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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 @10:23AM (#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. :(

  • by i kan reed (749298) on Monday March 03, 2014 @10:36AM (#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.

  • by hattig (47930) on Monday March 03, 2014 @10:38AM (#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).

  • by aardvarkjoe (156801) on Monday March 03, 2014 @11:14AM (#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 RanceJustice (2028040) on Monday March 03, 2014 @04:48PM (#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.

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