With less than two months before OUYA’s launch, it’s time to tell the truth — its future doesn’t look promising. The OUYA is starting to feel like a gaming console without the games. Publishers and developers aren’t promoting OUYA games because there’s nothing to promote — nothing that was specifically developed for the launch line-up. Even worse, Final Fantasy III will be the flagship launch title, a game that has been available on countless gaming systems for years. OUYA isn’t the gaming revolution that backers expected.
Earlier today, Darrell Etherington reported that the Android-based gaming console would launch in-store in June. The more than 68,000 backers to its Kickstarter campaign will get their consoles in March. While the company is still planning to ship on time, that was only half of the launch challenge.
Gamers buy a new gaming system based on two key elements: launch games and who is making the console. As the OUYA is not coming from an established company, the team is facing an even harder task — selling enough good games to make the console interesting.
You may say that the OUYA is an Android-based console and that many titles will be ported to a TV screen and OUYA’s gaming controller in minutes. Yet, there is no way you could compare an Android game with what gamers expect from a traditional gaming console. Even the Nintendo Wii U with its pretty weak launch line-up could count on ZombiU, Assassin’s Creed 3 or New Super Mario Bros. U. Angry Birds (or an equivalent game) and Final Fantasy III won’t convince an experienced gamer. You don’t need a dedicated device to play Canabalt.
Moreover, Best Buy or Target customers don’t care about Android. When they’ll walk into a store and see the Android logo, it won’t mean anything to them. Normal people, those who don’t usually back projects on Kickstarter, they buy a Samsung phone, not an Android phone made by Samsung. That’s why average consumers do not line up to buy Nexus phones. Without its Kickstarter video, the OUYA is uninteresting.
When it comes to games, even though OUYA claims to launch with 200 games, most of them are just Android ports or come from inexperienced developers. There is no big system-seller that may convince undecided gamers. And if you backed the console for its emulating capacity, you’ll be part of a very tiny minority.
Vevo, XBMC or TuneIn are nice additions, but are already available on most TV boxes or support equivalent apps. The Roku, the Apple TV or even the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3 have long been hooked up to everyone’s TV, ready to stream content. The OUYA will not sell en masse for these apps alone.
Before the end of the year, OUYAs will gather dust on store shelves, next to Boxee devices and other products that promised to revolutionize TV or gaming without actually achieving this status. The OUYA won’t be the first to disappoint, and there will certainly be other gaming consoles in the future that will end up in the attic in no time.