Anyone who reads the site on a regular basis knows that I think about the Ouya. I think it’s a novel concept and may one day be the mainstream, but today is not the day. No matter how folks try to spin it, the Ouya is at this point a novel item that lots of people buy because of the low entry point but they don’t ultimately use it in any kind of significant way. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that the Ouya is by any means a failure, but it may be just a decade or so ahead of its time.
In a recent interview with The Verge, the head of Ouya, Julie Uhrman, revealed a piece of information that should make us all stand up and pay attention. Uhrman revealed that numbers Ouya owners aren’t actually buying that many games. While she said that the Ouya’s revenue was above expectation, one can’t help but be concerned about what intial expectation actually where. Uhrman went on to say that just 27% of Ouya owners have actually paid for a piece of content. Instead, the overwhelming majority of Ouya owners have chosen to download free-to-play games, demos along with illegal NES and SNES emulators. Any which way you cut that news, it’s not good. I understand the argument that the Ouya needs time to get its footing, but the truth is it may never get there. To succeed the Ouya must do one of two things, they either need to convince casual gamers to step up from their smartphones and tablets or they’ve got to convince hardcore gamers to come down to their platform. To date neither has happened and I personally don’t think it ever will. I think the Ouya occupies a gray space that nobody really wants filled right now, at least not enough to spend serious coin on games for the platform.
Uhrman also revealed another worrying statistic, the fact that the system’s most successful titles, TowerFall (14.99) and Hidden in Plain Sight, have earned $21,000 and $4,381 respectively. That’s crazy, I mean iOS and Android games often make way more than that at significantly lower starting price points. In the case of TowerFall, the game’s creator Matt Thorson’s recently announced that he’s bringing the game to PC, to try and attract a larger audience I’m sure. All is not lost though with developer interest improving with the Ouya now having over 21,000 registered developers. In addition, she noted that the systems rate of upgrade from free to paid version (8%) is actually very good in the free-to-play market, though we have no reference point for that.
So there you have it folks, even the people that plop down the money for the console, really aren’t willing to spend money on games for it. For a platform to strive, consumers have to spend money supporting it and if Ouya can’t seriously turn some of these numbers around and get people spending really money on the platform, we’ll soon be talking about how much potential it had and didn’t achieve. But that’s just me folks, hit up the comments and share your thoughts.