Ouya: why it's great vs. why it sucks

Blogs Damien McFerran 13:12, 24 Jun 2013

Can Ouya really revolutionise the games industry, or is it doomed from the start? James Coote and Alex Stevens deliver their arguments

A short time ago, we posted a feature entitled “Ouya: Doomed from Day One?” which triggered quite a response from the gaming community. Many readers took issue with the negative tone of the piece, and insisted that the new Android-based console would carve out a profitable niche in the market.

To get a more balanced view on the debate, Alex Stevens - the very same Ouya skeptic who took part in the aforementioned feature - sat down with passionate Ouya advocate James Coote to drum out the arguments for and against.

James Coote: PC and mobile have already existed for some time as open and developer friendly platforms. While some games just play better with a controller versus touch screen or mouse and keyboard, what Ouya really adds is a path for developers into the lounge/sitting room environment. It's a social space, one shared by family and friends, and that lends itself to different types of games. 

Ouya allows developers to make motion control, or Wii U style second screen games, the sort of which don't usually end well sat in front of a PC or riding the train home with your smartphone / tablet.

However, it's with local multiplayer games that Ouya is really starting to come alive and find a home as a low cost antidote to hardcore gaming machines. Ouya, therefore, is an accompaniment to your PlayStation or Xbox, rather than a replacement. 

It's likely to remain there for a while too, since it'll take time to build the sort of library fit for a primary gaming device. In many ways, Ouya has been the victim of its own success, being hyped up as a giant killer when actually it's a slow burner. 

Alex Stevens: Your argument seems to ride on a lot of hypotheticals and positive thinking. It’s been mentioned several times (and not just by myself) that the Ouya loses any edge in price it may have once you factor in other human beings. For the local, social multiplayer experience you’re describing, consumers can purchase an Xbox 360 for less than the cost of an Ouya and a second controller, giving you access to cheap, quality AAA titles in addition to a thriving indie scene.

The Ouya is a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist, which is in part why its marketing has been so erratic. Originally it was billed as a device to take on the “Big Three” and shatter the bonds that have restricted gamers for years by corporate console overlords. Now it’s the cute little box you stick between the PS3 and the 360 when it became obvious that expectations had to be lowered dramatically. 

James Coote: Right now, the Xbox 360 is definitely a dampener on Ouya’s potential sales, and there will still be another year or so’s worth of AAA games coming out for it. However, after years of neglect, Microsoft have effectively ditched the developer community on XBLIG/XBLA.

Ouya doesn’t just provide a replacement/alternative for those games and their developers, but seeks to build and improve on what came before; by responding to developer concerns, improving developer tools and evolving the platform based on their needs (as well as those of the game players).

Ouya also aims to really tackle head on the problem of discoverability in digital distribution marketplaces (app stores). Connecting players with the games they will enjoy. Ouya are taking a fresh approach by measuring engagement, rather than number of downloads or gross revenues, and again, bringing a willingness to experiment and find out what works and what doesn’t.

Both those are huge problems for the games industry, and ones that major players have been reluctant or unwilling to try and solve. They also take time to come to fruition, and can be abstract, remote concerns for ordinary consumers. Ouya has recognised that in the meantime, they need to sell the system on the more immediate problems it solves: providing an all in one media centre device, emulation box and filling the gap in the market especially for local multiplayer gaming

Alex Stevens: It's difficult for me to read the above paragraphs and take them with any more salt than I would an Ouya press release. I think we have a fundamentally different view of the reality of the situation. Even taking some of these assertions at face value, none of what you've mentioned are system sellers.

Are there metrics for discovering good content better than sales numbers? Maybe - but tinkering with unproven ideas on the developer side won't sell units, and won't be an enticement to developers who know what they're doing to commit blood and treasure to create a quality exclusive product for the Ouya.

Abstract solutions to problems that may or may not exist aren't what consumers who are looking for a gaming console want, and serious developers worth a line of code know this.

James Coote: Many people will be initially disappointed as they quickly race through the content it has to offer. But every couple of months, they'll dust it off and come back, have a play through the fresh content, and stay just that little bit longer each time.

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Ouya is a buy for me because it can viably be a great alternative to Apple TV. Apple, and to a point Google really missed the boat on apps on their platforms. They both released the hardware, but never really got behind expanding the platforms. This seems to be what Ouya is aiming for, realizing the promise of what those platforms should have been. The TV efforts from Apple and Google are just neglected side projects out there for the sake of having a thumb in another pie. Ouya exists to focus solely on that niche, not to just be a half assed entry in that market.

XBMC Hub being available at launch is the killer app for me. I have it installed on my Apple TV, but the amount of hoops I have to jump through to do it, while also losing official support is ridiculous. Having a platform that is updated regularly while not having to jailbreak and reload everything every time there's a system update is definitely worth it.

I think that people are just tired of all the crap that they get from the big corporations and see OUYA as an escape from the over-bearing commercialism. We simply just want to play fun games.

"So you don’t really get the Ouya, and that’s the same for a lot of
people. As this debate illustrates, it’s quite hard for even Ouya’s most
ardent supporters to pin down that ‘something’ which elevates it beyond
being just a games console."

Er...what? He had the last word and that's the finisher he chose? "Yeah you just don't get it, but there's something that is magical about the Ouya. Its 'je ne sais quoi' as the French say, if you know what that means *smug face*"

James Cootes is certifiable. He's like the Candyman of Ouya, except you don't need to say his name three times, just mention Ouya and he'll show up to preach about its wonderful properties that you, of course, just don't grasp.

This thing is going to fail hard and it's going to be fun to watch. The facade is already starting to fall away for some of the less brain-damaged Kickstarter backers, but it's really going to come to apart once this junk hits retail and they realise that no one beyond the KS backers wants one.

if ouya doesn't treat me like a criminal for buying their games, i'll put up with average graphics

Everything about the OUYA: the hardware, the games, the support from the company, even the ability to deliver them, is half-assed. There are people who backed this thing LAST YEAR who will not get an OUYA until after the retail launch.

If you want fun games I think you picked the wrong system.

Anybody following Ouya knows James is the biggest shill for Ouya there is. I'm not sure who Alex is, but his attitude seems to be the exact opposite. It makes a good sensational article but it doesn't really help at painting a good picture of the situation for anybody. Both sides of the argument are almost identically delusional.

I don't think anyone can argue that the idea of something like Ouya is a bad one. The idea of an open platform connected to TV with a controller like a console is a great one. I believe the issue is with the reality of its execution.

I give the Ouya peeps props for actually delivering something to the marketplace but for being a console "for the people" they aren't engaging "the people" as much as I feel they should be. With all of the negative issues regarding the system, they remain silent. Like they're refusing to acknowledge any problems hoping that everyone will just forget. I don't have an Ouya, so this may be wrong, but the general consensus is that it's simply not a product ready for the marketplace yet.

I'm hoping the can sell systems and I hope the people that buy them aren't left disappointed, souring the reputation of it even further. If they can provide a marketplace that can support a community of developers (and players) then I think everyone wins.

The games need to come. And people will need to buy games. Which comes first? I guess we'll find out in the coming weeks! ;)

"Fun" is in the thumbs of the beholder. Not everyone wants to dedicate large swaths of their time to expensive AAA games that routinely disappoint.

I got my Ouya on time; it's very well made and there are some quality games, you don't know what you're talking about.

I'm actually having a lot of fun with my Ouya. What's wrong with fun?

if you follow Julie's and OUYA's Twitter, you'll see there are a LOT of users who don't have them yet despite backing them in the early stages of the KS. There's also the broken controllers, reports of systems dying. Lots of problems. Don't be dense.

Nice straw man

Yes, many backers haven't gotten their systems; that is true. Everything else you just stated, however, is fiction. Show me your reports about broken controllers and dying systems or quit trolling.

do a google search for ouya controller lag and stuck buttons. also nearly every review of the system mentions the subpar controllers. it seems YOU don't know what you're talking about.

the controller lag was fixed through software updates and the buttons only stick if you press them down super hard; there have been no reports about broken controllers or consoles. Why are you backpedaling on you claims? Because you're just making crap up? Go away you XBox fanboy.

such an angry young mad, what did the Ouya ever do to you?

Go check out the subreddit on OUYA. lots of reports of broken stuff. i haven't backpedaled on anything. i suspect you are illiterate. Also this isn't your site so don't tell me to go away. I'm also not sure what made you call me an Xbox fanboy. Where did I mention that system at all?

Sorry you bought a lousy $99 console.

I said show me your reports; got a link for all the stuff you're making up? Of course not. I'm sorry you're stuggling with puberty but you'll get through it buddy.

ok here: http://www.reddit.com/r/ouya

let's look at just a few of these articles.

import ban
bluetooth problems
backer who still hasn't received theirs
another one about german import ban


Giantbomb takes a look at it.

Do you mean to suggest that there's some sort of logical basis for subjective taste? Please, define "fun games" in a clear manner so game designers always hit the mark.

another good alternative to ouya is the Gbox midnight it is android based and you can play games and watch movies and shows it has xbmc installed on it go to www.gboxpower.com

Ok, 2 things...do you have one? How can you claim it's so horrible if you've never touched or judged for yourself? Second hand info is wonderful but how can you unabashedly beat the console like this with other people's opinions? That's like saying chocolate ice cream is disgusting but you've never even seen it, much less tasted it.

I don't have AIDS. I guess I should get it to know if it's really bad. When you read post after post of issues with it, shipping problems, controller problems, corporate spin speak from Julie, dancing around direct questions regarding it, and fake transparency, I can safely come to the conclusion that it's a joke.

And then you go somewhere else and read the exact opposite. All I'm saying is that you're beating up on something you have no personal experience with and if that's enough for you to make a decision....great. It might not be for other people so stop trying to tell them how wrong they are for liking something you didn't even see the point in trying.

Stop being an idiot. There's mountains of evidence to show this thing is dumb. I'm sorry that your crippling asperger's prevents you from realizing that.

Thanks for proving that you don't have a real opinion and that you should be ignored.

If Ouya had been outfitted with a better chipset like the S4 Pro then I might consider it but Tegra 3 was old hat even in late 2012. Such is the pace of the mobile world!

Ive had mine about a week, and really the only good thing about it is emulators.So the best thing about it is playing another systems games not very good start because those systems arent gonna make any more games. My experience have been bad so far games with any type of graphix like Chrono are terriblely laggy beyond ability to play, my menus the pictures on them have disappeared so hard find things, USB hardly ever recognized. Just hasnt been a pleasant experience really.

Three weeks after it hitted retail and it has completely sold out.. They have already made a great profit, and the games keep coming. 7 new games a day, and many of the games are quite fun.. I have already bought 4 games (got mine 4 days ago).

After just 3 weeks, the console has made a profit, so it is not a failure..

So please, tell me how the Ouya was going to fail hard..
-I know that the Ouya has not blown the competition away(Which i never thought they would), but i would still say that it has succeded, since they made a good profit, and since that i like my console

I have to correct you, the controller buttons dont stick anymore, that was fixed.! So really.. The controller is just fine :) I prefer an xbox 360 controller though, so i just hooked it up to the Ouya, works great..

But in 2012 none of the tegra 3's were clocked at running 1.7ghz.

Since Alex has never used an ouya. Then he doesn't realize that the ouya controller also has a touch pad so you can move the mouse pointer on the screen. The only other controller to offer a touch pad is the new ps4 controller that hasn't even been released yet. Not to mention that you can use existing controllers from other platforms like Xbox and playstation on the ouya.

Sadly irrelevant, Tegra 4 on paper is around 6 times more powerful than Tegra 3. http://gizmodo.com/5969342/nvi...
You'd have to overclock by several magnitudes to match the Tegra 4 power...that's if it is even achievable.

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