The fever behind the Kickstarter project OUYA has been a strange sight to behold. Developed with an Android based operating system, for some reason, a lot of people seem to think the console will become a major hit. You can’t deny this, a Kickstarter relies on others to fund projects. It still seems massively weird that something like OUYA can garner this much attention. Ultimately though, I do not see OUYA succeeding past its initial install base. In a year when next-generation consoles are likely to come from both Sony and Microsoft, the audience for OUYA will only dwindle from release.
The initial hype around OUYA comes from the fact that mobile gaming is the ‘in’ thing right now. At least among the more casual gamer. Truth be told, I don’t even know why some people have to update their mobile phones on a yearly basis, but that’s for another article. With both the App Store for Apple devices and Androids own gaming apps, mobile gaming is at its peak in terms of gaming development and consumption. OUYA is thus centered around the need for these same group of people to sit down on their couches and play those exact same games on their TV sets. At a relatively cheaper price than proper gaming consoles (but not by much mind you).
My question to this is, why? The whole idea behind mobile gaming is gaming on the go. Gaming when you have spare time at work and don’t want to talk to annoying workmates. Gaming while on public transport (which can be hazardous I tell you). Gaming while chilling at a park. Those are the kind of moments people like to take advantage of with mobile gaming. It’s very similar in concept to handheld gaming like with the Nintendo 3DS, except with mobile gaming, well, you’re using a mobile phone. That’s less items to carry around, and much easier to remember to bring with you. The ease and simplicity of it is a strong positive.
OUYA strips all that away. It is barely stronger in technology than modern smartphones, thus your experience isn’t greatly improved. The main draw would be playing with a controller. This makes it no different than any other games console, except for being much weaker. A supposed charm of the system is that indie game companies should be able to easily develop games for the system. That is such a large ask though, as the OUYA will need a massive install base to make focusing on it solely a worthwhile endeavor. Why would developers limit themselves in such a fashion?
As I stated earlier, the appearance of next-generation consoles will steal a lot of thunder away from OUYA too. The OUYA may be cheap, but that is still money saveable for a much more powerful console coming later on in the year. Another big problem would be: nothing is stopping Sony and/or Microsoft from striking a deal with Google (or even Apple!) to place game apps on PSN and/or XBL. It would be a smart move, as they would still be catering to the hardcore gaming crowd, while allowing room for the casual games to surface too. They are more likely to sell those games to hardcore gamers too, given the ease of access. And if you knew that the next-generation consoles could feed your mobile gaming need for the living room, would you even consider the OUYA?