OUYA - Cheap, Open-Source Android Game Console

Parallax Abstraction wrote:

Ben Kuchera lays out why people should be sceptical.

It's a very good report. This device is being nothing if not polarising. There are several well known industry veterans like Mojang and Brian Fargo who seem to be really behind this and think it's a great idea (though I do find it interesting that Fargo has said they have no immediate plans to bring Wasteland 2 to it) but other known indie developers are coming out pretty strongly against it. Kuchera also spends a bunch of time detailing missteps in their marketing which I agree with.

I'm leaving my Kickstarter active for now but I'm going to keep following this and see if they clarify their message and release more information before it ends. If info stays as it is right now though, I may decide to take a wait and see approach.

Was just coming here to post this. Sums up my feelings pretty good. I hope it does well, but have huge doubts about it.

I do think that though his headline says people should be sceptical, he's overhyping the negative points a bit much and it's pretty clear from his tone that his mind's already made up. I don't disagree with any of his points but I think that all but calling this a scam when they still have more than a month to provide further clarifications and get official announcements from developers is way too pre-mature. I also thought he'd be better than to reference the Phantom as for all the well-deserved raised eyebrows at this thing, Phantom was a company started by a known scammer and this simply isn't that.

At least with Kickstarter, you can change or withdraw your contribution before funding happens so everyone has plenty of opportunity to make up their minds.

Parallax Abstraction wrote:

Phantom was a company started by a known scammer and this simply isn't that.

Based on what I'm seeing on Wikipedia, that wasn't known until HardOCP did some digging which wasn't until months after the initial Phantom announcement. If anyone wants to do an investigation on this company they have about 30 days to do it, before the Amazon payments start moving. That's not a lot of time.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phantom...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HardOCP...

I remember reading an article a while back that said one of the principals behind Infinium Labs was a guy who had run several scam companies in the past. He wasn't out there declaring his involvement with the company admittedly but anyone who looked was able to find that out easily. I just don't get that vibe from this place as they have people involved who have developed and shipped products before. Like I said, I totally understand anyone who is waiting for proof of life before buying in but I think calling this a scam is unfair at this stage. There are names out there though so if some journalists managed to find conclusive evidence otherwise, I'll totally admit that everyone should stay away.

BenKuchera ‏@BenKuchera
Just got official word from Mojang. The Ouya video is wrong, Minecraft is not for sure coming. The FAQ is right: it may come later.

BenKuchera ‏@BenKuchera
Using Minecraft so prominently in the marketing and stating it's coming when it's far from a sure thing is kind of scummy.

I wrote a new blog post talking about what Kuchera got right and where I think he's being unfair and ignoring some basic concepts of how Kickstarter works. On the subject of their marketing, he's very much right and OUYA's creators really need to get some major clarifications out there fast. The whole Minecraft thing kind of feels like they made the video assuming they were going to get more commitment from Mojang than they did and if so, that was a stupid move on their part.

He makes a good point though.. this in no way is more attractive for any indie developer than the current PC market.. you have a massive installed base to market to.. all sorts of different types of demographics to tailor to.. and a plethora of free to cheap development platforms.

The only thing this has over that is in theory a standardized platform to develop for.. provided of course you get a large enough base to make it attractive.

He makes a good point though.. this in no way is more attractive for any indie developer than the current PC market.. you have a massive installed base to market to.. all sorts of different types of demographics to tailor to.. and a plethora of free to cheap development platforms.

The only thing this has over that is in theory a standardized platform to develop for.. provided of course you get a large enough base to make it attractive.

TheGameguru wrote:

He makes a good point though.. this in no way is more attractive for any indie developer than the current PC market.. you have a massive installed base to market to.. all sorts of different types of demographics to tailor to.. and a plethora of free to cheap development platforms.

The only thing this has over that is in theory a standardized platform to develop for.. provided of course you get a large enough base to make it attractive.

It's also (potentially) a cheaper way to get casual games to people who don't want to shell out for a PC, smartphone, or real console. A whole new market for Tiny Tower and the like.

I don't know though - obviously it's all predicated on having an install base. And anybody too cheap to own a real console or portable device may not be a great demographic to target with a freemium game.

One positive aspect is the fact that existing Android games will supposedly work on it unmodified using the trackpad, which means even if it's not broadly embraced by developers it's at least useful as a way to use stuff that exists for Android already on a TV. I don't know how easy it is to add gamepad support in Android, but if you already have an Android version of your game that's probably a thing worth doing.

gore wrote:

One positive aspect is the fact that existing Android games will supposedly work on it unmodified using the trackpad, which means even if it's not broadly embraced by developers it's at least useful as a way to use stuff that exists for Android already on a TV. I don't know how easy it is to add gamepad support in Android, but if you already have an Android version of your game that's probably a thing worth doing.

There are a bunch of joypad APIs already so it's not that difficult. There is Android support for the XBox 360 USB controller as well.

Here's the thing I don't get... I'm watching my son play Angry Birds right now. He's touching the bird sprites, pulling them back and releasing to launch them. When he plays Fruit Ninja, he's swiping his sword across the screen with a flick of his finger. Gameplay movements are mirrored almost 1:1 between the action on-screen and his fingers. As an indie dev, if I want to support their touch controller, I lose that tactile "precision" control in the game itself. (And yeah, precision is in quotes because it isn't really.) But there's that connection that makes these touch devices so compelling. So, I then have to write mouse pointer support into the game. I guess the experience would be the same as Angry Birds for Chrome which doesn't feel quite right. That connection is important for the majority of memorable Android games out there.

Also, I posted this on Twitter and I thought this was pretty dumb.

Ouya has a poll for what games should be on their "indie" console. Half the list are AAA games! http://ow.ly/ccjm0

That just seems to be idiotic because there is no way that modern games are going to run on that thing. So, why bother entertaining that idea to begin with? Are they (or their marketing group) that disconnected from gaming that they cannot properly target a poll? Skyrim and BattleToads alone are red flags that they are kind of crazy.

I think the Ouya brings into sharp focus a bigger issue with the whole Kickstarter crowd sourced funding paradigm. That is some of these projects are bound to be vapor ware, and end up producing nothing.

I'm curious what percentage of these projects people expect to succeed? How big do you think the internet backlash will be when projects that collected a significant amount of funding fail? Will this backlash be big enough to sour the Kickstarter user base from funding future projects? Will Kickstarter be the next Digg?

Stric9 wrote:

I think the Ouya brings into sharp focus a bigger issue with the whole Kickstarter crowd sourced funding paradigm. That is some of these projects are bound to be vapor ware, and end up producing nothing.

I'm curious what percentage of these projects people expect to succeed? How big do you think the internet backlash will be when projects that collected a significant amount of funding fail? Will this backlash be big enough to sour the Kickstarter user base from funding future projects? Will Kickstarter be the next Digg?

That was my fear above and I think it is. Once the internet gets burned it will be over. If people don't trust it they won't go for it. One of the benefits of Kickstarter has been for completed products that need cash to get to production, it works great for boardgames and the like. This isn't that.

Parallax Abstraction wrote:

I wrote a new blog post talking about what Kuchera got right and where I think he's being unfair and ignoring some basic concepts of how Kickstarter works. On the subject of their marketing, he's very much right and OUYA's creators really need to get some major clarifications out there fast. The whole Minecraft thing kind of feels like they made the video assuming they were going to get more commitment from Mojang than they did and if so, that was a stupid move on their part.

I bet they won't clarify ANYTHING until the Kickstarter closes. They don't want people to cancel. I still am skeptical that this thing will ever come to market. I don't think it's a scam but I don't think the product is going to ever materialize.

TheGameguru wrote:

He makes a good point though.. this in no way is more attractive for any indie developer than the current PC market.. you have a massive installed base to market to.. all sorts of different types of demographics to tailor to.. and a plethora of free to cheap development platforms.

The only thing this has over that is in theory a standardized platform to develop for.. provided of course you get a large enough base to make it attractive.

Here's what I don't get about the thing: It's an "open" platform but they are going to manage the store. I guess this is analogous to Steam but Steam is a closed platform.

I'm still highly skeptical that the device will ever hit the market. They are nowhere near launching a product in March of 2013, it's going to be pushed and I await the blowback when that happens. I also am skeptical that the company hasn't released any information about who's behind it and where it has received its funding thus far. I'm sure there are some angel investors and some VC but how committed are they? How many rounds have they completed? $4 million bucks (or whatever they end up selling) can be burned through very quickly.

I'm sure that's happened before, Kickstarter's been around for a while. I don't think people will sour on it unless it's a really, really large scale project. This one would probably qualify, if they were to never release anything (again, I don't see that happening). Doublefine's thing maybe, if they didn't release.

I think people that are cognizant enough of the KS situation are likely to realize the risk they're taking by backing anything, and will know better than to throw out the baby with the bathwater. Everyday consumers are not in on this yet, though that may change over time.

I do think you're going to get some impotent internet rage from gamers when they start getting the products they backed and everything isn't exactly how they envisioned, though.

Blind_Evil wrote:

I'm sure that's happened before, Kickstarter's been around for a while. I don't think people will sour on it unless it's a really, really large scale project. This one would probably qualify, if they were to never release anything (again, I don't see that happening). Doublefine's thing maybe, if they didn't release.

I think people that are cognizant enough of the KS situation are likely to realize the risk they're taking by backing anything, and will know better than to throw out the baby with the bathwater. Everyday consumers are not in on this yet, though that may change over time.

I do think you're going to get some impotent internet rage from gamers when they start getting the products they backed and everything isn't exactly how they envisioned, though. But at the end of the day, it's just that - impotent.

This thing going to end up raising over $5 million dollars. I don't think there has been a bust of this size on Kickstarter. This is a large enough bust that could get regulatory authorities more involved. People saying that the comparison to the Phantom are not fair are EXACTLY right. With the Phantom we need the names of the VC firms and other investors, as well with how much money was raised. With the Phantom we had a complicit games and tech media until HardOCP did some actual investigative journalism. That is very similar to this situation, the games and tech press (outside of this piece) are being complicit.

I don't care if some VC guy loses money. But, with Kickstarter we have non-qualified people being taken by their emotions. I am not a fan of Kickstarter for projects like this. I think Kickstarter owes it to the consumers using their service to be more stringent with what products they allow on it. It should be for products that are fundamentally finished and need the money to go into actual production. I didn't like the doublefine kickstarter but I knew saying anything against it would mark me as a heretic among gamers and I didn't want to get involved with that.

What is a benefit to this thing is that it's $99 and for a lot of us, we don't mind losing $99 on something and the sting won't last that long.

Ulairi wrote:

Here's what I don't get about the thing: It's an "open" platform but they are going to manage the store. I guess this is analogous to Steam but Steam is a closed platform.

Steam is starting to open up a little bit though. Well, more community driven is a better way to put it. Between the Greenlight and removing the need to have updates approved that's fairly close to open I think.

I am interested in this mainly for the apps factor and emulator potential for a 100 bucks, I am tempted to take a chance.

It's possible it might not come to market or it will just supply enough for kickstarters than that's all but I am interested in it, I might just decided to get a boxee or roku box instead.

Ulairi wrote:

This thing going to end up raising over $5 million dollars. I don't think there has been a bust of this size on Kickstarter. This is a large enough bust that could get regulatory authorities more involved. People saying that the comparison to the Phantom are not fair are EXACTLY right. With the Phantom we need the names of the VC firms and other investors, as well with how much money was raised. With the Phantom we had a complicit games and tech media until HardOCP did some actual investigative journalism. That is very similar to this situation, the games and tech press (outside of this piece) are being complicit.

Infinium Labs released the names of VC firms and investors backing it? Where? I'm not saying you're wrong but I followed that story a lot and never read anything like that. From what I understood, the guy got a few gullible individual and small group investors but was never able to attract VCs which is one of the reasons HardOCP started looking into it and why he wasn't able to keep that scheme going longer.

There have been other Kickstarter projects (like Serellan LLC's Takedown game) that were being pitched by relative unknown people who said that they had investor money waiting to activate if the Kickstarter campaign was successful. Granted, he raised a lot less money than this has so far but I didn't see any rage about that at the time, nor did I see any against the Pebble Watch which before this, was the biggest Kickstarter project ever and which also had nothing to show except prototypes. What makes this different than those?

Also, thanks for commenting on my blog post. I get very few comments so that was cool. Replied there too.

Ulairi, your whole argument there assumes that this isn't coming to market. I have already said multiple times I don't agree that it won't.

If something does go wrong, first of all congratulations for your foresight. Secondly, I'm not backing this thing, nor am I terribly interested as it's currently presented, so no skin off my nose. Third, as a guy that's backed two projects, I fully understood the situation, the possibility I would not get my $15 (DFA) and $50 (Banner Saga) worth. If people are dropping $99 on a whim here without understanding the terms of service, shame on them. The fine print here isn't even fine, it's obvious.

Parallax Abstraction wrote:
Ulairi wrote:

This thing going to end up raising over $5 million dollars. I don't think there has been a bust of this size on Kickstarter. This is a large enough bust that could get regulatory authorities more involved. People saying that the comparison to the Phantom are not fair are EXACTLY right. With the Phantom we need the names of the VC firms and other investors, as well with how much money was raised. With the Phantom we had a complicit games and tech media until HardOCP did some actual investigative journalism. That is very similar to this situation, the games and tech press (outside of this piece) are being complicit.

Infinium Labs released the names of VC firms and investors backing it? Where? I'm not saying you're wrong but I followed that story a lot and never read anything like that. From what I understood, the guy got a few gullible individual and small group investors but was never able to attract VCs which is one of the reasons HardOCP started looking into it and why he wasn't able to keep that scheme going longer.

They raised tens of millions of dollars.

http://www.heraldtribune.com/article...

One investor was in for $14 million dollars. If you want you can go through their SEC filings and find out every penny and go through their audited financial statements and get even more goodies.

There have been other Kickstarter projects (like Serellan LLC's Takedown game) that were being pitched by relative unknown people who said that they had investor money waiting to activate if the Kickstarter campaign was successful. Granted, he raised a lot less money than this has so far but I didn't see any rage about that at the time, nor did I see any against the Pebble Watch which before this, was the biggest Kickstarter project ever and which also had nothing to show except prototypes. What makes this different than those?

Pebble Watch actually worked and they wanted the funding to go into production. This isn't anywhere near production and they're promising a March 2013 release.

Also, thanks for commenting on my blog post. I get very few comments so that was cool. Replied there too.

I was going to take it there so people wouldn't stop liking me here.

Blind_Evil wrote:

Ulairi, your whole argument there assumes that this isn't coming to market. I have already said multiple times I don't agree that it won't.

If something does go wrong, first of all congratulations for your foresight. Secondly, I'm not backing this thing, nor am I terribly interested as it's currently presented, so no skin off my nose. Third, as a guy that's backed two projects, I fully understood the situation, the possibility I would not get my $15 (DFA) and $50 (Banner Saga) worth. If people are dropping $99 on a whim here without understanding the terms of service, shame on them. The fine print here isn't even fine, it's obvious.

This where be where my own personal bias comes into play. I don't want people who are not qualified to lose money in something and be taken advantage of by a corporation. If we had a games/tech press that actually did its job and weren't mainly used as complicit PR pieces. I just know how much money it costs to do something like this and we have very little information about how much money has been raised. If this is a whole ploy to show interest so they can receive VC I think they are being completely dishonest with the KS community.

Do they have VC? If so from who and how much. If they had released that information I would be more open to the thing coming out. If their plan is to raise money, get VC and go into production it may come out. If their plan is to raise money on KS and go into production it's not coming out.

I think it's good here. There's a lot of scepticism going around about this thing and I can understand why and I think the debate's good. You've also informed me on some things about Infinium Labs I didn't know. What I read is that they only went public after their previous financing dried up but that doesn't appear to be the case and I'll have to look into that again. Did Pebble Watch actually work? I saw their pitch and saw prototypes working in a controlled environment, pretty much just like OUYA. They claimed they had it working but so do these guys. I just don't see the difference I guess.

Like I said, I think Kuchera and others have raised some hard questions that these guys need to answer. If they either don't answer them or provide lame answers, I think they should be taken to task and I'll be the first one to do that. The key difference is that I want to give them a chance to respond and since I and everyone else can pull our money out for another month, I think it's only fair they be given a chance. I don't fault Kuchera's report for asking questions, I fault his pre-determined position and treating this thing as if it's a scam before there's been real proof of that established. The ball's in OUYA's court now. They need to not screw this up.

But I agree that the price of Kickstarter is eternal vigilance. Scepticism and questions are valid, I don't think hostility towards this is until they give a reason for it.

I've read and heard no less than three journalists warning people of the risks.

Blind_Evil wrote:

I've read and heard no less than three journalists warning people of the risks.

Do you have links to the other two? I'd like to read those stories.

gore wrote:
TheGameguru wrote:

He makes a good point though.. this in no way is more attractive for any indie developer than the current PC market.. you have a massive installed base to market to.. all sorts of different types of demographics to tailor to.. and a plethora of free to cheap development platforms.

The only thing this has over that is in theory a standardized platform to develop for.. provided of course you get a large enough base to make it attractive.

It's also (potentially) a cheaper way to get casual games to people who don't want to shell out for a PC, smartphone, or real console. A whole new market for Tiny Tower and the like.

I don't know though - obviously it's all predicated on having an install base. And anybody too cheap to own a real console or portable device may not be a great demographic to target with a freemium game.

One positive aspect is the fact that existing Android games will supposedly work on it unmodified using the trackpad, which means even if it's not broadly embraced by developers it's at least useful as a way to use stuff that exists for Android already on a TV. I don't know how easy it is to add gamepad support in Android, but if you already have an Android version of your game that's probably a thing worth doing.

Again though.. your competing with an already existing installed base.. I would agree with your point if not for the fact that there are millions of PC's out there.. many in the last few years that despite not having a dedicated GPU can play all sorts of casual games... There are probably very few people that are left that this device would be marketed to that don't have some sort of existing platform that would be a competitor.

The Tegra 3 brings some decent "power" at $100 though which will be impressive if developers take full advantage of it and develop games tailored for this device and a console friendly control scheme... Besides who wouldnt want to see a game that looks more impressive and plays even smoother than a current Xbox 360 game on a device like this.. it would disruptive and in the end would only benefit us as the consumer.

Parallax: Posting from my phone so links will be sloppy, sorry.

Luke Plunkett, Kotaku: "...a pledge is just a vote with money attached, it's not a guarantee the console will even be made, let alone find a modicum of success. So, just...enjoy the hype while it lasts, but if it all ends in a vacuum of money and a trail of broken promises, don't say history didn't warn you."

http://kotaku.com/5924983/history-is...

Linked in that article is this from Ian Bogost, warning that you're buying into the idea rather than the product.

http://www.bogost.com/blog/buying_hy...

Jeff Gerstmann was a bit hard on the idea on this week's bombcast.

PCMag.com article, "Why Kickstarter's Ouya Looks Like a Scam"

http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817...

How many people could there be spending $99 on a gaming console Kickstarter that don't read one of those sources? I don't buy that there are many poor simpletons backing this thing without a clue.

TheGameguru wrote:

The Tegra 3 brings some decent "power" at $100 though which will be impressive if developers take full advantage of it and develop games tailored for this device and a console friendly control scheme... Besides who wouldnt want to see a game that looks more impressive and plays even smoother than a current Xbox 360 game on a device like this.. it would disruptive and in the end would only benefit us as the consumer.

Which won't happen with a console who's first run is in the tens of thousands. Nobody will take that risk, because there's no way you'll get any return for your money on that.

What's disturbing is that they're theoretically 9 months out from launch, but there isn't a dev kit, there isn't a controller API(or controller, for that matter), and they're telling devs that they should just use regular Android devices to develop on:
https://twitter.com/playouya/status/...

This is a stupid response. The people behind the Ouya seem to be assuming that Android devs are just going to magically port their stuff to the console. It's 9 months out. They should be actively trying to get devs working with their stuff, not designing it.

Also, Notch confirmed today that there aren't any plans for Minecraft on the system at this point, because of issues with the Android port

Count me as one who is skeptical about this as well. In addition to the points Ben makes (particularly the one about making a root-friendly console with a closed for-pay store), this is the first thing I wondered about when I saw this: Why are they asking for a little less than a million dollars? To do the work they need to do in order to really make this thing they will need far more money than that. Enough more that going to Kickstarter to raise a drop in the bucket seems to make no sense other than maybe as a marketing ploy (assuming their angels or VCs are giving them the real money they need). On the other hand, if they are really using Kickstarter to raise the money they need, and they think a million dollars is enough, then they are likely too naive to make much progress on this thing, and it will bust sooner rather than later.

Some people have mentioned the word scam. I don't think this is a scam, and my sense of Ben Kuchera's article is that he doesn't think so, either. I do think that they are terribly naive and bound for failure. The marketing folks do seem to be crossing some ethical lines, but I wouldn't assume the project as a whole is a scam. Just misguided.

Blind_Evil wrote:

PCMag.com article, "Why Kickstarter's Ouya Looks Like a Scam"

http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817...

I think this one hits on another one of my concerns. They haven't even finalized any portion of the hardware yet, but have already determined it will cost $99. That seems like a great opportunity for them to either have to make way more concessions than they originally envisioned or squandor the kickstarter money they earned because they are forced to sell the first batch at a loss.