Thursday, July 12, 2012

Be Wary of OUYA and Its Promises

No, the image is not wrong. Like the mystical ouija board, people at Kickstarter are promising something that is very good in theory, but really bad in practice. The Ouija board promises its users to talk with the spirits and ask them question. Of course, anyone who lost a loved one would support a device who promises something they would love to be able to do. But the ouija board is a proven scam, which have no real supernatural powers, fun for a party but with no long term utility. 

The OUYA guys use a very clever trick to convince people to support them. It promises to be very cheap, at US$99, with a relative powerful hardware, a very open source structure both in hardware and in software and that it will have plenty of games. Now, of course anyone would love to have one. It is the dream machine for many gamers, free of all the inconveniences of the modern consoles. Except that each one of those promises fails to cite the problems they carry over.
How can you not love the chrome cube?
Let's start with the magical low pricing. I don't doubt the components, if bought in scale, will make the console cheap. What I doubt is that the OUYA guys will be able to keep such scale. The price on a console is not only its components. It is the work force you need to assembly it, transport it to the consumers and its costs, marketing and all other costs that are not just buying electronic components and they don't remember their supporters about it. 

Their Kickstaster may make enough money to make some units, maybe a few dozen thousands of them, but the OUYA makers will need a great inflow of cash to keep making the console at low price and that means they will need profit very early on. Game makers will not make games specifically for the OUYA if they don't have a big enough installed user base. 

And here comes the second problem. The OUYA will be an Android OS machine, meaning that it will run the same OS on most smartphones not made by Apple. It means that from the start, it will have plenty of games. Games that you don't need to spend US$99 to play if you have an Android or even an Apple device, because most of the best games already are available on them. It will make even harder to convince most people to spend money on a console just to play games in your home if the games they offer can be played in a more useful device like a table or a smartphone.

But this IS a sexy controller.
The third problem they fail to cite is its open source nature. Sure, it is great for small developers and for people wishing to do some alterations in the hardware to make it work in ways not intended by its creators. But it is not so great for the developers. See, developers can only keep running if they win money out of their games. And a machine that will make no effort to fight piracy is doomed to fail. 

See the PSP as an example. Many developers forgot about Sony portable because it was too easy to crack it and run pirated copies of games. The OUYA in fact promise to make it easy to run modified software, meaning that pirates will fast start to distribute options to people just not pay a dime for games in the console. And if developers don't sell enough games, they will have neither the money nor the will to support the device. And with no games, no reason to buy it. It is a vicious cycle here. 

The OUYA cannot just Kickstart itself every time they need to make new units, so they will need the ability to fund themselves after launch. They plan to receive 30% of any sale made by its own market, but if developers don't make games for it or said games don't sell because it is easier to get a game for free, they will not have enough money to support themselves.

It is a beauty box, but what is inside is the problem.
Unless the OUYA can have some great must have games and convince people to not pirate it, pretty please, it will hardly be a success. Remember that OUYA is not the first new console to promise the world to gamers, only to never see daylight ht or to be an utter failure. It have a lot of problems to its concept (the fact it is not even a real console we can buy yet being the main one) and while good on paper, it is in the practice that it shows its possible shortcomings.

The OUYA is promising everything gamers those days want. An open format, cheap to acquire, full of cheap games not made by traditional developers that maybe will be great and an option to the Big 3. Of course there is a lot to love about the idea. But the fact is: it is all a dream at this moment. He don't know if will be successful, or even if we will in fact see the machine done.

Before claiming the OUYA IS a revolution, you must say it can be a revolution, but like the Joker plan in Batman: The Dark Knight, it needs to work exactly as planned and that nothing can go wrong. And there is very little space for the OUYA to go wrong and back right here.

In the end, what I see is like a politician promise. It is all great when you say what you will do and what will happen. But there is very little about how you will do and what happens if things go not as intended.

Like an ouija board, the OUYA promises a very cool thing. But like a politician, it is selling us a promise they may not be able to accomplish, and not saying us that. I am very skeptical about it and I cannot recommend anyone to put their money in it. Not when all we have are promises.


  1. It would be very nice to read this without a 95 geocities background and that you could fucking use verbs and pronouns properly.

    1. Thank you for your feedback. I wasn't happy with the background either so I changed to something more neutral. Hope it make your reading more pleasant. I also checked the writing again and correct the mistakes. I am Brazilian and English is my second language, so I make those mistakes a lot. One of the reasons I blog in English is to keep practicing it so I hope to improve my skills. Hope to see you again.


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