Sega embracing "disruptive" Ouya with Sonic

Three Sonic titles kick off Sega's partnership with Ouya

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.

"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.

"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

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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Latest comments (11)

Richard Westmoreland Senior Game Designer, Codemasters Birmingham8 years ago
I can't see the Ouya being very disruptive if the pricing is this poor. I own an Ouya, but why would I pay more just to get the games on it when I can get them on my tablet or phone?
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gi biz ;, 8 years ago
From my understanding of English, this console is being branded as "playing against the rules". I'm sure Mike Williams doesn't mean anything bad, but I don't understand why it's disruptive. Actually I find the new Xbox way more against the rules. I also find the Play Station 3 unruly, and maybe the Vita's got some disruptive elements in it as well. Is it me who understands it that way or this article's point of view makes oddities look normal and normal things look like exceptions?

@Richard: maybe it's interesting to people who don't own an Android/iOS device or don't use it to play games. Personally I'm not sure I'd be interested, I'd like to have a look first.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by gi biz on 5th June 2013 5:45pm

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James Brightman Editor, North America, GamesIndustry.biz8 years ago
@ Michele, Mike isn't saying it's disruptive. That's Sega's quote. Mike is simply reporting on an interview and news from Ouya.
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Show all comments (11)
gi biz ;, 8 years ago
@James: ok, but that doesn't change my understanding of it. I'm not saying the article is wrong or bad in any way, just that it seems to see reality... upside down. Whoever said that. I'm not saying Mike is bad, or Sonic or whatever, I'm just wondering if I'm the only one to find it comes from a peculiar perspective.
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David Serrano Freelancer 8 years ago
@Richard Westmoreland

So you could play them on your TV instead of your tablet or smartphone?
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David Serrano Freelancer 8 years ago
@Michele Santullo

The Ouya could be viewed as a form of low end disruptive technology. But if it actually delivers on the promise of removing the middlemen and barriers between designers, developers and consumers, it could result in a game library which could compete for market share with Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo. So the Ouya's business model may turn out to be the disruptive innovation. Only time will tell.
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Adam Campbell Product Manager, Azoomee8 years ago
I don't see the confusion, the premise behind Ouya IS disruptive, whether or not it truly disrupts the market is yet to be seen. But consoles have never been traditionally open at all, where Ouya is to an extent you can open the physical package, root the OS or side-load games without voiding your agreement with the company. The free to try model is also something different and disruptive as a requirement.

I'm not too surprised by the announcement of these three games, given that they're developed specifically for the Android/Tegra platform. Releasing on OUYA would have been virtually 'free' and incredibly easy to do technically. It would make sense for Ouya to work on getting more of these "Tegra Zone" games to the platform as well.
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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.8 years ago
So an Android based console is getting 3 already developed Android based games?

Ouya, you need some exclusives that are not already available on dozens of other devices to show your value.
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Adam Campbell Product Manager, Azoomee8 years ago
Ouya, you need some exclusives that are not already available on dozens of other devices to show your value.
I hope we get some announcements surrounding this and soon. Julie Uhrman mentioned possible in-house efforts but so far that's a bit of a mystery...
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Andrew Wilson 3D Artist 8 years ago
As someone with a Tegra 3 powered Nexus 7 I'm not thrilled about the prospect of having to buy my games again to play them on another identically chipped Android based device. I hadn't realised that they were going in that direction and it makes Ouya a lot less attractive.
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Shane Sweeney Academic 8 years ago
The "Great Prophecy" as most people tend to view the technology road map is that the lounge room will forever be dominated by large companies, presumably in the form of an Apple integrated iTV + AppStore or a Samsung Integrated TVs or a PC set top box running Xbox software or Steam software. That's the future as far as the set in stone "great prophecy" dogma foretells.

The body count of any company daring to enter the lounge room is very high. I recall in 1999 when Sega claimed loudly and proudly they are fully behind the Dreamcast and were dedicating over 100 million dollars just on marketing alone for the console. After there failure, it really scared almost all players from even entering the Console space. In a space that used to have 10 large players, consolidated to 7, then consolidated to 5 then consolidated to 3 and down it went. To the point now that both Sony and Microsoft are essentially running there entire console divisions at a loss just to win the prize. Only the biggest most mega companies could survive.

The Ouya is considered disruptive because it potentially could be a successful example of a crack in this established prophecy. That potentially the lounge room may indeed be controlled again by a wide variety of players and not just mega companies. Maybe the Ouya will be successful or maybe it won't, but maybe the *idea* of the Ouya is enough to encourage other players to work on there own lounge room convergence device.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Shane Sweeney on 7th June 2013 4:29am

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