Sega embracing "disruptive" Ouya with Sonic

Three Sonic titles kick off Sega's partnership with Ouya

By Mike Williams.Published Wednesday 5th June 2013, 2:43pm GMT

With the Ouya's upcoming launch on June 25, Sega has told GamesIndustry International that it's bringing one of its biggest brands, Sonic the Hedgehog, to the new console. The publisher will be launching three titles on June 27: Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode I, Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode II, and Sonic CD. All three games are optimized for the Ouya's Tegra 3 processor and free-to-try business model. The first levels of Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode I and Sonic CD are available to try, while Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode II will offer the first two levels.

GamesIndustry International spoke to Ouya founder and chief executive officer Julie Uhrman and Sega of America director of mobile business David Zemke about the partnership. Both parties were excited about Sonic making his appearance on the Ouya.

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"Sega is an example of the types of developers that are coming to Ouya. We've always said that because Ouya is open, we lower the barriers for any type of developer, whether it's AAA or a newcomer. We're going to see all types of developers and games on Ouya. We're excited to have Sega as a partner, they're a great publisher. Sonic is an iconic brand and we think it's just going to add to the fun of playing on Ouya," said Uhrman.

"For us, there were a couple of things that were exciting about Ouya. One is obviously that it's a great gaming platform on a new device. When you get the chance to hook it up to an HDTV and watch it on a big screen, it's actually quite impressive," added Zemke. "It's disruptive technology, right? It's fun to see what these technologies can do and be a part of it from the beginning. For those two reasons alone, we've looked at it as yet another reason to bring some great Sega content to a whole new audience."

Uhrman said she's not worried about the fact that Sega's titles are already available on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. She explained that the Ouya team is always looking for exclusive content, but classic titles players expect are great too.

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"Gamers like to play all different types of games. They like play games that they have a strong affiliation with on all different types of platforms. I'm not surprised that we're seeing titles come to Ouya that are on other platforms. I think gamers will love to play Sonic on the television through Ouya," said Uhrman. "Obviously, content exclusive to Ouya is incredibly exciting. We have a number of games where we have exclusive windows. Every conversation with a developer is different. We have over 16,000 developers that have signed up with an interest to develop and publish games on Ouya."

Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode I speeds its way to Ouya

According to Zemke, Sega's partnership with Ouya currently only extends to the three announced titles.

"At this time, that's what we have planned," he said. "We're always looking for other titles and there may be some future titles that we'd like to bring over. For us, we're always trying to bring the best gaming experience to the right platforms. It's a delicate mix of how and when to do it."

Though the Ouya is based on Android, it lacks support for the Google Play Store, meaning all games on the platform have to be curated by the Ouya team. According to Uhrman, part of the Ouya experience is a "focus on fun factor," instead of a huge, sprawling library of content.

"We wanted to play an active role in the curation and discovery of content," she explained. "We look at curation very differently than some other players in the market, because we really focus on the fun factor. We look at engagement metrics as the number one indicator of what makes a game fun to play. So, metrics like how often you've played a game in a certain period of time, how many times you told a friend to play it, or how many thumbs up this game has received; these are great indicators that that game is fun to play. We want to help gamers find those titles on our platform."

All three of Sega's Ouya titles will cost owners $6.99 to purchase, putting them above existing versions already on iOS or Android. Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode I only costs $3.99 on Google Play and $1.99 on the App Store, while Sonic CD sports a $2.99 price tag on both app markets.

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