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OUYA: Here's a device that provides all the things you already have on almost any other phone, tablet, console, TV, computer, or any combination of the aforementioned - and makes an evolving test-bed of it. Well, except the biggest difference is that despite running Android, it follows the footsteps of it’s biggest competitor – Apple. With a game controller and lack of substance that appeals to anyone outside the potential for upward mobility, us lazy folk can now sit on a couch and play 10 to 12 feet away, what we already do on something 10 to 12 inches away. Clearly this is 10 to 12 times 'better' (literally)... or is it?
Seconded only by the term "free", nothing grabs attention of a tech savvy society than the idea of innovative "open" tech. That is the hope of the developers of the forthcoming system OUYA.
From their website:
We've packed this little box full of power. Developers will have access to OUYA's open design so they can produce their games for the living room, taking advantage of everything the TV has to offer. Best of all, OUYA's world-class console, controller and interface come in one beautiful, inexpensive package
Glossing over nothing defining the assertion as to what makes it "world class," and the fact it is a video game console attempting to "crack open" a television - OUYA isn't claiming anything that the big three don't already do or that TV's don't already attempt on their own. Most cable companies offer a few base level games, and if you have a TV newer than 2009 there;s a good chance you get Netflix, You Tube, Pandora, Slacker, AUEPO, Last FM, Hulu, etc., from a main menu. Even my Onkyo receiver has network apps built in. So, OUYA isn't presenting anything terribly new or asked for.
Like Saint in his recent write-up, I've kept up with the Kickstarter page (for longer than I'll openly admit) and feel the motivation behind massive $10,000 contributions (over $8 million) raises a few questions.
His focus question however, is pretty simple to answer if looking at history. He asks:
Is the number of OUYA contributors any indication gamers are frustrated with the big three?
Well, no. It's not an indicator of anything to be honest. Why, lies in the following question.
Who would contribute $10,000 and more importantly, why?
It's no secret there's an endless hunger for new and more games. Desura, Steam, XBL Arcade, PSN, etc., exist because small developers want entrance to the elite circles Whether the entrance comes from love of the culture or love of money is irrelevant when gained, in the end they’ve “made it.” Surly I cannot fault developer for their ambition. I used to DJ in nightclubs, leaving only because the culture was eroded by corporate presence – yet I did want to be part of the elite. I almost made it, but that was a lifetime ago and in hindsight, I’m glad to have left while the scene still had integrity.
Saint's assertion that some very well off contributors participated, is obvious, obviously. $10,000 contributions s a clear indicator that either very rich individuals, or perhaps with the explosive popularity of Kickstarter, other developers and interested parties see an opportunity to gain attention along different paths. Saddle up, the wagon train is leaving Silicon Valley.
From a corporate standpoint, $10,000 is pennies on the dollar compared to other investments or marketing. By tugging at the longstanding hopes of underground naysayers and elitists that must have obscure, bleeding edge tech alike, it is easy to play both sides of the field. It is an example of being Hyperdimentional yet unified, simultaneously. Not to be political, but that is the entire Obama campaign four years ago – and yet, among the shovel ready jobs “created,” no one asked why there weren’t any shovels.
It's 1/3 the median income of the average American today, or for a larger development firm like say.... 2K or any other medium to large developer that also wanted to branch into previously untapped markets (handheld, as is the dominant placement of Android, top competitor to Apple and the iOS) meaning the return would be enormous and easily manipulated. I'd venture to say that the price point of the option was for exactly that, medium to large developers looking to place themselves in the market.
Closing this point, as I look back over the past several years of E3 "coverage" a summary focus of the "reporting" media is how "exciting" the coming year will be (without context). Excitement is like power; if you have to tell someone it is there, it is not - it is inherent and self-evident. If users were fed up with the big three, they'd complain - and some do, but action always speaks louder than words
Several attempts have been made to dethrone the big three, unsuccessfully. We have to consider why the attempt was unsuccessful, and in that understand that the attempts weren't a divergence from the big three more than they were just attempts to implement emerging technological features ahead of the pack. Although mildly appealing, these attempts are typically executed poorly. Systems like OnLive, Phantom, and Gizmondo were ambitious (albeit more ambitious than OUYA), but despite the ambition and impressive features touted around, consumers continued to go with the safe bet; the big three.
Still, looking at it $8,500,000 is a lot of money. Too much when you also look at they only ask for $490,000. Right now, OUYA has $8.5M of gamers' money. Gamers have a promise - an ill defined one that have curation issues at that.
Of course, my tin foil hat might be too tight and it's just regular everyday, concerned gaming-citizens, putting up fat stacks of loot to say "need something new, stat"... nothing to see here and I'll just move on.