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Ouya CEO Talks Console's Tough First Year, and Ambitious "Ouya Everywhere" Plan 134

Posted by samzenpus
from the listen-up dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes "As founder and CEO of the Ouya (pronounced "OOO-yah") game company, Julie Uhrman's mission has been to lure gamers back to their living room televisions. Touch-screen gaming on a smartphone or tablet is nice, she suggests, but a big screen, coupled with the precision of a controller with buttons and analog sticks, offers the best platform for immersive, emotionally engaging experiences. Soon enough, though, you shouldn't need an Ouya console to play Ouya games. Later this week, Uhrman plans to announce 'Ouya Everywhere,' an initiative to bring Ouya games to television sets that aren't connected to Ouya hardware. As a company, Ouya remains vague about just how Ouya Everywhere will work; but in an interview with Slashdot, Uhrman provided a rough idea of what to expect: 'It could be another set-top [box],' she said. 'It could be the TV itself. There's a number of different ways that games can be played on the television, and we're actively exploring all of them.' To be clear, Ouya isn't getting out of the hardware business. The company has promised relatively frequent hardware refreshes, and already upgraded the original Ouya's controller to address early complaints. The next version of the Ouya hardware 'at a minimum will have a higher performing chipset,' she said. 'We have done a lot of work on our controller and we feel like there is even more work to do. Those are the two big things we're focused on.' But while her company builds hardware, Uhrman insists that Ouya is 'really a software company. The largest team inside Ouya is software engineers.' (Ouya has 49 employees, 19 of them engineers.) Ouya arrived with great fanfare in 2012, after a $950,000 Kickstarter campaign met its goal in just eight hours. The fundraiser ended up raising $8.6 million, and Kickstarter backers received their consoles in March 2013."
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Ouya CEO Talks Console's Tough First Year, and Ambitious "Ouya Everywhere" Plan

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  • by AtariDatacenter (31657) on Monday March 03, 2014 @11:23AM (#46387567)

    I was an original backer for the Ouya. The interface is a bit awkward, but worse, the software titles just aren't compelling. There doesn't seem to be a great reason to make an exclusive Ouya game, and anything you can find there you can get on your phone or another platform. Playing smartphone games on your TV just doesn't deliver any kind of wow factor. :(

    • Never heard of this company before, do they have any games? What makes them different from other big name game companies?

      • by hattig (47930) on Monday March 03, 2014 @11:38AM (#46387659) Journal

        The devices run Android, and thus gain from being able to play Android games.

        Ouya has its own app store where games that are optimised for the Ouya are sold. By optimised, I mean more than just targeting the hardware, but also how it is used - controller on a TV, rather than touch-screen device.

        As you can imagine, this can be quite hit and miss. Additionally, the Ouya hardware fell behind the market fairly quickly because of its use of a Tegra 3 which is actually quite poor in terms of graphical power. A Tegra 4 iteration should do a lot to fix this, although a Tegra K1 would be most optimal.

        If Apple cared about this market, they would stick an A7 in the next Apple TV and thrash the Ouya senseless with superior hardware, and their app store and developer mindshare (everyone would optimise their iOS games for the Apple TV fairly rapidly).

        • If Apple cared about this market,

          And they haven't.

          I don't think we'll see apple make a move here any time soon.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by fsck-beta (3539217)
            Actually with the iOS 7 controller support, this has been rumoured for the next generation AppleTV for quite some time. All sources point to an overhaul of the AppleTV later this year as well, likely related.
            • Yeah, but I really take Apple rumors with a giant grain of salt. How many times have Apple rumors just simply been wrong?

              There's a lot of smoke there, to be sure, but to guess what Apple is going to do is a fool's errand.

              • Sure, but strings representing the next-gen AppleTV have already showed up in iOS builds. Controller support is there. The rest is less concrete :)
                • Like I said. A lot of smoke. Let's see if there's fire.

                  I think Apple could strike it huge here, since gaming wouldn't be the primary purpose. They can afford to fall a little flat and have it pick up later.

        • by aardvarkjoe (156801) on Monday March 03, 2014 @12:14PM (#46387913)

          Additionally, the Ouya hardware fell behind the market fairly quickly because of its use of a Tegra 3 which is actually quite poor in terms of graphical power. A Tegra 4 iteration should do a lot to fix this, although a Tegra K1 would be most optimal.

          I've really never bought this argument. The Ouya hardware compares quite favorably with xbox/ps2 generation of consoles, but there aren't many (if any) Ouya games that come close to the quality of games on those consoles. The problem is a lack of developers targetting Ouya, not a lack of capability of the hardware itself.

          I'm very pleased with my Ouya -- it's easily been worth the cost -- but it's definitely got its weak points.

          • by tepples (727027) <tepples@nOSpAM.gmail.com> on Monday March 03, 2014 @01:49PM (#46388539) Homepage Journal
            I can see two reasons why major game developers might decline to port games to OUYA. One is Android's almost audio latency, which is far too high for some genres. Another is that some developers just don't want to be on the same platform as amateur hour.
            • Oh, I agree -- if I was making the calls for a major game developer, I probably wouldn't devote the resources to Ouya either. I'm just saying that the limitations of the hardware really aren't the primary reason why Ouya doesn't have very many high-quality games -- and I don't think that a hardware refresh with more power is going to substantially change that.

          • by luther349 (645380)
            yea that's alot of hype i rember seeing dead trigger for tegra 3 with all of the fancy shaders etc. then all of a sudden the tegra 4 comes out and the 3 magically cant do those things on dead trigger 2 lol. not saying the new chip isn't better but you get the point. and being people are still writing for single core Android 2x phones its going to be a wile before quad core android are even close to dated.
        • Additionally, the Ouya hardware fell behind the market fairly quickly because of its use of a Tegra 3 which is actually quite poor in terms of graphical power. A Tegra 4 iteration should do a lot to fix this, although a Tegra K1 would be most optimal.

          By the time a company the size of Ouya designs, prototypes, tests, tweaks, retests, produces, and ships a product, there will be another generation or two beyond that available and they'll be behind again. Mobile CPU/GPU advancements are simply happening too quickly right now for them to be leveraged by anyone except the heaviest of heavy hitters.

        • by Jonny_eh (765306)
          With respect to hardware, cost is a big factor. Compare the price of the OUYA ($99, Tegra 3) to the Madcatz MOJO ($250, Tegra 4). And it's not fair to point at a subsidized phone either, since their true prices are in the many hundreds of dollars. Disclosure: I work at OUYA.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Luthair (847766)
        Nothing. They suckered a bunch of people on Kickstarter with a game console based on Android
      • by kamapuaa (555446) on Monday March 03, 2014 @11:41AM (#46387701) Homepage

        You have a six digit UID on Slashdot, and you've never heard of Ouya?

        Do you at least know what Raspberry Pi or Bitcoins are?

        • by houghi (78078)

          Food, right? Chocelate coins and some variation on apple pie.

        • by Sockatume (732728)

          I didn't realise that six digits carried any sort of prestige. I must be getting old.

          There will be a four-digit user along any moment to put us in our place.

          • I didn't realise that six digits carried any sort of prestige. I must be getting old.

            You must be new here.

            There will be a four-digit user along any moment to put us in our place.

            Yep, telling us about Hot Grits, Natalie Portman and $$$ Profit.

            • by rwa2 (4391) *

              There will be a four-digit user along any moment to put us in our place.

              Yep, telling us about Hot Grits, Natalie Portman and $$$ Profit.

              No, you're thinking of the 3-digit UIDs.

        • by sootman (158191)

          Holy cow, six-digit IDs are low now? Sweet!

    • by i kan reed (749298) on Monday March 03, 2014 @11:36AM (#46387651) Homepage Journal

      Having very high expectations for a kickstarter project, no matter how well financed, is setting yourself up for disappointment. In spite of all the corporate bullshit that gets rolled into the designs, major consoles have gone through multiple iterations in business practices that help encourage development for their consoles.

    • I was an original backer for the Ouya. The interface is a bit awkward, but worse, the software titles just aren't compelling. There doesn't seem to be a great reason to make an exclusive Ouya game, and anything you can find there you can get on your phone or another platform. Playing smartphone games on your TV just doesn't deliver any kind of wow factor. :(

      Non-compelling titles and not much reason for developers to target the Ouya platform pretty much sums it up. Also, for all the hype concerning the controller, it's not very well-designed and the buttons stick.

      I'm still rooting for them, but the execution was pretty disappointing.

      • Given how much they touted the controller, the research, the manufacturing iterations, etc: it is really *bad*. Input isn't lag free, buttons don't feel good, the quality in your hand is quite low. That is what made me most disappointed :/
    • After seeing the Amazing Frog video, I kinda want to buy one just so I can be the Ribbit King!
    • by Jmc23 (2353706)
      So you're saying you're disappointed there's nothing exclusive on ouya and you also think there's no compelling reason to make an exclusive game. !and you got +5 insightful?!

      bunch of idiots.

  • That way they can declare it a smashing success.
  • ...that don't look and smell like shovelware. There are enough good games on the Ouya to have kept me from regretting my purchase, though. And of the games I've bought I've spent far more time playing them on the Ouya than any of the fancier games on my Nexus 7 simply because the touch screen interface is a pain in the butt, and a controller remains the best way to do this. Ouya's been fun enough for my household at least that I'll keep supporting them as long as the price remains right.
    • by hattig (47930)

      Can you use the Ouya controller with your Nexus 7? It is a standard Bluetooth controller, yeah?

      • by kcbnac (854015)

        I was able to hook mine up to my Windows 7-running desktop, and use it for the Steam Big Picture mode; not everything worked out-of-the-box and I didn't putz with it to get it fully functional; but a little tweaking and it'd probably be perfect. (This was ~Sept 2013 or so)

        There is also an Android App "Blue Board" that lets you use your Android phone or tablet as an input device on the Ouya (You install it on both the Ouya and controlling device). Makes keyboard input much easier (if you're using it for we

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I wanted to like it because of what it supposedly stood for and meant but at the end of the day it was buggy, laggy, and had one of the worst and least responsive controllers I have ever used. Some of the games (top games too) are embarrassingly bad. Luckily I bought mine after KS and could return it, which I did.

    • by CastrTroy (595695)
      Doesn't really surprise me. There's a few reasons that gamepads for consoles cost $40+, and one if them is because it costs a lot to make a quality game pad. If MadCatz and others could make a quality gamepad and undercut the first party guys, you know they would, but instead the only way to undercut the first party controllers is to make them terrible. I knew from the outset of the project that they wouldn't be able to provide a good Android box and controller for $100. Looking at the price of the compon
  • I just don't understand what kind of market these are going for. These retail for $129. A Wii U is $250, the PS4 retails for $399, and Steam boxes are coming soon. So who would buy one of these? And why would I want to play silly little android games on my TV? I barely want to play them on my phone.

    The only use I could see would be to run emulators and play old Nintendo, Super Nintendo, etc roms on it. Of course you could just spend $20 on a gamekilp [thegameklip.com] to accomplish this. And it's pretty trivial to share yo
    • by ChaseTec (447725)

      A gameklip gives you portable gaming which OUYA can't offer. A better comparison would be a slimport/mhl adapter to add HDMI out to your phone and the SixAxis app to pair a PS3 controller over bluetooth. If you already have a phone then buying these accessories is cheaper than an OUYA and you get a better controller and a larger selection of games.

      • If you already have a phone

        I already have a phone, but I haven't been able to find a lot of games for an Audiovox 8610, other than the Blackjack game and Columns clone it comes with.

        Let me word it less flippantly: Some people don't have a smartphone. They would rather save money by carrying a separate prepaid dumbphone and tablet or a dumbphone and compact laptop than pay $400 a year extra for a cellular data plan. This includes, for example, parents of kids who have a phone just for arranging rides and other urgent purposes.

    • These retail for $129. A Wii U is $250, the PS4 retails for $399, and Steam boxes are coming soon. So who would buy one of these?

      They retail for $99, and sometimes you've been able to get them on sale for less than that. There's a big difference between $100 and $250 (or $400).

      If you're buying a PS4, then you're not the target market here. I don't play enough games to make it worthwhile to buy one of the expensive consoles. The Ouya, on the other hand, is the right price.

      • .

        I don't play enough games to make it worthwhile to buy one of the expensive consoles.

        The "expensive" consoles get you better games.

        $199, gets you a PS3, which has:

        Access to a HUGE amount of games on PSN including PS3 games, PSN exclusives, PS2 remasters, PSone classics and mini's which are phone/tablet style games.
        PS3 games on Disc.
        PSone games on disc. Yes, PSone game discs work in ANY PS3, even the ones that can't play PS2 discs.
        A 3D capable blu-ray player
        An upscaling DVD Player
        A CD player and ripper.
        Access to video via several services: PSN, Amazon Instant Video, Vudu, Cinemanow, Netfl

        • The "expensive" consoles get you better games.

          Which doesn't matter, if playing those games is not worth the extra price to you.

          Why are some people so obsessed with the idea that everyone has to place equal values on things? I don't think you're "wrong" for not wanting an Ouya. And I'm not "wrong" for not wanting a PS3.

          • by tepples (727027)
            If games aren't worth the extra price of a PlayStation 3 over an OUYA console, then why not get a Roku box instead? At least it has all the noninteractive video streaming services.
            • I said "those games" (referring to the parent poster's statement that the PS3 has "better games") not just games in general. Of course people who buy an Ouya want to play games. But to me, having those PS3 games is not worth the price of admission.

              Those who claim that you can get a better gaming experience for "only" double or triple the cost are completely missing the point. For some people, there is zero chance that they will spend the money required for a big-name console. The choice is not between O

          • I don't think you're "wrong" for not wanting an Ouya. And I'm not "wrong" for not wanting a PS3.

            Let me explain my side of it, hopefully better.

            I see those tablet/phone style games as "mostly inferior" to the ones available on the PS3. Even Minecraft PE isn't as good as the PS3 version.

            Now if you're on a phone/tablet without your PS3 around, that's a different story, you're stuck with mostly-crappy phone/tablet games...unless you got a DSfoo/PSP/Vita

            But the Ouya is intended to sit in the living room next to the TV. And frankly, as a gaming machine, the PS3 is utterly superior to that Ouya. Maybe i

            • by tepples (727027)
              Perhaps OUYA is supposed to be a platform on which developers can gain the experience that would lead to founding a "real" game studio.
            • I see those tablet/phone style games as "mostly inferior" to the ones available on the PS3.

              Maybe part of the problem is that many people see the Ouya as being a way to play tablet/phone games on your TV. Although there's a lot of (generally not very well done) ports of phone games -- expected, given that doing so is so easy for the developer -- those really aren't the best games on the Ouya.

              And frankly, as a gaming machine, the PS3 is utterly superior to that Ouya.

              As a "gaming machine?" Sure. But in terms of a gaming experience? That's a matter of opinion. What matters for a good gaming experience is the enjoyment that the player gets, and I get just as much enjoymen

    • by NotDrWho (3543773)

      I just don't understand what kind of market these are going for.

      I think the original idea was to market this thing to deadbeat dads. They would stock them in drugstores and Dollar General stores so that loser dads could run in and grab a "game console" for their kid's birthday at the last minute after an all-night bender at the bar--all without having to spend too much of their beer budget. IIRC, "Get your kid a game console, just like their goddamn sober stepdad!" was the original marketing slogan.

  • by CohibaVancouver (864662) on Monday March 03, 2014 @12:41PM (#46388055)

    As founder and CEO of the Ouya (pronounced "OOO-yah")

    Never understand why people start up companies with difficult-to-pronounce names.

    Here's a tip: If you have to *tell* people how to pronounce the name of your company / product then you have the wrong name!

    • by erroneus (253617)

      I dunno... Ikea seems to be doing pretty well.

    • Never understand why people start up companies with difficult-to-pronounce names.

      Because someone else already registered the easy ones with some trademark office. Besides, it varies by language. A lot of English speakers initially mispronounced "Wii" as "why" instead of the correct "we". (See Luigi's Final Smash [dagobah.net].) And I'm told the "Ekkusu-Bokkusu" from "Maikurosofuto" is a bit of a tongue-twister for a Japanese speaker.

  • I know how Ouya is going to do Ouya Everywhere without Ouya equipment. They will broadcast from all cell towers on Channel 3. So just change to Channel 3 and you will get Ouya Everywhere. You call in to an 800# using your touch tone keypad to act as a controller.

  • by RKThoadan (89437) on Monday March 03, 2014 @01:28PM (#46388385)

    I got mine mostly for a xbmc media player and occasional gaming. It took a little while for them to work the kinks out with the xbmc folks, but it's pretty stable now. We play games very rarely.

    I think their policy that all games must have a free trial of some kind may be hurting them, and encouraging in-app purchase games, which I can't stand. I think it would be a great market for retro-classics, but I really don't want to think about someone making Pac-Man with a trial version.

    • I think their policy that all games must have a free trial of some kind may be hurting them

      This is true. Demos don't make sales. It's incredibly hard to make a good demo of a game. You have to simultaneously provide enough content to show off the game while also not giving the player enough game so that they don't feel satisfied with just the demo. Since people try games on impulse, based on curiosity, one could use videos and hype to drive curiosity so they plunk down the money and buy the game to try it out (lather, rinse repeat); This works but Ouya forbids this. Instead out of curiosity

      • It's incredibly hard to make a good demo of a game. You have to simultaneously provide enough content to show off the game while also not giving the player enough game so that they don't feel satisfied with just the demo.

        Doom by Id Software, a first-person shooter for PC, managed it by ending the free-to-play episode "Knee-Deep in the Dead" on a cliffhanger. After this, the player could pay once to unlock "The Shores of Hell" and "Inferno", and later copies came with a fourth episode "Thy Flesh Consumed".

        Demo? Nope, try a friend's copy first

        How can someone do that in the Internet era, when one's "friends" likely live hundreds of miles or hundreds of kilometres away? Are you referring to Steam library lending, or do some games let players invite another player

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Bought an Ouya and was unable to do anything without entering a credit card number. Seriously you can not even go to the main menu.

    Once they have your info purchasing full version games is one button slip away and they ask you to do it with a pop up window while playing.

    Returned it same day to target.

  • It's basically a freaking Linux steambox without a mouse. Mice are the #1 reason PC gamers are better than console gamers. I'd rather eat a pineapple blindfolded with my hands tied behind my back than aim a gun with a joystick. THAT is why the console failed. Moronic console monkeys already have 3 console choices with better game selections. They're perfectly happy living in their own little zoo that already exists. Geekier gaming enthusiasts use REAL computers, not an Ouya.
    • Mice are the #1 reason PC gamers are better than console gamers.

      SILENCE you Dirty Elitist PC Gamer Bourgeosie!

      Before there were gaming PC's in the home, there were consoles. WE are the original superior species, not you dirty overly entitled spoiled trash wasting money on hardware instead of games. And then you do nothing but play a single free game or map over and over again and consider yourselves "athletes" or "playing an e-sport". Dirty Cheap PC Gamer Philistines! Real gamers play multiple games and genres, not just WoW, LOL, Counter-Strike or Team Fortress.

      Mice

      • "Before there were gaming PC's in the home, there were consoles."
        FALSE!
        • I'm sorry, the Odyssey 1 and the various Pong machines predate the Apple 1, let alone the Microsoft/Intel/PC hegemony

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M... [wikipedia.org]

          It even predates the MITS Altair so don't go trotting that out.

          You also might want to look at this:

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H... [wikipedia.org]

          For every spoiled suburban brat with affluent parents who had a Trash 80, PET or Apple II, there were 10 people with Atari 2600's.

      • Also, you can hook a USB controller to a PC. We win, you lose.
        • Also, you can hook a USB controller to a PC.

          Also you can hook a USB keyboard and mouse to a console, not counting the non-usb mice and/or keyboards for earlier consoles.

          I first hooked up a USB keyboard and mouse to a PS2 in 2002...back when the few Filthy PC Gamer Bourgeoisie who used gamepads were often still using inferior Sidewinders with their PC's instead of superior Dual Shocks.

          So WE still win, Filthy PC Gamer! Have fun playing a single map in LoL or CS over and over.

    • Mice are the #1 reason PC gamers are better than console gamers.

      When your friends come visit your house/apartment and want to play video games with you on the TV in the living room, how many mice can you plug into one PC and have them work?

      I'd rather eat a pineapple blindfolded with my hands tied behind my back than aim a gun with a joystick.

      So why was Centipede one of the few arcade shooters to use a mouse-like control instead of a joystick? Not all shooters are first-person.

      • They bring their laptops. Or I use a cheap wireless HDMI streamer.
        • by tepples (727027)

          They bring their laptops.

          That has drawbacks: everyone having to drive back home to get the laptops (or, alternatively, having to preplan the LAN party which destroys spontaneity), having to buy multiple copies of a game [cracked.com], and the possibility of not everyone already owning a gaming laptop as opposed to one with a pre-Ivy Bridge Intel CPU used as a secondary Office-and-Facebook computer alongside a desktop PC. I explain further here [pineight.com].

          Or I use a cheap wireless HDMI streamer.

          How does that work? Can it combine multiple PCs' displays into one stream that gets sent to the televis

  • It is a fun little console. Some of the sames, while simplistic, are quite pretty and are fun (Ballistic is a good example of this).

    That said, I realize I am in the tiny minority.

  • by RanceJustice (2028040) on Monday March 03, 2014 @05:48PM (#46390729)

    I was an original Kickstarter backer of the Ouya. I have my "chocolate metallic" version sitting right next to my bedroom TV at the moment. Overall, I've been happy with the little box. For $99, it is probably the best "network media player" out there, with XBMC for Android installed. The fact that it plays games is simply a plus. The hardware was sufficiently powerful and of good quality at the time it launched (aside from the snafu with the first controllers). However, there are only a handful of things that keep it from being the magic device everyone spoke of, and most of them are only semi-technical decisions that could easily be reversed.

    First of all, one of the biggest failings in my mind is that while it is very close to an Android device, it isn't exactly compatible with every Android app. Now most of them can be sideloaded by a technically proficient user, but I think they'd do much better of instead of having an Ouya OS that is essentially designed to disguise the "androidness" of the whole thing, it should highlight it. Offer a core AOSP experience, frequently updated (last I checked the OuyaOS is based on Android 4.1), and offer a custom, FOSS UI that is made to be navigated with the controller instead. Make it easy for people to update and use Android apps! Put installers for other app stores in the Ouya marketplace when possible, even! Let people load up Netflix for Android etc... They are paying the price in terms of content and developers coming to the platform because it is seen as an additional platform, not simply as hardware that can be tapped by those already developing on Android! They had a great idea with it being an "open" console, but it would be even more 'open' if it was completely Android compliant!

    Next, they should have provided users a better installed experience from the very start. While I've gotten tons of use out of my Ouya with XBMC, I had to find the correct Android alpha build that had all the proper flags and sideload it, then launch it from the "Make" entry on the Ouya menu (because all sideloaded stuff basically requires developer-are access - not hard to acquire of course, but it does present a barrier. They could have made a separate menu for sideloaded content that was more accessible). Why wasn't it installed by default, and automatically updated? Way back in the beginning, the company stated they were working with XBMC for compatibility etc.. why wasn't it installed on every Ouya? Or at least, available in the Ouya Store to be installed with a few button presses? This was a simple change that really could have made it a much better out of the box experience for a ton of people. An Ouya with XMBC alone is a better media streamer that is more powerful and flexible than competing "WDTV" style boxes, for the same or a much lower price!

    Ouya should take a page from Valve! They seems to be doing the right thing with regards to SteamOS / Steam Machines, by basing it on a fully open and compliant Linux distro, thereby making it easy for anyone who wanted to add any other repo or download any other Linux program. Ouya should react the same with with regards to Android. Make a great experience for their game/app repository, but bring in the entire Android community through compatibility. The current and future Ouya hardware could come to be known as the premiere device in its price range, in a sea of Android gumsticks and other devices, but only if they fully embrace the inclusiveness of the Android community, give users options, as well as a fantastic out of the box experience.

  • "Hacking was encouraged—users and developers were told they could root the console without voiding its warranty."

    Problem was that it came out early that this wasn't a particularly "hackable" console due to some design flaws.
    1) If you're doing platform-level hacking, Tegra3 is not a pleasant chipset to work with
    2) It had some issues as I understand it with fastboot mode (I don't recall the exact details, but it either was extremely difficult to enter or simply didn't exist) - as a result it was very

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