By: Stephen Crane
OUYA: The conceptual Android based, hackable video game system is taking Kickstarter by storm. The project has 27 days to go still, but as of writing this article it has raised $4.2 million of its original $950,000 goal. More than 33,000 backers have voiced their opinions, through their pledges, that this is a console worth caring about.
Unfortunately, a little digging also provides a few reasons to be skeptical about this system. The Penny-Arcade Report, Gamasutra, Pocket Gamer, and more provide credible reasons to be skeptical of the game, while Engadget, PCWorld, and PC Magazine paint a rather different picture. How will it turn out? Only time will tell, but we'll most likely have a good idea next year what the system's outlook will be.
If the system succeeds, it could have large ramifications for the indie gaming community as well as gamers at large: The system and the games will most likely be cheap enough that we can afford to play games and not have to focus so much about buying used or during good Steam sales.
If the system fails, however, there's a good chance it might pop the Kickstarter bubble started by Tim Schafer and Double Fine. Already, developers are reporting "Kickstarter Fatigue," and really all it might take is one incredibly large project to fail before users begin being a little more frugal with their monetary pledges.
This project may very well cross the $6 million dollar mark before the Kickstarter project finishes, and from there it's off to development. Unfortunately, $6 million, or even the current $4.2 million is a lot of money to hold on to, and carries with it a lot of expectations. The developers will have to deal with those expectations if the product doesn't ship, or isn't up to the quality the backers want it to be.
And that's really at the heart of the problem: The developers are under no real obligation to make a quality system. So little is known about the final design that it's hard to definitively say what we think of it as a cohesive unit, only what we think of it as a concept. If a huge project like this fails to meet expecations, it's not hard to imagine a chilling effect running through many Kickstarter projects, if only in the gaming community.
On the flip side, at least a few indie developers have expressed interest in the OUYA and have stated intent to design specifically for the console in the future. So while Minecraft or Saturday Morning RPG add to a strong potential lineup of games for the console, the question remains: will it be enough?
The bottom line is this: The OUYA is projected for March of next year. Realistically, I can't see it releasing earlier than October of next year. The console is also still in its conceptual stage, so there's also the chance it will look and play completely different than we're anticipating. Either way, what happens in the next year or two with the OUYA will have an impact on the industry one way or another.