Why We Aren’t Developing For OUYA

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commander2Editor’s note: Tolga Ozuygur is the co-founder of Overdose Caffeine, an indie game-development company from Turkey that develops cross-platform, real-time multiplayer games. Follow him on Twitter @tolgaozuygur.

We at Overdose Caffeine had previously announced that Pocket Fleet, a real-time multiplayer space dogfight game developed for mobile devices, would be available soon on OUYA. Our players were looking forward to it. Even we were excited about the prospect of bringing the game to the platform, as we loved the device and thought TV was a great medium for fast-paced multiplayer gaming.

However, we have decided to end development for it and switch to GamePop. I know many people were looking forward to playing the game on OUYA, so I thought I’d explain why we made this decision.

Pocket Fleet Is A Cross-Platform Game

Pocket Fleet works on Android, iOS and any computer with a browser. We are also about to release the game on Samsung with the 100 percent revenue share indie deal we struck with them. Gamers can also play the game on their PCs and keep playing on their mobile devices, battling players from any other platform. The game runs the same way on every platform, which is why we wanted to add support for a TV console to expand our PC-Mobile combo, and were going to do it with OUYA.

But We Are a Small Indie Development Team With Limited Bandwidth

We don’t have a separate “design group” to rework menus. We focus all of our energy on building the best possible game mechanics and providing  new fancy features to our fans. This has paid off so far, as Pocket Fleet has exceeded our wildest expectations, having reached downloads in the seven figures in just a few months and a feature in Google Play. We don’t have time to mess around. If we had a larger team, things might have been different.

PocketFleetDeveloping For OUYA Became A Lot More Work

While it might seem we would only need to map the controls in Pocket Fleet to the OUYA controller (a job of only a few days), it turned out to be much more than that. The biggest surprise was what they required in terms of new menu design. We assumed the user could move a cursor around to select things on our main menu, but this was not the case. The company required that we redesign the main screen so that people could move around it by highlighting different buttons. This may sound simple but certain circumstances meant that it was anything but. Their ODK was also pretty shoddily thrown together and updates didn’t note what had changed. It began to get very onerous very fast.

GamePop Had a Much Simpler Proposition

We still loved the idea of bringing Pocket Fleet to TV. Recently, we were contacted by someone from BlueStack, which was about to launch their GamePop subscription service and console. They asked for no menu changes or controller mappings, there’s no SDK, no nothing. Seriously, it was about the easiest onboarding we’ve ever had to a platform, since they basically use our stock APK.

We Wish It Weren’t This Way

We were (and still are) fans of Ouya and have been rooting for them since the start. We wish them the best. For independent developers however, we just can’t do so much work for such an uncertain benefit. We’re taking the Occam’s Razor approach and going with GamePop for now. Pocket Fleet looks awesome on its prototype and we can’t wait to release the finished product.