Our weekly dose of hot takes, occasionally well formed opinions, and fevered outbursts is back. Yup, it’s time for the Question of the Week! This week we’re talking about the unusual, and fairly murky, OTON X Kickstarter campaign. As you know by now, the OTON X is a video game console with a somewhat storied history that failed to garner much attention during its recent Kickstarter campaign. In researching what exactly the OTON X is about we came away with some serious questions regarding the legitimacy of the console; which leads us to ask…
Is the OTON X console a scam?
If it’s not a scam, it’s not very well-thought-out. They weren’t asking for nearly enough money to mass-produce a product. It’s possible Derrick Samuels is just … misguided, though. The Ouya was a legitimate project in the end, even though it made some very ambitious promises that many were skeptical they’d be able to keep. Perhaps something similar would have happened here, with a half-baked console shipping to homes. Or maybe none at all, except for one random dude on YouTube posting an unboxing video to show us it’s totally legit. Or a random Italian dude claiming to have a release day event planned for his store only to disappear without a trace a few months later.
…Yeah, I’m glad this thing didn’t get funded.
OTON X is scam in the sense that it’s not a real thing that will be made and it’s claims are deceptively dubious at best. I’m just not sure if the guy behind it realizes he’s pitching a scam. Based on the Kickstarter it’s entirely possible that Derrick Samuels fully buys into what he is hyping and doesn’t realize how bizarrely implausible his goal is. I call this the Peter Molyneux effect. If someone has a neat idea, but nobody bothers to reign them back into the realm of what is actually possible they tend to go off the rails. So, entirely possible that Samuels has only the best of intentions, but this is not a project anyone should expect to see completed.
Some part of me wishes it was, but I don’t think it’s a scam. More just a fundamental misunderstanding of how crowdfunding works.It’s an “I want to make…” pitch rather than “I’m making…”. What does make it unique is the sheer scale of its ambition.
More than anything though, I find the whole concept pretty dumb, even if it did really happen. I don’t play games to beat an infinite amount of levels some robot made. Even if everything it promises came true, it couldn’t possibly hope to be the only console you’ll ever need. What about an engaging story, a purpose for being there, and a unique world that isn’t made out of recycled assets? Automation can make for some fun levels, but it will never replace real game development.
I don’t think the OTON X is a scam in a traditional sense. The folks behind this aren’t going in, twirling their mustaches and cackling like villains. It appears to me that the main figure with dreams of OTON X coming to market just has no idea what they’re really promising. They’re operating off of “isn’t this a cool idea?!” rather than “here is how we’ll make this work.” Maybe it is a cool idea, but taking a hard look at the entire concept reveals tons of holes. Beyond that, it just seems incredibly challenging to procedurally generate a game with the system that would actually be fun to play, let alone playable. The OTON X really should be scrapped. However, given that they’ve been devising this system for years, they’ll probably keep trying to fund it in the future.
Without a doubt, there’s something really fishy about OTON X. Machine-made games? A learning AI? I seriously doubt that such a small company can pull that off in the form of a games console. Even then, the very concept of a console creating interactive things for you is more than absurd. Games made by a machine would be nothing more than awfully generic, automated monstrosities stripped of any kind of design direction. The thought of it makes me shiver in terror.
As far as the Kickstarter goes, I can’t really be sure if it’s a scam or not. Now that funding has ended and the project flopped tremendously, I think OTON X will sink into obscurity and never come out. Well, I hope that’ll be the case, because I refuse to think about all the Mario clones that could spawn out of this monstrosity.
I think David’s homework speaks for itself. The suspicious videos, lack of a generally released product, and history of murky “releases” makes it pretty clear that these guys are snake oil salesmen. The bit about generating additional content without assistance from the game developers, and automatically at that, are like sprinkles on a cake of lies. Cliqist isn’t the only one talking about how odd this whole thing has sounded since 2012, and the Wiki entry for Derek’s last project also includes the oddly suspicious (and poor) sources that are clearly biased. I rarely say this about unreleased products, but without a doubt, rich or poor, you should avoid putting money into this. It’s clearly a scam.
Yes, I would say the the Kickstarter campaign for the OTON X is almost certainly bogus. In addition to the research already carried out in David’s article, the $7,500 pledged so far is from only 34 backers with several of them pledging suspiciously high amounts. On top of that, the profiles of those who have posted comments in the community section all seem to be brand new accounts created for the sole purpose of backing this project (in my humble opinion).
While it clearly isn’t legitimate, I’m not sure it’s an outright scam looking to fleece people out of money. It almost seems like it’s just a stunt to raise the profile of Derrick Samuels and his mythical product. I doubt he’d actually want the Kickstarter to succeed, then there’d be some actual pressure on him to produce something. In fact, at the time of writing he was already claiming the Kickstarter was over, despite the fact there were two days left and it was yet to be officially canceled.
What do you think? Ever backed a campaign that didn’t deliver? What did you expect out of the developer? Chime in below and let us know!