Remember that $99 hackable, open game console called Ouya? Well, to supplement their own investment, the founders of the startup opted to turn to crowd-funding site Kickstarter to gather their first round of funding. The initial goal was $950,000, with a pledge of $99 or more netting you a preorder of the console. The appeal was set for 30 days, which ended up being 29 days more than necessary, as the goal was reached within 8 hours, and at the end of the first day over $2 million were pledged in the hopes of making the console a reality.
The idea of playing iOS-like titles on my TV, which, with the open marketplace structure and technical specifications of the device, seems to be the forte of this console, did not particularly appeal to me. Indeed, the Kickstarter video below features the developer of Canabalt and his game. I cannot fathom sitting down to play an endless runner like Canabalt on my HDTV, or any other of the shallow experiences featured on Apple’s App Store for that matter. Nevertheless, it would seem the masses are interested in such an experience, if their eagerness to fund the project is any indication. Perhaps the hope of AAA, though not graphically intense, titles produced by traditional and indie developers is enough to push people to get on board.
Further, the fact that all games on the console will be free to play, as previously reported, is clarified in the Kickstarter description:
We’re handing the reins over to the developer with only one condition: at least some gameplay has to be free. We borrowed the free-to-play model from games like League of Legends, Team Fortress 2, Triple Town, and many others. Developers can offer a free demo with a full-game upgrade, in-game items or powers, or ask you to subscribe.
That should assuage the fear that all games will employ some sort of freemium model, as Ouya is constantly touting that “all games will be free to play.” AAA developers can provide a demo, much like is done via Xbox Live and PSN, and still invest the required resources while using the traditional purchasing model, without being forced to monetize their product in a way that many gamers, such as myself, detest. Although if the App Store is any indication, I would think that many developers, especially smaller and indie ones, will turn to the freemium model regardless.
Julie Uhrman mentions in the Kickstarter video that “when we raise this money, it means that we have arrived, that there is a need for an open game console, and that there is support from gamers and developers alike. You’re the signal to the world that this is wanted.”
With over $2 million in funding in less than a day, I’d say that signal is coming through loud and clear.