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A little over a year ago, Ouya launched its widly-successful crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter, capturing the enthusiasm of thousands, with promises of an open platform, affordability and a simple game console experience for the living room.


Ouya has been available at retail for a few weeks, so we wanted to get a very early idea of how Ouya is fulfilling its promise of a video game revolution. We asked Ouya developers about their experiences with the console so far, including game sales and development support. Here's what they had to say.


Why did you decide to bring your game to Ouya?

Rami Ismail, Super Crate Box (Vlambeer)

It's an open development platform that is accessible to pretty much every developer. There's no way Vlambeer isn't going to support something like that.

Eric Froemling, BombSquad

I'd been porting BombSquad to Android/iOS with the idea that I'd release it once I got networked multiplayer added (which is still an ongoing process). I already had local multiplayer in the game, however, and because Ouya is so conducive to that type of play I decided to go ahead and jump on the opportunity to be an Ouya launch title.

Ryan Wiemeyer, Organ Trail (The Men Who Wear Many Hats)

We originally had no plans to bring our game to Ouya, but a friend of ours who was eager to try out the development side of the system asked us if his team could port it over for us. So we did. Otherwise... probably would not have, even though I backed the Kickstarter. I thought of it as buying a toy. I would have probably dicked around with porting, but I didn't want to dip back into our code to port the thing.

E McNeill, Bombball

I only made Bombball because Ouya sponsored a game jam. That gave me a much-needed deadline, plus a good excuse to finally make a spectator-oriented local multiplayer game. Then, I only developed the prototype into a full release because it got formally recognized in that game jam. Without the Ouya team's encouragement, I don't think Bombball ever would have happened.

Adam Spragg, Hidden in Plain Sight

My game was originally written for the Xbox Live Indie Game platform.  My game is local-multiplayer only, and when I saw Julie [Uhrman, Ouya CEO]'s original Kickstarter video, it really struck a chord with me.  I love couch-multiplayer gaming, and I loved the indie spirit of the Ouya.  So that sparked my interest.  It also was also free to sign up as a developer and release a game.  And then when Monogame released their update to support Ouya, all the pieces were in place to make it free and easy for me.  That's important.

Shay Pierce, Get on Top (Ouya port of Bennett Foddy's game)               

I realized that more human beings NEEDED to play Get On Top! Like all of Foddy's games, it's awesome... but it's a Flash game, which means 1) there's no easy way to play it with gamepads, and 2) there's no good way to sell the game. The Ouya solves both of these problems, and the system always seemed perfect for simple local-multiplayer games. This was also a great "test-run" for me, as I have another game that I plan to bring to the Ouya someday; porting and launching this one was great experience.

Joe Albrethsen, DubWars (Mura Interactive)

As a brand new indie company we saw Ouya as an opportunity to get a game out in front of an audience, both consumer and interested business parties. We knew if we could develop for this new console and have something ready for release it would bring about something to help put our company on the map. We did treat Ouya as a stepping stone from the begging and did not view it as the end platform for our success.


Are sales meeting your expectations? (Any hard unit or dollar sales info here would be helpful, too!)

Rami Ismail, Super Crate Box (Vlambeer)

Since we released Super Crate Box for free, the sales numbers are exactly what we expected them to be. The download numbers are solid, though, and judging by some of the numbers we've been hearing from other developers it seems a viable platform to co-develop for. If your game is on Android, or you can compile it to an Android target, there's not really a reason to not at least try. Super Crate Box was ported over in a weekend.

Eric Froemling, BombSquad

I really had no clue what to expect, but I've been happy so far; I peaked at close to 200 sales per day and am currently sitting at around 70.  It sounds like everyone's been seeing a bit of a sales drop after the initial few-week surge, so I'm curious to see what the tail will wind up looking like.

Ryan Wiemeyer, Organ Trail (The Men Who Wear Many Hats)

It's sold about half of what my low-end predictions were. Last I checked we were at 501 purchases from 13,112 downloads. (a 3.8 percent attach rate.)  This accounts for about 0.1 percent of our total Organ Trail sales to date (which is over 400,000.) So, I don't even know if it was worth the man hours yet. Then again... Organ Trail was a pain to add controller support to and that was the bulk of the port.

E McNeill, Bombball

Bombball is making a little over $30 a day, before Ouya's cut. I kind of knew from the start that I was making a game that would be difficult to sell. Still, I let my expectations get inflated over time, and now I'm a little disappointed with the sales.

Adam Spragg, Hidden in Plain Sight

It's hard for me to have any expectations about selling a local-multiplayer-only game.  I had no idea how many Ouyas would be sold, how many extra controllers would be sold, etc. It was a pleasant surprise to find out that PS3 and Xbox controllers would work with the system.

Because I have multiple versions of the game, it's hard to know how many people have downloaded it. If 2,000 people downloaded version 1.2, and 3,000 have downloaded version 1.3, how many of the 1.3 numbers are upgrades from 1.2?  Impossible.  I don't really check download numbers.

Hidden in Plain Sight  has sold 1,900 units, generally around 40'ish per day.  I do a "pay what you want" with a minimum price of $1.  My gross sales are $4,381, which indicates an average price of a little over $2. Although I didn't know what to expect, I'm happy with the sales numbers.  I think they are better than I'd hoped for.

… As a small P.S.... it seems like my sales numbers are falling off a bit recently.  I wonder if the initial rush of Kickstarter and pre-orders is over, and perhaps fewer units are being sold it recent days?  Hard to know.

Shay Pierce, Get on Top (Ouya port of Bennett Foddy's game)

Sales are about what I expected for a launch like this. Here's some (EXCLUSIVE!) sales data:

Twenty-four days after launch, we've had about 9,700 unique downloads, which has converted to 520 sales (that's a 5.36 percent conversion rate), earning us $728 to date (after Ouya's 30 percent cut).

Note that our strategy is to allow the player ONE free round of the game every day - buying the game for $2 unlocks that limitation. Our theory is that this lets people keep launching and playing the game occasionally... one of those times, they'll be drunk enough to decide to actually buy it.

Joe Albrethsen, DubWars (Mura Interactive)

Sales are hard for us to comment on as we do not have a finished game, but we are running a beta for those that pre-order DubWars. We have set our price point high at $15 and actually have a decent response. The conversion rate is really bad, coming in under 1 percent. Again, we are not offering a completed game, so we predict it will increase when the game is fully finished.


What have you been most happy with about Ouya?

Rami Ismail, Super Crate Box (Vlambeer)

The promise of openness and the "curated" storefront. We'd argue that the games industry is moving towards more of a specialized curation model where different places cater to different audiences, and the Ouya shop has things like those built right into the store-page.

Eric Froemling, BombSquad

Sales aside, It's been great exposure for BombSquad. It's also been great working with the Ouya folks; they've been very supportive.  At one point, after I brought up issues with their early controllers, one of their engineers went out of his way to drive past my apartment in San Francisco and drop off some controllers with new test firmware for me to try out. He handed me a bag through his car window at a busy intersection and then sped off; it was like some sort of dorky drug deal.

Ryan Wiemeyer, Organ Trail (The Men Who Wear Many Hats)

I think the best part of the Ouya from a dev side has been the ease at which we can bother the people running the show. They are obviously limited in what they can do for us, but I like the direct connection to a few core people, as opposed to any of the other consoles where you are dealing with a whole company. 

E McNeill, Bombball

Every time I've interacted with the people at Ouya, they've been wonderful. I've gotten technical support, quick responses to emails, and even some requests for feedback on upcoming features. They really strive to be indie-friendly.

Adam Spragg, Hidden in Plain Sight

 I'm most happy with the ease of entry to publish a game on the Ouya.  I'm also pleased with the very indie-centric feel of it.  I think it will be a platform know for experimental and "hidden gem" titles.  I'm a strong believer that indie games push the edge of the gaming space, and I think the Ouya will help that foster that.

Shay Pierce, Get on Top (Ouya port of Bennett Foddy's game)

The hands-on support I received from their developers. I was shipping the first Ouya game made with Flash/AIR technology, during their launch week... yet they still found time to give me incredible direct support, fixing some issues on their platform side, and helping me track down mistakes and misunderstandings on my end. (At one point, their programmer, Tim G., was on Skype with me at 1 a.m.! That's dedication.)

It seemed to me that they're a small but smart group who are doing something very complex, very quickly... they've made some mistakes, but they're proactively fixing them.

Joe Albrethsen, DubWars (Mura Interactive)

The developer support was way better than we could have expected. As with a new console release there are always going to be challenges for early adopters. Ouya staff was very involved and actually devoted some scarce hours to helping our game work with the Ouya Development Kit. It is scary every time there is an update as it has been notorious for breaking something in the game. We pushed an update with our controls reversed for the official public launch. That being said, once the issue was identified they were quick to help get our update through.


What's been not-so-great about Ouya, stuff that Ouya should be working on/fixing?

Rami Ismail, Super Crate Box (Vlambeer)

Obviously, there have been some problems with the controller, but in general we're extremely satisfied with how everything worked out.

Eric Froemling, BombSquad

Right now it feel like a good but unpolished console; I just hope they just keep polishing.  This would include the little warts that you see some up in reviews like wi-fi reception issues, squishy d-pad, slightly stuttery menus, etc.  I think there are also things they could do on the curation side to improve the overall quality of games, such as enforcing TV-safe zones or third party controller support (or automatically doing so via software somehow).  This of course is a tricky balance because you don't want to scare away developers with too many requirements.

Ryan Wiemeyer, Organ Trail (The Men Who Wear Many Hats)

We launched Organ Trail early on the platform to try and drum up excitement, but I think most people forgot about it by the time we fully launched. There was no way to communicate to the people who had downloaded it that you could buy it now, unless they open it up again. And, we has just about fallen off all the "Top Whatever" lists we previously had. I feel like discoverability of quality games is always going to be an issue on this device, but I also find communication to be lacking between developers and the fans. I can't even put a link to the Ouya version on our website because they don't have a web-store yet. It feels weird. I don't know how to advertise it without an actionable link.

E McNeill, Bombball

I think the biggest issue with the console is in the marketing. I don't see much enthusiasm for the Ouya, at least among online gamer communities. Some of that is due to a backlash from some Kickstarter backers. Some of it is based on misconceptions; I've seen a lot of people who assume that the Ouya is all about playing Angry Birds on a TV. Somehow Ouya needs to refine their sales pitch and make more people actually want their console.

Adam Spragg, Hidden in Plain Sight

Normal release pains, I think. How are they going to slice-and-dice their games so that the good games are easy to find, but the rest are not totally lost in the crowd.  XBLIG is known for lots of crap... with such a low barrier of entry, how will Ouya avoid the same fate?

Shay Pierce, Get on Top (Ouya port of Bennett Foddy's game)

The controllers had some serious problems: the thumbstick accuracy issue, and the "buttons getting stuck" problem, were the really heinous ones. But to their credit, they've fixed these issues, and they're replacing controllers for free... and the other controller complaints I've heard are either very subjective "feel" issues, or issues with the Bluetooth signal range.

Aside from this I think their biggest problem is public relations and messaging. I feel that many people have misunderstood what "Android console" means (it's definitely not just ports of smartphone games); and many developers have misunderstood what "every game is free-to-try" means. "The Ouya has a crap controller" is the story I keep hearing; but if Ouya would keep proactively replacing old controllers, and getting the word out about doing so, maybe they could still change that story.

Joe Albrethsen, DubWars (Mura Interactive)

Their method of discovering games needs to be worked out. It is difficult to find games and depending on where your game is located on their screen you may never be discovered. We were fortunate enough to be featured upon release, but now that they have cycled the category we have seen a dramatic dip in sales. 


Do you plan on releasing another game on Ouya? Was your first game worth the effort?

Rami Ismail, Super Crate Box (Vlambeer)

Who knows? If it's a title that'd work on the Ouya, we might consider it - for Luftrausers  it's too late at this point, we're releasing that soon and we really want to start focusing on the games we're making after that. 

Eric Froemling, BombSquad

I still have a lot of things I want to add to BombSquad, but if I were releasing another game today I believe I would put it on Ouya.  Especially with the other Android consoles confirmed (and rumored) to be coming soon, writing the type of game that can work well on Ouya seems like a fairly worthwhile investment.

Ryan Wiemeyer, Organ Trail (The Men Who Wear Many Hats)

Since we use Unity, it should be easy enough for us to port some of our smaller games to Ouya. I would like to for an upcoming arcade style game, but based on the performance of Organ Trail so far... I don't know that it would be worth it for some of our larger projects.

After spending some time with the system as a player, I found that it's at it's best when playing a simple multiplayer game with a friend. It seems that local co-op and split screen play -- or as we call it, couch co-op -- has been lost as the major consoles push forward. I look forward to more simple and social experiences on the system. I have yet to see a meaty single player experience I would rather play on my Ouya, as opposed to, say, my PC. Our next game, which is more arcade style, is probably a great fit for the platform so I am eager to see how that goes.

E McNeill, Bombball

The Ouya is hugely different from other indie-friendly platforms, and that's its biggest strength and its biggest weakness. Bombball was made for the Ouya, and it will be an even harder sell on other platforms like PC or mobile, where controllers and big-screen local multiplayer are rare. And most games that were designed for other platforms will be awkward on the Ouya at best. It was definitely the right place for Bombball (where else could it go?), but I'd have to consider other games on a case-by-case basis.

Adam Spragg, Hidden in Plain Sight

My first game was a port, so it wasn't a whole lot of effort.  No current plans for my next game, but I'm looking closely at Unity and targeting Ouya, among other platforms.  Basically, as a hobbyist with a tiny budget, I'll release on any platform that makes it easy on me.  So far, that's been XBLIG and Ouya and PC.

Shay Pierce, Get on Top (Ouya port of Bennett Foddy's game)

I do think it was worth the effort, and I'd like to bring more games to the Ouya. The bottom line is that 1) this is a $100 console, so the potential userbase is very large; and 2) they're continuing to fix the issues. Remember that Steam had a very shaky launch...but they proactively fixed all their problems, and look at it now.

For me the point was never the Ouya; the point was "cheap hardware, an open app store in the living room, and pack-in controllers." It's the first game console that fits this description, but it's not going to be the last.

Joe Albrethsen, DubWars (Mura Interactive)

Yes, we see Ouya as a worthwhile investment for releasing future games. We would never release an exclusive title, but having it as another platform is profitable because of the accessibility and minimal cost.

[Kris Graft wrote this originally on sister site Gamasutra]