Ouya console will be "as big as iPhone"

Industry veteran Mark Friedler sees the console business being "unleashed and democratized"

A freight train plowed into the console games business on July 11th, forever changing the console games landscape, unleashing user democracy and elevating Kickstarter to the new kingmaker of the games business. Of course, I'm talking about Yves Behar's Ouya Android-powered game console which has raised over $4 million in the first 48 hours.

I was blown away by the conversation with Behar during the GamesBeat/MobileBeat conference in San Francisco where he said the game console will be rebooted.

I believe this announcement will go down in history as something as big as the launch of the iPhone five years ago. The amazing outpouring of 25,000 pre-orders of the console in 24 hours shows gamers want the TV experience to be democratized.

I spoke with Brian Fargo of InXile (who raised $900,000 for Wasteland 2 on Kickstarter in March) and he believes customers are frustrated with traditional game publishers and are demanding more creative products instead of the endless sequels released by the leaders. In 48 hours, the console business has been turned on its head by a sub $100 open console whose mission is to make games less expensive and free to play. It is the Apple 1984 commercial equivalent to the games business (see that commercial here) - their revolutionary sounding Kickstarter description is below.

"The immediate loser in this battle will be Nintendo that has failed to create a meaningful online business"

Mark Friedler

Let's open this sucker up! It's time we brought back innovation, experimentation, and creativity to the big screen. Let's make the games less expensive to make, and less expensive to buy. With all our technological advancements, shouldn't costs be going down? Gaming could be cheaper!

We're handing the reins over to the developer with only one condition: at least some gameplay has to be free. We borrowed the free-to-play model from games like League of Legends, Team Fortress 2, Triple Town, and many others. Developers can offer a free demo with a full-game upgrade, in-game items or powers, or ask you to subscribe.

The Ouya can be seen as a descendant of the Sega Dreamcast and much maligned Phantom console whose vision of a download only game console was debuted at E3 in 2004 - I was a member of the advisory board of the company whose vision was accurate to where the industry was going but failed to execute on delivering the product.

Ouya has taken advantage of the perfect storm of excellent design, a stable and free Android OS, a shift of developers from console to mobile and tablet development and the winning business model of freemium and free-to-play gaming.

The immediate loser in this battle will be Nintendo that has failed to create a meaningful online business. Sony and Microsoft will undoubtedly need to revise their strategies to meet an agile new platform competitor that will be fueled by a flood of content. The velocity of the app market with 650,000 apps available should show the supply of games that will quickly populate the new console.

Although mobile gaming has been successful, its success has been driven by the iPad and tablets that have taken the mobile experience to a whole new level. How will a great tablet game work on a 60-inch flatscreen? The combination of the speed and agility of the mobile market combined with the living room TV experience offers another major paradigm shift for the game business, an enormous new blue ocean opportunity for developers and what could be a dangerous blow to the console platform incumbents. Let's see where this takes the games industry - my bet is this will be very, very big.

Mark Friedler is a game industry veteran, former publisher of IndustryGamers, founder and CEO of GameDaily, Gigex and VCast. He runs a mobile, social and advertising games consultancy Worlds and Games LLC,  focused on strategic and monetization growth of several leading games businesses. You can reach him at

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Latest comments (23)

Michael Benfield Senior Designer, Codemasters Birmingham9 years ago
A couple of thoughts.. What are they planning on doing about the staggering levels of piracy on Android platforms? I can't see developers or publishers committing the large scale resources required to make modern AAA titles on a console that is billed as being rootable from day one.

Isn't the power of the machine lower than current generation consoles? Does it have a dedicated graphics card, because I couldn't see one on the spec sheet. Without that the graphics aren't going todeliver the required performance at the resolutions that modern TVs require when doing complex 3D.

By the time this is released I suspect PS3 and 360 will be hovering around the same price point and have the benefit of a massive back catalogue of games that can already be picked up cheaply.

There's always room for more competition, I'm not sure they have delivered a day one game changer though.
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Massimo Guarini Founding Director and CEO, Ovosonico9 years ago
Most importantly, what about the marketplace?
Are we expected to experience the very same problems the App Store has right now?
I hope to see some effective changes there, otherwise we'll end up with the usual dozen of massive casual hits and some other hundreds of thousand interesting yet unsuccessful (because unknown) titles.
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Mike Wells Writer 9 years ago
Me neither. The language used here is full of hype and a lot of 'game-changing' consoles have come and gone. Games on phones (and tablets to a lesser extent) work as a market largely because of the context in which the games are (mostly) played and the ubiquity of the devices. And the replacement rate of those devices is so high the tech out-evolves the more static, long-ownership platforms. Just because you are using a mobile OS doesn't magically create a working market for a new fixed device attached to a big screen in the home, and the likelihood of it stacking up well (in performance or content) against the other platforms is low.
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Ben Furneaux Principal Designer 9 years ago
Ouya looks like a really interesting project (can't wait to see the final product) but claiming it will be "as big as iPhone" is utterly ridiculous.

If Apple were to transform the Apple TV into an apps/games terminal (as they are widely expected to) I fail to see how Ouya wouldn't be rendered almost entirely irrelevant.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Ben Furneaux on 12th July 2012 5:17pm

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Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 9 years ago
This has all the hallmarks of a scam.

It uses the darling of the week to get known (crowd funding)
It preys on the desires of the press (new console)
The willingness to namedrop anything the listener will respond to
Silly testimonial style trailer

Let's look at what they got critically:

25.000 lousy preorders. Hands up, who will program for that install base?
$4 Million in funds, which is the daily marketing budget of the big boys they try to go up against.
Not enough money to produce enough units to produce what Apple sells in a day.

This project is nothing more than putting a marketing spin directed at gamer on the flashflood of Android devices that are being currently sold. All the Gooseberries, VIA Android PC, HDMI "Sticks", etc.

Just consider, if Microsoft took preorders for their next console today, they would have 2.5 MILLION preorder in 48h, not 25.000. They would have retail chains lining up to process them. They wouldn't necessarily have a better trailer, so kudos for that.

Some links on the topic of Android PCs:
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Adam Campbell Product Manager, Azoomee9 years ago

Because Apple TV, whilst potentially possessing a model that Xbox and Playstation aren't as successful at (iTunes), Ouya is an open platform which iOS is not.

Apple TV would be a potentially powerful competitor however. I find myself disappointed they haven't already turned Apple TV into a proper product with a controller.

For now, its their loss...

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Adam Campbell on 12th July 2012 5:23pm

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Mark Friedler MD, MFConsult9 years ago
Great feedback everyone. My points about Ouya being as big as IPhone are based upon a few macrotrends:
1) Android is in the very early stages of massive global smartphone growth
2) A few mobile games have crossed over to console (AngryBirds, etc) but within the confines of Playstation and XBox rules.
3) Apple/ITunes is a highly successful platform as its shortened the path from developers to the consumer, albiet with many rules that can be changed arbitrarily and at any time by Apple.
4) Developers want to find more outlets for their content, gamers want to find and engage with more high quality fun games.

Ouya isn't trying to create everything from the ground up like other failed platforms but instead creates another distribution outlet that rides the huge wave of app content and bringing it to the living room's big screen. If consumers find value and if an Ouya marketplace is transparent, fair and good at promoting quality games then this could be the huge home market that allows developers to "get on console" quickly without changing their winning app publishing business model to meet the incumbent console platform demands.

The new AppleTV should help validate this model and it would make sense this could be v2 of GoogleTV.
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Rick Cody PBnGames-Board Member 9 years ago
This is a great stepping stone. That's it imo.

Bluetooth connection from controller to iOS device, Wi-fi connection from iOS device to TV. Voila. You now have a central piece of hardware in your life which you upgrade every two years. It has inexpensive games and gives every developer an opportunity to make something for the TV.

Of course, nothing is stopping Google from beating Apple to the bank on this.
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Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 9 years ago
Comes with its own screen
Comes with its own controller (screen)
Comes with its own platform to sell digital goods
Comes with its own Internet connection.

Upgrade for an existing screen
Comes with a controller that is largely unsupported by touchscreen driven marketplace.
Requires Google Inc.
Needs Internet connection.

At the very least, a game would need joypad controls. Bad news for all the touchscreen games. bad news for all the Facebook games. Bad news for all the PC games (Minecraft!). Sure, you can map them, but it takes time, money and the experience will suffer.

Android already suffers from most apps being barely compatible to a variety of cellphones, let alone tablets. Hook up a TV and you basically start over at zero in terms of software library.
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Andrew Jakobs Lead Programmer 9 years ago
I don't see this getting successfull, Android is too slow (just check out the difference with android ported to C# by the mono/moonlight developers, it's 80% faster). Also the hardware is too 'old' for an actual console.. And why not just connect your Android device to your tv if you already own one and use bluetooth (with PS3 dualshock3).
The specified hardware isn't even up to PS3/xbox360 graphics so how will they compete..
The idea is great, but initiatives like this have been available in the past, and none succeeded..
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Robin Clarke Producer, AppyNation Ltd9 years ago
I would like (and to a modest degree, expect*) the Ouya to be a success, but please.

I've yet to hear a coherent argument as to why it will fare better *as a games platform* than:

1. Any single currently available Android smartphone or tablet model
2. Any of the dozens of "hackable" portable consoles (GP32 et al) of the last ten years
3. Raspberry Pi or other system on a chip devices

"All the inconvenience of a console with approximately the same power as the phone/tablet you already own" doesn't sound all that futureproof.

Forgive me if I'm sceptical of shining-eyed hyperbole about a box that doesn't exist yet from a guy who advised on the Phantom.

*This assumption is largely based on the machine interoperating with the current Android stores. If it has a separate closed store, well, good luck with that.
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Mark Friedler MD, MFConsult9 years ago
Picking winners is about execution. It appears your company is betting on many platforms and I'm sure not all of your efforts have been successful. In Silicon Valley failure is a right of passage and fast learning and iteration is the name of the game to tee up the next big hit. I have advised several companies - some have failed, some have had huge exits (last week it was Gaikai), some in the middle. Rovio had 51 misfires before AngryBirds.

The mobile, tablet and "10 foot" markets are still wide open in the app space and there will be a lot of innovation that will bring more products to more consumers. I'm putting my neck out not because I have a product to promote but rather because I believe the industry is changing quickly for the better and being driven by the app economy. This is a step in a flatter system that in theory will change the way developers and consumers interact.

You are welcome to stick your flag in the ground for everyone here and we can check back next year to keep each other honest ;-)
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Adam Parker Academic Coordinator, Qantm College9 years ago
A stepping stone... Not an end.
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Peter Stirling Software Engineer, Firelight Technologies9 years ago
This platform has massive potential for a number of reasons.

The low barrier to entry for getting something into the living room TV, a massive first.

Having a tactile control system, the touch screen interface is a huge limiting factor for mobile gaming. There are some cute games out there, but polished interfaces are in the minority. On screen buttons in any form are just a poor mans controller.

They will have to iterate the hardware rapidly. It wont be long before phones are an order of magnitude more powerful than Ouya. Anual release cycle with the latest chip would probably be required, it might rub users the wrong way at first, but it would allow them to be far more reactive than the slow moving 'big three'.
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The important question is if the typical smartphone gamer will shell out $100 for a console just to play similar games to what he already has. It's more money than they probably ever spent on apps.

Is the "app store experience" really such a big selling point for home devices? I fail to see why.
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Rick Lopez Illustrator, Graphic Designer 9 years ago
"The immediate loser in this battle will be Nintendo that has failed to create a meaningful online business"... "as big as iPhone"... "app store experience"

You know I like the idea of a 99$ console, here is hoping the big 3 can come out with reasonably priced consoles. 300$ is the most i would spend and i usually wait for a price drop. If Nintendos online offering isnt great they can always update it,much like live and PSN have been upgraded over the years.

If anything, Nintendo has been the most innovative video game company EVER... they are the ones who kickstarted, new controller interfaces and video game concepts. everybody else just copies them. And if Anything, Nintendo will adapt to future changes and gaming needs.

OUYA is a nice concept, but Im still reluctant to pay for it cause mobile games and social games arent my thing. I truely enjoy the AAA expirience the consoles from the big three offer. And Nintendo has one thing going for them... GREAT IP. id play Super Smash brothers, Starfox or Metroid over any android game anyday.
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James Prendergast Process Specialist 9 years ago
I just can't get excited about the Ouya in any shape or form: Not enough flexibility, not enough ROI for the consumer, not enough marketing power or mindshare in the general populace.

I know there have been other open-source consoles (notably GamePark's offerings) but I've never seen any sales numbers.... that alone means to me that they were not hugely popular. If they didn't break into the mass market then I can't see a non-portable limited device like the Ouya doing so.
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Nuttachai Tipprasert Programmer 9 years ago
@Felix I totally agreed. And I also think that being indies friendly system is not a selling point neither. I means, I can easily play my favourite indies games on my PC or current gen console. What's the point of having another console just for playing the games that already available on other systems.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Nuttachai Tipprasert on 13th July 2012 1:55pm

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Michael Vandendriessche Studying Computer Science, K.U. Leuven9 years ago
I have been looking forward to a new console entering the battle between the Big 3 but this isn't it. OUYA is an interesting experiment and that is all it is for now. I do look forward to see how they evolve.
$100 is not much for a gaming console but it is still a lot of money for something you don't really need.
Someone with a pc, a game console and a smartphone already has everything the OUYA offers.
Also, it doesn't require a $100 box to connect your pc to the big screen in the living room.

Besides the hype surrounding it, I don't see many things playing out in their advantage. Hype alone does not make a console good.

Lets hope for the best and good luck to everyone developing for OUYA.
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Craig Page El Presidente, Awesome Enterprises9 years ago
It has a Tegra 3 processor instead of a real graphics card, so I don't expect any games with big 3D worlds displayed in 1080p.

But who cares? That's what the next Xbox, Playstation, and PCs are for.

It will be really hard to resist this thing for just $100, assuming the shipping and currency exchange gouging isn't outrageous (I'm looking at you "$199" Google Nexus!!!).
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Andy Samson QA Supervisor, Digital Media Exchange9 years ago
"The Ouya can be seen as a descendant of the Sega Dreamcast"..."Hackers welcome."

I doubt this could even match the SEGA Dreamcast's historical launch. The only thing that's synonymous between the two is that the OUYA will meet a very early demise due to piracy. It doesn't have well established franchises as exclusives, it's a very new console that still has to prove itself and yet it will be plagued so early in its life by hacks. Who would want to be developing for it commercially if it isn't secure? It relies heavily on Android gaming which I think is more suited for something you take with you on the go than spend some time playing on your TV screen. I don't see lots of triple-A's coming from this thing, it will be a vast sea of mediocre titles which brings us back to an era where gaming is at a brink of over-saturation.

Once the Wii U becomes available this 4th Quarter, the OUYA hype will die down and become forgotten.
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Murray Lorden Game Designer & Developer, MUZBOZ9 years ago
I wouldn't be surprised if people just start making their own Ouya's. Just get Android running on a PC, and set it up in your lounge. I think the platform will work if the community of developers and players forms around the concept, and I think there's hope for that.

You'll probably be able to get third party "Ouyas" and controllers, if the platform has any legs, because someone else will just reverse engineer it and sell them for $50 or something.

And if that happens, the important part of "Ouya" will simply be the marketplace (where Ouya will still be making 30% through games sold on their marketplace).

It's basically just Google Play, running on any Android device, connected to your TV with a proper controller.

I think Ouya may take off, if the console and controller stays around $100, and is really easy to turn on, use, buy stuff, etc.

To those people arguing that it's no different from your Android phone you already have... come on! Do you see any of your friends plugging in their mobile phones into the TV and playing games? I don't.

It's a pain. You need the right sort of TV, you need the right cable, you might get a phone call when you're doing it, it's all just something you put in the "too hard" basket. And then, why would you do that anyway, none of the games are designed to be played that way, so it would just feel a bit wrong anyway.

Whereas the Ouya would be designed FOR that environment. Play with controllers on the big screen. Turn it on, ready to go. No funny cables attached to your phone, yada yada.

I think Ouya is exciting, and I'm glad they're doing it. It'll be interesting to see where it goes.

The biggest threat may be if someone else releases an Android console first, or a better model afterwards! :)

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Murray Lorden on 16th July 2012 5:34pm

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Murray Lorden Game Designer & Developer, MUZBOZ9 years ago
Oh, and the other MASSIVE thing I think you need to remember is...

Look at Minecraft. KIDS LOVE TO MAKE GAMES!

Recently, I've met kids who are 6 and 8 years old, getting into game development. Loving Minecraft, and starting to learn Java, Flash, anything they can to start making games.

A console like Ouya is the perfect console for parents to buy their kids. It's cheap, allows access to tons of free games/demos, and also lets the kids start building their own games on it, which is educational and leading to skills that could also form the core to their professional life.

Also, unlike most of the other platforms, OUYA would be really well suited to making multiplayer games, without having to do networking.

The EASIEST games to build are mutliplayer, because you don't need to make AI.

Look at SPACEWAR: by most it's considered the first computer game. And it had no AI. Just two players controlling their ships. That game is totally addictive and intense (I've only played a PC port from around 1984, not the original!).

So I think there's a lot of potential there for CONSOLES that you PLAY on by MAKING GAMES. That shouldn't be ignored. And you can't do that on an Xbox or a PS3. Games like "Little Big Planet" and "Minecraft" very much play on that desire to create and share your own levels. But Ouya could take that to a whole new level.
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