say they look 5 years old and be correct? Yes nit pick.. we are only talking 8 years difference.. whats a few years between reviewers, right?

oh well, I am trying to like it to hard maybe (ok, no maybe about it..I want it to run XBMC like a pro, and if i can do a few other things for 4.5 watts I have a winner).. I don't care much for the games so far.. (the ball is pretty lame IMHO.. but it sure shows what this tiny box can do). I should shut up till i get mine and can actually play it for more then an hour or so..

but i must admit I'm very interested in how my gamepad will be now..

clok1966
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Joined: 01/21/2009
got my OUYA finally and ..

got my OUYA finally and .. haven't opened the box, actually got it almost 2 weeks ago. I wanted to do a unboxing vid and such (first attempt). Still plan on it but been outside to much.

But i was cruzin kickstarter and saw this.. am like one click from pulling the trigger and backing it, lowest price i have seen, but it is smaller then some others.

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/pirate3d/the-buccaneer-the-3d-printe...

Mark Vergeer
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Looking forward to what you think of it...

I am getting mine within the next two weeks, very curious after your experiences.

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clok1966
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Sold out as fast as the PS4

Sold out as fast as the PS4 on amazon and gamestop.. I would say Xbox one .. but you can still get a day one from amazon (ms must plan on a huge amount available at lunch). I would guess there is a HUGE difference in available units (10 to 1, maybe 100 to 1?).. I get Popular Mechanics and i see they liked it (but man.. are they sorta clueless on this type of stuff) they had a picture and something like: Early units had bugs but the final units are working well. Not sure what they are basing that on.. yes many bugs where fixed, but many are still there from my reading. And I have yet to open mine.. summer.. new motorcycle, convertible.. like I'm sitting inside and playing games.

Bill Loguidice
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Based on Ben Kuchera's

Based on Ben Kuchera's impressions, I still don't see the value in the thing, even at that price: http://www.penny-arcade.com/report/article/a-cube-with-rough-edges-par-r...

Lots of issues, and of course those who backed it on Kickstarter are mostly still screwed.

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Rowdy Rob
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Harsh review from PC Magazine

Bill Loguidice wrote:
Based on Ben Kuchera's impressions, I still don't see the value in the thing, even at that price: http://www.penny-arcade.com/report/article/a-cube-with-rough-edges-par-r...
Lots of issues, and of course those who backed it on Kickstarter are mostly still screwed.

Penny Arcade's review sounded relatively positive (with many caveats), but PC Magazine's review was very harsh.

Here's the link to PC Magazine's review:

http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2420825,00.asp

I'm curious, Bill, what you meant by "those who backed it on Kickstarter are mostly still screwed." I haven't kept up with the backstory on this device. Did the Kickstarter backers not get their units, or were their units not the same as the release versions, or what?

I am perplexed by the Ouya's inclusion of emulators for other platforms. While this is a debatable, legal grey area for videogame fans, I'm surprised to see a console platform like Ouya push this ability officially.

At the very least, it sounds like the Ouya is a decent, cheap platform for emulation. I'm not particularly enthused about getting one right now, though.

Bill Loguidice
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Ouya

Rowdy Rob wrote:

I'm curious, Bill, what you meant by "those who backed it on Kickstarter are mostly still screwed." I haven't kept up with the backstory on this device. Did the Kickstarter backers not get their units, or were their units not the same as the release versions, or what?

Correct. Most Kickstarter backers did not get their units yet, and those that have apparently got an earlier version than these retail ones, with more issues. I think the Ouya guys were pissed about that, but that does little to soothe those who got screwed.

Rowdy Rob wrote:

I am perplexed by the Ouya's inclusion of emulators for other platforms. While this is a debatable, legal grey area for videogame fans, I'm surprised to see a console platform like Ouya push this ability officially.
At the very least, it sounds like the Ouya is a decent, cheap platform for emulation. I'm not particularly enthused about getting one right now, though.

There's no issue with the emulators. Both Google Play and the Apple App Store have emulators. You just can't distribute ROMs without a license. Ouya is not distributing the ROMs.

I'd be more enthused about the Ouya if the controller were better. A good controller is critical to the experience (I realize you can use another controller for most things, but the reality is, that controller adds to the cost). I'm also disappointed that the Ouya store is not exclusively optimized games. There shouldn't be virtual controls still present on the screen or wonky performance or displays. That should be reserved for side loading unsupported stuff.

I realize I'm rather harsh on this, but I still fail to see the advantage of owning one. At the same time, I already own a growing number of Android powered devices, so I'm probably a bit more critical/particular than some people...

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clok1966
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Joined: 01/21/2009
Well its not quite as bad as

Well its not quite as bad as it sounds.. 80,000 where to be shipped, supposedly 6,000 are still not shipped so MOST Kickstarter people do have them (those numbers are from OUYA so may not be accurate). I have had mine 2 weeks or more and i was in on the 2nd to last day (they went out, first in first out, except on the Brown consoles).

the controller, again I'm not to sure the fuss.. it works fine, early ones had a problem with the battery covers sticking on buttons (its fixed now). most reviews say its bad as its not like the Xbox controller.. well Im pretty sure they cant copy that without MS comming down on them.. this is more sour grapes, the xbox guy dont like the sony controller, the sony guy dont like the 360 controller, etc... etc.. The dev team units i got to use, controller works fine, its not a Xbox or PS controller, but its not bad. As for actual use, its fine.. feel, well.. again.. its not a 360 controller that everybody seems to want it to be.. it cant be.. or they would get sued. Actual function, it works fine. they mention lag, its poor ports.. not the system.. otherwise games MADE for the controller wouldn't work without lag. the only lag i saw was in ports.. I do agree the touch pad is all but worthless.. but it think its there for simplifying ports.. Menu screens and the like, it wont be a game play tool.. though Im sure some will try make it one.

I am going to try open mine on Sunday and do a video (be my first so who knows).. maybe I will change my mind . But i have played with 2 release ones the Devs got.. not long enough to form a solid opinion, but enough to know those 2 units seemed to work ok and the controllers where not that bad and functioned as good as most i have used.. and felt ok.

of course i hate gamepads.. so my opinion on controllers is not like most..

i think one thing most forget.. this is not SONY/MS/Nintendo.. its a startup.. major Nelson makes more then the whole OYUA budget. its not going to be as smooth, polished as the big boys.. its not supposed to be, its a way to play tablet/phone games on a TV for a reasonable price. I think to many think its a PS3/360 competitor.. its not. IT IS A CONSOLE.. but not one that competes with the last gen or current gen.. its there for the same reason somewhere in the World the PS2 is still made.. somebody cant afford the next gen and just cares if a game is fun.

Mark Vergeer
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Received a tracking number weeks ago - unit still sits in H.Kong

Received a tracking number weeks ago but the unit still is sitting in Hong Kong. Still looking forward to it although I do think the Ouya folk should have given original backers priority over retail as the backers allowed the Ouya to become a reality in the first place. It feels like they've let quite a few people cut in the waiting line...
I guess commercial pressure and being afraid of loosing retail momentum is what made them bypass a lot of the loyal backers. The question is wether this is a good thing to do as it does piss off quite a few 'believers'.
I am just patient, it's all I can do.

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clok1966
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Joined: 01/21/2009
No argument there, early

No argument there, early backers should be first, especially when that was promised. Again small time competing in the big market and not aware how things go, over promising it seems too. I have been a bit of a OUYA backer, not because of anything but "more is better" for the market. I have seen the we rule method.. (ipads with no options as well as many others) and don't like it. This generation of consoles is also a bit to much "we think this" forcing extra hardware, and trying to force new DRM.. more competition is better, even if the OUYA inst competing in the same space, its open platform and a new idea.

But.. so far its not going good as far as I can see, early backers not getting units, below average interface (this can improve) and way to many crap ports.. the crap ports thing is almost a deal breaker for me.. This makes finding good stuff even harder. one of the negatives of the phone/tablet market is the slew of utter crap. They solve this with rankings.. but i don't see that on this.. so unless you get lucky or have seen a review, your going in blind.

i was pretty upbeat at the time to start, and still like the idea and see a place for it if there are others like me who need a "control" not a touch pad. I can enjoy causal games, but I hate touch screens for the more traditional controlling games.. And if i enjoy a game, i prefer a screen (tv) .. so there is a market in a person like me, but I do tend to think im the minority. But I'm swaying more and more, not because of the actual hardware, but just the poor showing. Very seldom do you get a second chance, so screwing up the start is a very bad thing.

I agree, I'm sure it hard to tell Walmart or Amazon that when they sell out they cant get more units. big picture pissing off them is huge.. but with the net, pissing of a few users can blow up.. Just overall a no win unless stuff goes perfect. it never does.. And I doubt OUYA has the cash to do much "fixing", but hey should do something.. $10-20 gift card or something.. But I would guess as i said, no cash to do that.

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