Last year, a console showed up on Kickstarter. That alone piqued interest, but it was the console’s promises that got everyone excited. For only $100—half the price of a low-end Xbox 360 or Playstation 3—Ouya promised users a repository of new games from independent developers.
It quickly met its funding goal and finally launched earlier this year to a mediocre reception. What went wrong? Why is this $100 console not catching on and building a following? And can it still succeed?
Here’s a few ways that the Ouya can potentially redeem itself.
Image via Flickr by Saad Faruque
Secure Exclusive Games
One of the biggest draws in the gaming world are exclusive games. If you give gamers a great, exclusive game, they’re forced to pick up your console to play it. To date, Ouya hasn’t delivered on this front. In fact, due to the lackluster sales of its games, it’d be difficult to get a company to agree to an exclusive game, but it needs to happen. Without an exclusive game, the Ouya is stuck receiving ports of games available on other systems, and some games released in the past few months on the Ouya have been available to gamers on other systems for over three years. In one specific instance, Ouya received a port of a game that’s nine years old.
While it’s nice that the Ouya lets you download a demo before purchasing a new game, in the gaming world, anything older than six months is considered archaic. Porting a game that’s months or even years old is not going to entice gamers. If Ouya can’t secure exclusive games, then the next step is to make those that do have the console happy by releasing games on the same day they hit other systems.
There’s another problem: Android games are designed to be played on a touch screen. That means games originally played with a controller have to be reprogrammed in order to work on the Ouya. More and more developers are going to think that it’s not worth the time to go back and reprogram their games if Ouya can’t build a big enough audience.
Find an Audience
Though marketed to Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 owners as a budget console, the Ouya is receiving ports of Android games designed for mobile phones and tablets. Those that want to play cell phone games already have capable cell phones, so who exactly is Ouya marketing to?
With Sony offering a larger focus on the Indie game community with the Playstation 4, it’s more important than ever for Ouya to start securing exclusive games and get those console-quality games that it so desperately needs.
Fix the Controller
Image via Flickr by pcutler
One of the biggest problems with Ouya straight out of the box was its controller. It wasn’t in the controller’s design — in fact, the controller’s design is near perfect, essentially merging the Xbox 360’s and Playstation 3’s controller layouts into one controller. The problem is with the buttons. The joysticks feel flimsy, and the buttons occasionally stick — a big enough problem that replacement controllers had to be sent out to some users.
All isn’t lost, though — you can hook up a Playstation 3 or an Xbox 360 controller to the Ouya instead, though it’s a little weird to have to use another company’s controller with a system.
Upgrade the Parts
At the speed technology develops today, a new system becomes outdated almost as soon as it’s released, which is what happened to the Ouya. In order to keep costs down, the console uses parts that aren’t really all that powerful. In fact, any phone or tablet released in the past year or two has better parts than the Ouya does. The company doesn’t offer an option to pay more for a better console, either — you’re stuck with what you have.
Ouya has some options for redeeming its product. It could release a version of the console with improved parts. Ouya could start a tiered system and allow users to pay for a more powerful console. One way or another, something needs to be done, and quick.
The Ouya isn’t dead in the water, but it’s possibly stranded far out at sea wearing only a life jacket. After a less than ideal launch, the Ouya team should be working around the clock to improve the system.
Can you think of any other ways the Ouya could potentially redeem itself?