Kickstarter funded 'Ouya' a must have for indie gamers
Published: Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, September 10, 2013 22:09
Last June saw the public release of the Kickstarter – funded video game console the Ouya, “where every game is free to try,” according to ouya.tv. The main idea behind the Ouya was to create a console where any indie game developer could release their games as long as the game was completely free or offered some sort of free trial. The creators believed that players should know they love a game before purchase. The Ouya ended up being backed by 63,000 people for a total of $8.5 million, which is nine times the original $950,000 requested. This is a substantial audience considering it’s completely independent background, but the question now is how a console defined by free content is actually selling.
The Ouya itself costs $99, but after the initial cost every game has a free aspect to it. Some give an incomplete game; some give the whole game but only for a short time. Beyond the free trial, games cost anywhere between $1 - $15. Not many people actually buy games when there are so many free options at their disposal, though. Julie Uhrman, CEO of Ouya said that only 27 percent of those who own an Ouya, which is slightly over 58,000 people, have actually bought a game.
“Nimble Quest” for example, an RPG take on the classic “Snake” mechanic, was downloaded 6,508 times within the first month, but was only bought 122 times. “Nimble Quest” has only made a little over $400 since its release. “Organ Trail,” a zombie interpretation of “The Oregon Trail,” has been bought on the Ouya 501 times, but reached 13,112 free downloads in the first month. “Towerfall,” a competitive archery platformer, is probably the most popular game released for the Ouya having made upwards of 2,000 purchases at the high price of $15. Even with this high purchase rate for an Ouya game, “Towerfall” has only been bought by 3.4 percent of Ouya owners.
The Ouya has 407 games released on its system, and that doesn’t include its capacity for emulators to play old video game consoles like the Nintendo 64. It is difficult to argue in favor of buying a game when there are 407 of them that all have free options. The Ouya should not be considered a failure though, after all its entire purpose was to offer free content to a certain extent. Of course game developers would prefer to get paid for their creations, but the Ouya gives indie games a chance to be played; it gives them a home.
What makes the Ouya special is innovation. In an industry dominated by AAA titles and consoles worth hundreds of dollars, it is surprising the Ouya even made it past its Kickstarter page. Being one of the first consoles to base itself wholly on indie games while offering even a part of them for free should be considered nothing less than a success. The Ouya dares to be small among giants, but its originality has brought it much attention for the last two months.