Ever since Ouya began shipping developer consoles, I’ve noticed a reemergence of skepticism about the console on my Twitter feed. Without calling anyone out specifically, these persons don’t believe Ouya has what it takes to become successful. They see its Kickstarter success to be nothing more than that – a Kickstarter success. To them, the chances of Ouya being a commercial success is not likely to happen. The fact is that it’s far too early to determine whether or not Ouya will be a flop. Let me break down the most common arguments I’ve seen and offer my rebuttal.
Ouya’s Install Base is Too Small
Ouya had 63,416 backers on Kickstarter. Let’s assume that every backer paid at least $95 to get an Ouya. By that logic, Ouya doesn’t have anywhere near the amount of customers it needs to be a reputable console. But here’s the thing, Ouya hasn’t technically sold anything yet. It’s impossible for Ouya to have an install base at this time.
We have to stop looking at Kickstarter as a store. Kickstarter even went so far to address this directly in September. When someone put down $95 for Ouya’s campaign, they weren’t guaranteed anything. Their money was used to support an idea. It was used to help Ouya make their console a reality. That money went into a pool to convert prototypes, fund production (hardware and software) and ship developer kits. Ouya only decided to give backers who donated $95 or more a console in order to make donating more enticing. They didn’t have to do that at all. As it currently stands, Ouya has sold zero consoles.
Now, what about the install base? We have to keep in mind that no one knows where Ouya will be sold. It could very well end up on the shelves of every major retailer in the United States. All we know is that it’ll cost $99. It’s not fair to criticize Ouya’s install base when it’s not even available to the general public. After it has been out for several months, or maybe even a year, then we can start talking about the install base.
Ouya is Doomed to Piracy
Android has a piracy problem. Part of this problem is because it’s incredibly easy to sideload an APK on any Android device. Does that mean no one will pay for Ouya games? No, it doesn’t. Some people will steal games, but they’re the same people who have been doing it forever. Chances are if you’re not a pirate now, you’re not going to become one tomorrow. Ouya is certainly not going to create a whole new breed of Android software pirates. Google Play hasn’t become irrelevant due to piracy and the Amazon Appstore is doing just fine. Ouya supports an open and closed ecosystem. That’s not contradictory, they’re just options. They’re options that Ouya needs to be successful.
Ouya does have one issue that I’d like to see addressed in regards to its ecosystem. It needs to come up with a way so gamers won’t end up needing to buy the same game they’ve already paid for through Google Play. One of the best things about Android and iOS is all your purchases are tied to single account. As long as you use that account, you can re-download applications on many devices. I personally would not want to repurchase a game just so I can play it on Ouya. I don’t know how to get around this, but I hope Ouya does.
Other Avenues for Success
Ouya’s success doesn’t have to rely on gaming. At the end of the day, Ouya could end up being a highly customizable media box. It could be the next Roku. Ouya already has the support of non-gaming services such as TuneIn, XBMC and iHeartRadio. If Ouya can get the support of heavy hitters like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, HBO, Spotify and others, Roku could have some real competition. Gaming could become the icing on the cake. Gaming is something that Roku dabbled in, but was ultimately forgettable. Ouya’s already set up to dominate that space because it has roots in gaming.
The bottom line is Ouya’s success or failure is yet to be proven. Judging its future based on its Kickstarter numbers is unfair and unrealistic. Just give a chance alright?