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Ouya's top priority: Finding a killer app Exclusive
Ouya's top priority: Finding a killer app
October 17, 2012 | By Eric Caoili

When Ouya's Kickstarter campaign to build an Android-based game console ended two months ago, the team had raised $8.6 million. That's nine times greater than its initial goal.

Most of that money is going toward manufacturing preordered consoles for next March's launch, and getting Ouya's SDK ready for developers to begin tinkering with. But there's another effort Ouya is putting its cash behind that hasn't received much attention: funding game development.

"Part of any success with a new platform is making sure that we have great content on it," Ouya CEO Julie Uhrman explains to Gamasutra. "We definitely want to put money into game development. We're having conversations with a number of developers about their best projects that will sort of showcase the potential of Ouya."

Despite all the hype Ouya has received for promising a product that will disrupt the home console market -- whether that's through the system's digital-only games, free-to-play approach, or hacker-friendly concept -- the group believes it needs to act like other home console makers in one regard, which is acting as a first-party publisher.

And for Ouya to keep the positive buzz going for its hardware after launching, the console will need its own Mario or Halo to entice gamers.

The company has already unveiled one first-party initiative, an Ouya-exclusive series of episodic content based on Human Element, the upcoming zombie game from Infinity Ward veteran Robert Bowling's new studio Robotoki.

Ouya is talking with a number of other developers to make similar deals. "We understand that great games take a long time to develop and build, and we want to make sure we're having conversations today so we can bring them to Ouya as close to launch as possible," says Uhrman.

She adds that Ouya is looking to fund games from every genre, including first-person shooters, platformers, sports titles, RPGs, and even family-targeted releases.

Even though it's backing projects, the team doesn't intend to get overly involved in the development process with its partners. "We defer to the creative genius of developers," Uhrman clarifies. "We'll let them do what they do best while we focus on our day jobs. ... The developers retain full control over their IP and make all decisions as it relates to their games, including how to price."

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Ron Dippold
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My killer app would be a system task that recognizes Another Zombie Game and shuts the console down.

Seriously though, yes, if you want everyone else beyond the 65K kickstarter funders to get yet another console cluttering up the place (what a hassle) you're going to need some compelling exclusive content. It's the only reason I buy those living room boat anchors any more.

Doug Poston
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On the plus side, as far as boat anchors go, the Ouya is lightweight. ;)

Johannes Thorsteinsson
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I currently only have a PS2 and a Wii connected to my TV but I am pretty sure they will join the original xbox and the sega mega drive in the garage once the OUYA comes out.

Eric Geer
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I don't think it will be cluttering up much... 5099-full.jpg?1344352266

Ron Dippold
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Fair enough, it's certainly petit (so more like a sabiki than an anchor).

Mostly though, it's not the physical size: it's the cables, the extra controller, the allocating a space on the AV receiver, the programming a slot on on the remote. A new device is just a pain in the ass.

The PC is such a nicer platform than any console, where things just work better out of the box (what a change that is, eh?), I don't have to go through your platform bullcrap and mandatory system updates to play a game, it's fast and hi res, and it's got such a better range of games. If I could I'd have nothing but the PC. Edit: Unless it's got the awful mess that's Games for Windows Live, but that's the result of trying to jam a console up the PC's backside.

So a new console has to have something super extra compelling. For MS, Sony, Nintendo, that's exclusive AAA titles. I've already got a Transformer Prime android tablet, what extra is an Ouya going to bring to the table? The controller isn't enough. So get some games.

Michael Pianta
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I'm glad that they recognize the importance of quality, exclusive content. In general I hope the Ouya succeeds, it's a neat idea and could be a good proving ground for beginning developers.

Alan Rimkeit
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To me personally I think that any killer app that they need on the Ouya is going to come from the Indie game scene a la Meat Boy. The only problem is with that idea is that any Indie dev is going to need to support as many systems/platforms as possible to make as much money as possible. Thus the "killer app" would not be an exclusive one.

Tom Baird
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"The only problem is with that idea is that any Indie dev is going to need to support as many systems/platforms as possible to make as much money as possible."

I'm not sure I understand why this would apply in any special way to indies as opposed to anyone else. Going the other way, a small indie studio has a much easier time breaking even, and so can afford a more focused target, rather than having to be available to everyone with any device just to break even.

The 'Killer App' of a platform gets massive amounts of free advertising and publicity from the hardware manufacturer, and it's a trade off of being 'another app' on 5 platforms to being 'the app' on 1. Especially for a small startup of developers with no-one focussed on marketing/advertising, you can have a lot to gain with a bigger, more well-known entity showing off your game on their new hardware.

It really depends on the platform's user numbers, the overlap in interest between the killer app candidate and the platform's own direction, and the overall quality and appeal of the app.

Ian Fisch
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Ouya would have to do the same thing that the other console manufacturers do: pay to make sure the killer app stays exclusive.

Doug Poston
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I'm not sure the Killer App if going to be a game (it doesn't have enough power to run a hardcore game, and social games are great on handheld devices).

Maybe an App that allows you to share YouTube videos with a circle of friends?

Daniel Martinez
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I'm just wondering... if Ouya will be open to developers, what safeguards will they have in place so that developers don't design games that could compromise the system?

Bruno Xavier
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Maybe they find a killer app, but with that limited hardware, I am sure it won't be a game.

Alan Rimkeit
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Meat Boy was a killer app for sure and the system specs to run it are super low. I think that the Ouya's killer app will come from a similar game if they are lucky.

Doug Poston
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Maybe not a 'hardcore' game (ala Call of Duty), but a game like Angry Birds could run on the Ouya and it has sold roughly half a billion copies).

Not that I think Angry Birds on a 42" HDTV would be the Killer App. Probably something more family/drunk friends friendly (like Mario Party).

Robert Ling
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My brain... is on FIRE!! The possibilities are endless.