[dropcap size=big]T[/dropcap]he successfully funded Ouya game console on Kickstarter has been on the market for roughly two years. Its record breaking numbers on Kickstarter made it excite gamers and developers. The android-based console even saw retail releases at Best Buy and Walmart. Sadly, the sales outside of Kickstarter backers were abysmal and saying the Ouya was a flop would be putting it lightly. Earlier this year, Chinese Internet Company Alibaba invested $10 million into Julie Uhrman’s company. The move occurred months after China’s State Council lifted the ban on video game consoles in which China has been releasing low priced set-top boxes that run inexpensive or free-to-play games. The Ouya game console definitely fits this criteria and Alibaba hopes to bring the Ouya’s library of games to their set-top boxes called the Tmall Box. Alibaba has also invested money into other game companies and studios like Kabam.
So what exactly does this mean for the western audience? Well, it probably doesn’t mean anything. The Ouya has been momentarily resuscitated but will probably die out once again. This low barrier of entry console still has to compete with the indie friendly PS4 and more than recent friendly Wii U and Xbox One. Not only that but the new Steam Machines are going to take over a lot of the Ouya’s market.
The Alibaba/Ouya deal will change the way developers develop their games however. Western developers will want to target this new Eastern market but because it is so new, there isn’t a lot of market data since the Chinese market place just opened so developers will have to make some great guesses if they want to become successful. Indie devs have already learned that they have little to no success releasing games on the small console even if the quality of their game is near Game of the Year level (Towerfall).
With that being said, I hope this new deal helps the Ouya developers gain some sufficient funds to make another low cost but much more powerful system that can keep up with current gen specs. We have seen beautiful games come from phones like the Infinity Blade series and Monument Valley but they don’t compare to what we expect to see on our television. Not only that, but I hope that the next Ouya will be even easier to develop for. Even with game engines like Unity and Gamemaker, the Ouya limits you to how you code your games and the low-tech specs make it near impossible to make a console level experience.
A very farfetched development that could occur with this change could be the expansion of Kickstarter to Eastern markets, developers and entrepreneurs. Ouya is still one of the biggest success stories from Kickstarter and seeing it expand to other markets could create the want for expansion. Being able to view and fund the ideas of people from the entire world could change our global economy and how we perceive the markets outside of our own. This is a very optimistic viewpoint but it would be great to see what Asian developers would like to bring to the Western market and vice versa.