The open, indie-friendly OUYA console, which launched this time last month, has experienced slow sales in its game marketplace, according to developers of its most popular games. But while the money isn't quite there yet, many remain positive, saying they've been able to share the limelight with a newly launched platform garnering lots of interest with its new ideas.
I had a chance to play (and love) arguably the OUYA's most popular game, Towerfall, at this year's E3. One month later, it has sold around 2,000 copies, worth around $30,000, according to an Edge interview with creator Matt Thornson. It's a number Thornson seems happy with, but the game deserves more.
Undoubtedly, many more would have tried and enjoyed a lesser version of the game for free - one of the OUYA's main draws is that everything is free to try. Theoretically, one could pay the initial $99 USD and never pay another cent, and perhaps many are doing just that. Over 58,000 units were acquired through Kickstarter, and despite the unit being available online and at retail, NPD reports sales as "light". Enthusiastic communities surround the OUYA, but are just as likely to spend time with its other features, such as emulation, media centres, side-loaded apps and hacking, as they are its game marketplace.
Thornson is positive about his OUYA experience: "Launching on Ouya got me a lot of attention, and the sales have been better than expected," he told Edge, and similar sentiments can be found from his pioneering peers.
Speaking to Gamasutra, Joe Albrethsen of the DubWars team (a twin-stick shooter with gameplay responding to a dubstep soundtrack) said, "We knew if we could develop for this new console and have something ready for release it would bring about something to help put our company on the map. We did treat Ouya as a stepping stone from the begging and did not view it as the end platform for our success." He added, "We were fortunate enough to be featured upon release, but now that they have cycled the category we have seen a dramatic dip in sales."
Towerfall's Thornson has been able to follow a similar strategy - after a relatively successful OUYA campaign, it's ending its exclusivity with the platform and releasing on PC:
This suggests the OUYA might be fulfilling its promise providing developers with the easiest route to living the Indie Dream - releasing a well-designed game on a platform with very low barriers to entry, and getting noticed for it. Not just launching a game, but launching a career. For now though, at least, the monetary rewards of such toiling might have to come from elsewhere - and there's no telling if the limelight that the OUYA generously shares with its indies is limited to the launch of the platform itself.
We'll be receiving our OUYA in a few days, and will post more about the games on offer.