Today, gaming console and software company OUYA announced that they have closed a $15 million round led by Kleiner Perkins, and with participation from the Mayfield Fund, NVIDIA, Shasta Ventures and Occam Partners. This marks one of the largest institutional investments to go to a project that had its humble beginnings on Kickstarter.
OUYA is a company that launched back in 2012 on Kickstarter under the guiding hands of Julie Uhrman, a video game industry veteran who believes that gaming should be affordable and enjoyable for everyone. She and the team developed a $99 Android gaming console, which hooks into the TV and comes with automatic access to free-to-try games. It launched on the crowdfunding site to much fanfare, scoring $8.6 million in funding, which ends up being around 9x more than OUYA asked.
Along with the $15 million round, which brings OUYA’s total amount of funding to $23.5 million, the company will also be bringing KPCB General Partner Bing Gordon on to the board of directors. Gordon brings with him years of experience from Electronic Arts.
Here’s what he had to say about the funding:
OUYA’s open source platform creates a new world of opportunity for established and emerging independent game creators and gamers alike. There are some types of games that can only be experienced on a TV, and OUYA is squarely focused on bringing back the living room gaming experience. OUYA will allow game developers to unleash their most creative ideas and satisfy gamers craving a new kind of experience.
The OUYA hardware has proven its spot in the market with the successful Kickstarter project, followed by an institutional investment led by a firm such as KPCB. “The message is clear: people want OUYA,” said Uhrman.
But the same story rings true for software, as the company has seen over 12,000 developers sign up for the platform to build games and monetize them in any way they’d like. This is up from 8,000 developer signups in March.
And if that weren’t enough, OUYA has been picked up by major retailers like GameStop, Best Buy and Amazon, with availability originally intended to begin June 4. OUYA is pushing that back to June 25, however, announcing the delay today as a result of a desire to be able to meet initial demand.
Clearly, the affordable gaming console speaks to people. But is it enough to make OUYA profitable? In an interview with TechCrunch, Uhrman explained that OUYA essentially breaks even on the hardware from the $99 gaming console, and that all games will be free-to-try. Curious if that was sustainable, we asked Uhrman if free-to-try would always be the case with OUYA games.
“Free to try is a core tenet of OUYA,” said Uhrman. “We wanted a gaming experience for the television that’s inexpensive to get into. Developers monetize however they’d like to, which is why we have games with unlockable demos inside a fully paid version, or micro-transactions, and even a donation based game. I’m looking forward to the first episodic, subscription-based game,” she said.
According to Uhrman, the latest round from KPCB and friends will go toward further supporting game developers and development, bringing in exclusive and unique OUYA content, and meeting the demand seen from all parts of the world, including Japan, Brazil, Germany, Spain, and Italy.