Ed Fries: Platform holders must follow Ouya's lead

Easy certification, updates and free-to-play support a must says Xbox co-creator

Ed Fries, who has been contracted as an advisor to the group producing the open-source Android console the Ouya, has said that he expects Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony to emulate some of the aspects of the Ouya - namely a streamlined certification process, relaxed licencing regulations and full support of free-to-play mechanics.

Speaking to GameInformer, Fries spoke about the changes in market forces which have come about since the launch of the first Xbox, which he played a major part in creating.

"It's getting harder and harder for the traditional consoles to ignore the Apple kind of experience," said Fries. "Anybody can develop for the platform, certification is a relatively cheap and painless thing, and in the old days of consoles there are all sorts of myths and legends that say that's a bad thing to do. That's why the game business melted down in '84, there was too much junk on the market, but now you've got guys who make games like Fez who can't do an update to their game because it costs too much, if that game was on iOS that wouldn't be a problem, but because it's on XBLA it's a problem.

"Those kinds of ideas have to go away in the next generation. They'll go away in Ouya, they'll go away if Apple brings some kind of product into this space, the console makers like Sony, Nintendo, Microsoft, they have to respond to that, it's just the future. Likewise they have to respond to the free-to-play game model, the world is changing, people want this free-to-play experience, game developers want to build free-to-play experiences and the console ecosystem has to adapt to that. It can't just be $50 product in a box all the time."

Ouya has been funded by a hugely successful Kickstarter program which initially aimed at raising under $1 million but closed with a bankroll of more than $8 million. The console itself will cost $99 and features development tools as standard, enabling any user to create their own free-to-play games. The only restriction being that any game launched for the machine must be free-to-play.

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Latest comments (7)

Craig Page El Presidente, Awesome Enterprises5 years ago
Wasn't Ouya's "free-to-play" requirement just that the game include a free trial mode?
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Sergio Rosa "Somewhat-Creative Director", Domaginarium5 years ago
There are many reasons why I'm still considering not to make games for the OUYA, one of them being the question about the availability of quality control, or if it will it be more like "if it runs, we'll publish it" which completely negates the need of an actual "store" (the flood of crappy games on Android made me never browse through the store ever, and simply get the games people recommend).
Another one: "The only restriction being that any game launched for the machine must be free-to-play."
Does offering a demo and the ability to actually purchase the full version count as a "free to play" game? Because that's the only kind of game I'm willing to make, and not because I'm greedy, but because I am mostly interested on single-player games where you don't use micro-transactions to unlock a puzzle or defeat a boss, and also adding google ads on top of my games is out of the question.

I think I'll just wait for like 6 months or so after it finally launches so all the "OMFG dust" has settled (also enough time for them to actually test their business model and prove it works for all devs).
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Sean Kauppinen Founder & CEO, IDEA5 years ago
OUYA hasn't created or shipped anything yet, so talking about following their "lead" is a bit premature. I hope the platform is successful, however without a retail distribution strategy, I can't see it being successful enough for most developers to support the platform. Only time will tell, but the micro console from OnLive is a good example of console distribution without retail support. I would love to know their install base.
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Show all comments (7)
Adrian Herber5 years ago
Sergio: Yes, Ouya's free-to-play model does include 'demo plus unlock fee for full game'. I think it's a shame they keep on just calling it 'free-to-play', as this demo/unlock style is one of the best options out there, for both developers and consumers.

It means good games can prove themselves in the demo then charge a higher price for the known quantity, while shovelware games will wither and die as no unlock price is low enough to get many sales from players who have already experienced the game.

Windows 8 App Store also supports this model (or something like it). I really hope to see Apple streamline and further support this type of model too, since at the moment their App Store is a mess of in-app purchases and separate downloads for free/demo versions and paid versions.
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Adam Campbell Game Production Manager, Azoomee5 years ago
Whether or not the console is out, there are still aspects of the vision that in my opinion should be adopted by console manufacturers.

Some of the inspiration stems from what the likes of iTunes and Google Play offers and I think many people would agree aspects of those services could be very beneficial for developers and consumers, when it comes to getting more games from more developers onto the market, with less restrictive licensing and lower reliance on boxed products or traditional publishers.

Encouraging every studio to release a free to play version or at least a demo would be great too but I'm not sure that forcing them to do so is a good thing.

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Dave Herod Senior Programmer, Codemasters5 years ago
Wasn't Ouya's "free-to-play" requirement just that the game include a free trial mode?
In other words, this is no different whatsoever from the requirements for an XBLA game from the start.
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Jason Pullara Podcaster 5 years ago
Everyone must follow an unproven business model. Yes, yes, this is genius.
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