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July 2015 Retro Gaming Article


July 27, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Sold to Razer, Ouya CEO leaves the helm & hardware will fade away for Forge TV

Ouya I bought an Ouya through their initial Kickstarter. The Wii U was struggling, new Sony & Microsoft consoles were on horizon and I was looking for something new and exciting. I'd heard about Android micro consoles, but hadn't felt enthusiasm until I began reading about the Ouya.

They purported to be taking the speed and ease of mobile development and putting it on your living room TV. I loved the sound of that! Small screens and finger swipe controls weren't my cup of tea. I was excited for the premise of game console offering the wealth of games I was seeing in online mobile stores. I wanted something NEW!!

Ouya promised demos of EVERY game it sold - a terrific sounding "try before you buy" model. Perhaps I was naive, but it seemed as though this odd little box was going to set the gaming industry on it's head. At the time I felt a shake-up with an admirable competitor might yield a positive result.

I felt as though I was on the cusp os something awesome! When it finally arrived, I set it up and began searching through the games. The first thing I discovered were the vast array of emulators. I began installing them and suddenly, my new Android micro console became my ROM Station. I loaded a USB drive full of games and was delighted to skip from 2600 to NES to Genesis and beyond. I loved the ease of going platform to platform on a big screen!

Th Ouya Was OK

Over time I found some cool games, but by and large, I used my Ouya to play ROMS. I've never liked playing them on a computer with a keyboard and I'm a console gamer at heart. So the Ouya was great for that. As time marched on, I saw the insidious glut of awful mobile games. Customers didn't have a good way to find the right games and developers were having a tough time getting their games noticed.

The Ouya didn't have this problem despite being akin the the mobile game arena. The fact was, few games were ported to the Ouya, so it wasn't too difficult to see what was being offered. I had hopes that the Ouya wold connect cool indie devs with consumers who loved what they did. That social aspect never seemed to happen for me. I still felt like I was shopping in a store. I wanted to feel like I was closer to the devs as they honed their games and added more content. I guess I was seeking an impossible dream or I was just out of my mind. Who knows.

Razers Forge TV

Razer Swoops In

Razer bought a large chunk of Ouya on June 12, 2015 including the content catalog, software assets, online store and the name "Ouya". Coincidentally, the purchase didn't include the hardware. I'm shocked they didn't want that clunky controller in their purview.

It's now being reported that Ouya founder and CEO Julie Uhrman is no longer with the company, but is assisting with the transition.

Razer wants to leverage Ouya software and customers for their Android TV and Android-based console, Forge TV. Ouya's 1,500+ games are already optimized for Razer as a nice starting point. Part of the plan is to make games more widely available on Android devices. Ouya was proprietary to it's hardware.

Polygon posted an article that sorts out a lot of the details of Razer buying Ouya. It was stated that the Ouya hardware will be phased out in an effort to sell owners on a Forge TV device. It sounds as if Ouya hardware has about one year before it is completely shut down. So... um... buy the games you want now - i guess.

My enthusiasm for micro consoles has dwindled as I'm no longer sure of their role. They don't seem to be standardized on anything other than running on an Android OS. Frankly, I don't care what the device runs on (OK, that's not entirely true). I'm more concerned with what games - and other functions - wil run on the micro console. I was interested in Ouya as I hoped it would bring a new vibe for game development to TVs rather than tiny-screened phones.

In the end, I'm more excited about Nintendo products at the moment. I love what the Ouya brought to my enjoyment of ROM files, but the games didn't draw me away from my love of traditional console gaming. In fact I recently bought a Wii U and still love my 2DS. Still, I see interesting functions being included on Android micro consoles, so I'm still interested to see if this sector will really bring great mobile games to larger TV screens. Maybe they will fill a completely new void.

I'll hang on to my Ouya as a bold step in video game history, but I wish it's significance has included the re-shaping of console gaming that I'd longed for. It was a cool ride and I'm curious to see how micro consoles fit into traditional console gaming. What will future products bring to the table. What problems will they solve? Will they become the new gaming consoles as Microsoft and Sony branch into home entertainment devices... that also play games. As always, it will be a wild ride. :)

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