Looking For A Launch Game For Ouya…

Looking For A Launch Game For Ouya…

“At the end of the day, Ouya is beautiful, but people don’t buy consoles,” the woman behind the Android-based home console that is coming out next month recently said to me. “They buy content.”

She’s right, right?

Ouya CEO Julie Uhrman said this while she and I chatted in Las Vegas last week. People get excited about new hardware, but it’s the games that draw people in — it’s the games that define a system. What’s an Xbox without Halo or a Nintendo 64 without Super Mario 64? Plenty of gaming machines launch with a lot of stinkers, but a Nintendo DS eventually gets its Nintendogs. A PS3 eventually scores a Metal Gear Solid IV. The game comes out that you have to have. You buckle. You buy the machine.

So what’s the big game for Ouya?

It doesn’t really have one. Uhrman was in Vegas to give a talk at the DICE Summit, where she announced that Words with Friends creator Paul Bettner would be bringing a game to Ouya and where she said that Tim Schafer’s Kickstarted adventure game codenamed “Reds” will come to Ouya before it comes to any other home console. Neither of those is a launch game for a machine that will begin to be delivered to Kickstarter backers and online shoppers next month. The $US99, Rubik’s Cube-sized hackable console will start selling in stores in June.

But there’s no killer app.

Maybe there doesn’t have to be one. Android games will run on this machine. Those that are free or have a free demo will be available in the Ouya marketplace (every game has to be free to try, Uhrman has long said). Amid that bunch, perhaps there will be a game worth having an Ouya for — a game worth turning Android gaming from a mobile experience to one that involves playing something on a TV with a traditional twinstick controller in hand.

Uhrman said that a recent Ouya game jam produced lots of games, many of them designed for local co-op. Her message is one of an open platform that liberates creators and that empowers them to make any game they can dream of for a traditional TV console experience. But is there a game coming from this community that you’d just have to play? Would you be willing to simply guess “yes”? We’re talking about a $US99 console. It is cheap, after all. Perhaps the gamble is that people will just buy a thing that’s that inexpensive and play whatever the best available games are. Eventually better stuff will show up. Maybe a killer app will emerge.

When Ouya was Kickstarted, people gave about $US7.5 million more to crowd-fund the console than Uhrman and her team asked for. Much of that money will pay for the consoles that early funders were essentially paying for. But could some of that money go to the kind of first-party, in-house game development that can ensure a console some games of its own? “‘Should we do this ourselves?'” Uhrman pondered to me. “We haven’t decided.”

During her talk, Uhrman talked about how excited she is for Grand Theft Auto V. That won’t come to Ouya, I pointed out to her. This year’s model of the Ouya couldn’t run it. But maybe Grand Theft Auto III could? “It already works on Ouya,” she said. Well, yes, it’s out on Android. It’s not free, though. We’ll have to see how that works out.

Maybe you’re making the killer app for Ouya. Maybe you’re making its Wii Sports. If so, please let us know.


  • Isn’t it a little hard to make launch-games for a console with no pre-release dev version? Or is there a dev version?
    I’ll buy it regardless of launch games, if at least for a cheap home theatre.

  • We’re talking about a $US99 console. It is cheap, after all. Perhaps the gamble is that people will just buy a thing that’s that inexpensive and play whatever the best available games are. Eventually better stuff will show up. Maybe a killer app will emerge.
    Or maybe they’ll buy one, play with it a few times, realise that’s there’s not much worthwhile on it then rarely ever use it again. No big loss for them, it wasn’t that expensive.
    Seems like something that’s rather likely to happen too.

  • What does the OUYA do that my Android mobile doesn’t or my xbox doesn’t or my windows PC doesn’t or my iPad or Android tablet doesn’t? I’m not sure I get the appeal of the OUYA. Sure it might attract Indie developers but what attracts the consumers?

    If a game is developed to OUYA is it not open to any other Android OS device? Why would I buy this when my phone or tablet or PC or console can do much of what this device does and far more?

    Maybe I am pessimist or ignorant but I have zero interest in OUYA. Perhaps someone can enlighten me?

    • I think it’s the combination of features that makes the OUYA unique: it’s designed for native use on 1080p TV displays, so it’s got that over Android mobiles; it’s $99 and games are cheap/free so that’s the advantage over an Xbox or PC; and it comes with a controller, which I guess is an advantage over both the mobile and tablet.

      I do see your point though. For someone who has all these devices already, there isn’t too much to draw you to the platform. That being said, I have everything you mentioned above but still pledged for an OUYA through the kickstarter.

      My first priority will be getting MAME4droid up and running (classic arcade games FTW), then I’ll probably look into some of the more expansive RPG/adventure games on Android that are begging for a decent controller and hi-res (also larger) display. From there, I’ll toy around with using it as a lightweight TV/movie streamer… It’s a novelty purchase for sure, so it remains to be seen whether I’ll get much long term use out of it, but at $99 not an expensive bid to make.

      • Thanks for the reply, I worry the cheapness and free aspects of games will literally translate into poor quality. I hope I am wrong there. Certainly the Google, Apple & Windows app stores are chock full of mediocrity. Sure there are gems in there too but they are few and far between. Hopefully OUYA can do better with their developers and app pricing models.

        As for streaming TV any decent plasma, LCD or my LED for example already has network connectivity, YouTube and more. As do the consoles that are already there. Then you have the Foxtel, iiNet FetchTV, Google set top boxes and similar to compete with. Tablets already have the connectivity to large scale TV’s, Internet and the ability to run many other applications too.

        MAME is a cool application for a $99 living room arcade time machine, if my PC didn’t wirelessly stream to the TV I’d probably look at that.

        It just seems so lacking in terms of no DVD/blu ray drive, no exclusive partnership, no exclusive games etc. How does it go in terms of multiplayer controllers or split screen gaming etc? Does it have cross game chat or a member community interaction etc? Is there actually an online platform behind OUYA like PSN or XBL? Do they have any other peripherals e.g. Kinect, Move or even a steering wheel or fighting joystick etc?

        • Let’s dial it back a bit. I’m not saying you should definitely go out and buy one, heck I’m not even saying most people should go out and buy one. If you want a hardcore gaming system, the OUYA probably isn’t the right choice right now, and by the same token if you want a sophisticated streaming rig, it’s never going to be ideal. The point is, the OUYA ticks enough boxes that it appeals to a certain demographic/niche market (especially when it comes to the price point) even before exclusive gaming titles are released, but this could also be its downfall.

          They’ve created a massive potential market of content purchasers based purely on the current capabilities of the platform, but this doesn’t necessarily translate to guaranteed ongoing sales.

          The next three to six months will really decide whether or not the paid content model takes off and the OUYA becomes something more than the raspberry pi of Android gaming devices (the success of the Kickstarter campaign has probably muddied the waters here too, as while many big developers are expressing interest in OUYA, we won’t know until it actually gets to consumers whether or not people are willing to fork out money on exclusive content).

          When it comes to multiplayer, I bought an OUYA console with two controllers, so that will be supported out of the box. That works perfectly for old school arcade games that were designed for play on a single screen, but what will be really interesting is if we start to see Android ports/exclusive titles that utilise a unique take on split screen eg. an Android game like Gun Brothers, which normally would be played on two mobile/tablet screens simultaneously. Port that to the OUYA and display the action on a single screen when you’re both a reasonable distance from each other, but revert to split screen when you’re on opposite sides of the map and you’ve got a unique experience right there without even making much of a change to the basic gameplay. Add in network multiplayer over ethernet, and you’ve got some interesting ideas already. Not a replacement for a 360 or PS3 by any means, but rather a divergent development (at a far lower price point).

          Another cool idea here would be if you were playing a game on your Android mobile, say on your way home from work, and then you could pick it right back up on the big screen via some sort of cloud-stored save state and keep playing when you got home. This offers a distinct advantage over the OUYA’s competitors. Windows Phone has toyed around with Xbox integration, but the drastic differences in hardware capabilities means that Microsoft simply can’t offer an identical gaming experience across mobile/tablet and console platforms, and Nintendo’s Wii U controller is inherently limited in range because all of the processing is done by the console itself. The VIta is a bit closer to the mark with regard to cross-platform multiplayer, but it’s still not entirely cohesive.

          Community interaction on the OUYA I’m no expert on (at least until I get my console =), but there has been talk of some really integrated social stuff going on there. This I think will be more of a post-launch discovery process, rather than a pre-launch mandated feature.

          As for peripherals, again, not too sure, but OUYA has bluetooth, so in theory any device that can connect that way should be compatible…

          Anyway, just some thoughts. I could go on, but I think I’ve probably already far exceeded any reasonable word limit for an article comment already (and inadvertently paraphrased far too much of the original article)…

          edit: there will be exclusive titles released close to launch… Human Element’s episodic prequel has already been confirmed as an OUYA 1st party title, and we’re still four months out from official launch.

          tl;dr buy an OUYA at launch if you’re happy with the console ‘as is’. Hold out three to six months if you really want exclusive content.

    • I’m intending to use mine as a way to play GBA/NES/Nintendo 64/Arcade/etc games on my TV or in my room on my monitor. I also see it as a console that I can load up with a heap of cool co-op games and just take with me to any of my friends’ houses or GF’s house to play. Way easier than lugging around a PS3 and discs. Or entire computer.

  • I just want to know if I can use it with an external hard drive to make a discretionary media centre/server for my various wireless devices. Don’t care about games too much.

  • In order for this stupid thing to become any measure of success we need a good few LARGE devs getting behind it; and there simply arent that many.
    As the article said, this console needs its Halo, or Mario, or Uncharted… something that makes me want to actiualy buy the thing.
    Angry Birds and Cut the Rope ARENT these things! They are 0.99 cent apps made for people on public transport who have to kill 5 minutes. They arent for people who want to sit down and play a game for 3 hours after work.
    The apps for this console are time wasters. Not games.

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