Xbox co-founder says Ouya criticisms unfair

Ouya advisor Ed Fries says system can't be judged by old metrics, unsure what success in today's market would look like

The Ouya Kickstarter was met by gamers with much enthusiasm (about $8 million worth of it), but the Ouya itself has been met with substantially more derision. In a guest post on VentureBeat today, original Xbox team member and current Ouya advisor Ed Fries spoke up to defend the system, saying it's being judged using dated metrics that don't apply to a new system with a new business model.

"Among the criticisms is that 'only' one out of three Ouya owners have purchased at least one game," Fries noted. "While the folks at Ouya are incredibly proud of this early outcome, some have chosen to interpret this as a glass that's two-thirds empty."

Fries said it's impossible to tell if that characterization is appropriate yet because a shift in gaming toward open distribution models is upending the entire industry and what works (and how) in unpredictable ways.

"Just as there was no way to compare Minecraft with World of Warcraft three years ago, today it is nearly impossible to compare Ouya with the next-generation consoles set to debut this year," Fries said. "This is because the game has changed dramatically for the interactive entertainment industry - and so have the rules."

While Fries admitted he didn't know what success would look like in this drastically different industry, he stressed that Ouya is an open console with the ability "to evolve as needed." Just as the original Xbox was straddling the offline and online gaming eras, Fries suggested Ouya is arriving as gaming evolves to more open platforms with fewer gatekeepers and an expectation of free-to-try games.

Latest comments (4)

Robin Clarke Producer, AppyNation Ltd4 years ago
The problem with the Ouya (apart from shambling from one PR fiasco to the next) is that to justify its existence it needs to offer something that isn't available on other platforms, and yet its technical capabilities fall entirely within those of existing platforms.

Throwing money at developers to force exclusivity is tedious for the consumer. I want to play TowerFall on the PC, not fork out for a load of proprietary kit.
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Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development4 years ago
I guess I should really bow to his wisdom on this one, but a console where only one in three owners has bought a game sounds like a bloody failure to me, regardless of what other rules might be changing. And when you consider the price of those games it's laughable.
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David Serrano Freelancer 4 years ago
In retrospect, it seems like Ouya's strategy was confused from the start. It was conceived as a TV console... but did they ever clearly define the target audience? Was it developed for mobile and tablet players who wanted to play mobile and tablet type games on their TV's? If so, did they ever establish there was an actual demand for this?

Or was the Ouya developed for 360, PS 3, and Wii owners who's needs were not being served by Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo or the core development community? The vomit ad seemed to indicate this was the case. But if so, then a far more diverse library of games specifically designed for players who are not 13 to 25 year old male hardcore action / shooter / sports game / multiplayer fans should have been the key selling point. Not the low end hardware, the "free test drive" model or "that $60 games are derivative and suck so you should buy our console instead."

So while I'd like to see the Ouya succeed, I honestly couldn't tell you if I'm in or out of their target audience.
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Edward Buffery Head of LQA (UK), Testronic4 years ago
What it offers is a much cheaper hardware price, up to 4 player multiplayer, and a more convenient TV setup compared to existing mobile devices. Aside from my PC gaming habit (mostly indie and F2P games), I'm also interested in playing mobile scale games at app prices with a controller in my hands. I don't own an iOS or Android phone or tablet, and the only reason which has ever made me consider it has been for the games.

Unfortunately for OUYA, I am in a minority, since most of my gaming friends are either interested primarily in AAA titles, and / or are gadget geeks and addicted to owning the latest and greatest phones.
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