It's interesting how negative the original HN thread is. Everything from "it's too underpowered" to straight up "Gaming on android is a sad, laggy affair" and calling them "amateurs".
What is up with that? HN is supposed to be about the cutting edge and it just dumped all over this project which then went on to get $1million in 8 hours. I suggest a sizable part of the HN "doesn't get it". And this saddens and bugs me. I come to HN for the news and also very much the commentary. But suddenly there seems like this big anti android pro iOS bias and a bunch of curmudgeons running things.
This device looks really cool, has amazing potential, is near free for a console and clearly has amazing demand but HN put out the hate. What gives?
This isn't the first time I've noticed this. Recently several neat android related announcements have gotten some strongly negative commentary here and even none announcement iOS articles have gotten glowing praise. :(
This has been bothering me as well. HN has gotten into a habit of shitting all over new ideas, innovations and technology start-ups. It's not just android or iOS, nor is it about taking VC money or not. It's about trying to do something different and showing promise. If you do that a large part of HN community will just shit all over you.
This is very different from the community a few years or even a few months ago.
These people are trying to disrupt a market that solely belongs to big players (MS, Sony and Nintendo), shouldn't we be happy that a smaller player is trying to enter the tough market. That deserves some applause and a pat on the back, doesn't it?
I've noticed this trend as well. It's hard to miss for anyone who's lurked here longer than two years.
That said, I think I know what the culprit is: money. Check out the headlines on the front page. How many titles contain a '$'? Yesterday I saw some big numbers: 100M for github, 20M for stripe, 10M for someone else, plus kayak IPO numbers. Today we've got kickstarter.
As a community, we've become obsessed with money. Bootstrapping revenue, angel rounds, VC funding, acquisitions, IPOs, croudfunding, etc. When people focus on money they get upset. There are a myriad of reasons for this, but the quick version is that it's human nature and basically unavoidable.
So, in short: we think too much about money, and as a consequence we're grumpy.
I think it's related to post-purchase rationalisation. People are emotionally wedded to the tools they use and the paradigms they operate in because changing (or, God forbid, "catching up") implies they've somehow miscalculated or invested their time incorrectly.
Especially in the tech scene, a lot of people see themselves as unappreciated geniuses. The idea that there's a good, simple alternative that will get mass adoption that they haven't thought of doesn't fit that narrative. There must have been a reason they already dismissed the idea, so they approach it skepticism. (The money thing is related to this - unappreciated geniuses deserve a good get-rich-quick scheme, after all.)
Hey, you're on the 'message board' of a professional investment firm. What did you expect, a bunch of altruists totally not hoping all their comment karma will magically cause them to be called up by PG and swept into the next YC round on a golden carpet of SV-Angel convertible notes?
Technically this is hacker news, a site for links/news about hacking and things hackers would find interesting. While startups have always been something the site has featured, over the years it seems to have shifted significantly more toward a startup/money focus which is why I've personally reduced my reading here by a fair amount.
Recently I've been finding that my twitter feed is a much better way to get my dose of hacking related stuff -- if you follow the right people it's wonderful! (It's kind of sad that I have resorted to that though, since HN did open my eyes to a lot of things back in high school.)
True, but I'd wager the majority of readers/commenters are not investors but entrepreneurs. It'd be nice to see more support and can-do-ness rather than dumping on ideas. More constructive criticism than that's stupid and will never work.
The entrepreneurs are probably faced with a bit of 'zero-sum' syndrome, where if someone else is doing something successful or cool, then they may feel that there is less room in the market for their own idea/product.
I personally come here for tech related stuff (not an entrepreneur, don't particularly care to become one) but still find myself getting caught up in the latest funding BS news. Unfortunately, SV (and HN) seems to be getting watered down with a lot of money-chasers. Of course, I am sure someone, somewhere was saying the exact same thing 30 years ago, so whatever...
First, the original thread was overtly negative and that surprised me. I even commented in that thread saying as much. Generally, I think the HN community got that one wrong, and its obvious too because they got $1million in less than 24 hours which is more than anyone can say for half the projects that get posted here.
And on that note, the negativity, it seems to me, is largely due to the ballooning of this community and a bunch of half-baked, unoriginal, crowded-market ideas with uninspired product designs being posted. It seems everyone thinks that just because they use NodeJS, mustache, coffeescript and want to take a bottom-up approach to X for Y and apply to YC that makes them an entrepreneur. While these people are embarking on a learning process a "black cup of coffee" never hurt anyone.
> is largely due to the ballooning of this community and a bunch of half-baked, unoriginal, crowded-market ideas with uninspired product designs being posted. It seems everyone thinks that just because they use NodeJS, mustache, coffeescript and want to take a bottom-up approach to X for Y and apply to YC that makes them an entrepreneur.
But what's wrong with that? If this doesn't make them an entrepreneur what does? There is no magic to becoming an entrepreneur. It's not an elite group of people who have to pass a trial by fire. Everyone who wants to change things can be an entrepreneur. Anyone with a project and who big dreams for the project.It doesn't require a college degree, any connections or any credentials.
If anyone comes to me and tells me he is an entrepreneur I expect myself to be supportive. It's hard to do this and if we don't support each other who will?
Honest criticism is supporting. People don't come to HN for positive feedback only. Their users certainly won't be so nice.
Shitting on half baked ideas in my mind is a public service. I'm saying that it isn't negative, and that saying "looks cool" and "keep up the Great work" isn't nearly as helpful as "I would never use much less pay for this and here is why".
My point is that if people think constructive feedback is negative and they get butt hurt over their poorly received Show HN post, they probably aren't fit for entrepreneurial endeavors. That's all.... Just man up.
> My point is that if people think constructive feedback is negative and they get butt hurt over their poorly received Show HN post, they probably aren't fit for entrepreneurial endeavors.
Constructive criticism is fair but most of the comments are straight on aggressive and in most cases not greatly useful or constructive. Many of them are pedantic. In fact, in my opinion most insightful comments are almost always the comments that don't paint the picture in black and white and take everything into consideration. It's almost obvious if you think of it. The smartest people understand and deal with nuances.
> Just man up.
While this is true and most people should not take the a stranger on the internet too seriously. However, what most entrepreneurs do is hard. Trying to change the way things work. Most people give it all they have and still fail. What is wrong with being a little supportive? Why not help out a fellow hacker/entrepreneur/community member?
Criticism and friendliness are not mutually exclusive.
I think there is an increasing number of people here who have either stopped thinking big or never started. Disruption is becoming just a business meme like synergy and teamwork. Some people fear change and while the community here seems to embrace change there are many who are really, really scared by the idea of their world shifting.
Kickstarter is a great place to raise some money for an interesting project. Get a couple of like minded hackers on side, write a decent proposal and demo a product and you too can get a cool million. I'm sure that is terrifying for a lot of people here. They are afraid because its a threat to their dreams of making it or the way they 'made it'. They are afraid because they don't have any ideas. They are afraid because they have a choice.
I love the little guys who are trying to upset the big players. I genuinely adore some of the players out there at the moment who are thinking big and trying to do or make wholly new things. It's fantastic to see that sort of creativity finally getting attention and funding. But I don't think everyone shares my enthusiasm.
I think some people are just pretending and playing at being the type of person they wish they were.
It will be interesting to see how it plays out. There are some unanswered questions, things like "Hmm that seems awfully inexpensive given where you are starting from." So let's assume nVidia gives them a great deal and they pay $10/CPU, plus memory, plus flash, plus assembly. We're looking at $65 or so to build it. Consider something like the Beaglebone which uses a cheaper CPU and its costs.
Now historically game console manufacturers sold consoles near (or below!) cost and then made up the difference selling licensees as part of the games, made famous by Nintendo early on, the 'custom game cart' that they had to make for you. But these guys want to keep games low cost (even free) so that's a challenge.
Then there is the OS, sure its a port of Android but it isn't Android. It has their own stuff in it, and like all complex software packages Android is full of bugs of varying complexity, and being a bit 'off axis' as they are they will probably wander into less tested code. So they no doubt have at least one and probably two or three full time Android kernel/system engineers. So that's like a .5M$/yr burdened cost, more so if they do point optimizations to improve their user experience.
We've got the Founder(s) (presumably the designer is on contract and they can jettison those ongoing costs once they are done) so say they run a really tight ship, maybe 10 people? So maybe they have a $6M/yr burn rate. How much do they have to sell to cover those costs? What numbers did they promise their suppliers? Lets be generous and say they can sell 100K units the first year. That would require clearing $60/unit to break even. They currently have about 13K backers, so for everyone one they sell on Kickstarter they will need another 10 to sell somewhere else.
Or, perhaps the Kickstarter project is all there is. Once they make the 13 - 15k units (or what ever it ends up to be) for the developers they are done. They walk away. What sort of future does any console have when rounded to the nearest million units there are zero out there ?
So its an interesting thing indeed. Having played with Android on the Pandaboard I can say its not a 'fun' place to be (well if you're trying to get something done, if you just want to hack Android its great fun) Obviously you can't know if it will be a runaway success or a well meaning implosion but either way its enlightening to see this crowd funded business model tried for this class of goods.
Maybe you're not familiar with Android game economics. The but most of the top grossing games are "free" with in app payment (freemium virtual in game items). The success of freemium varies per game categories, in more incumbent game styles, there aren't many. But in newer innovative game types, like casual social games, in app payment is the main revenue source for over 70% of top grossing games. There's a clear tendency towards this model. But many (most) developers still don't understand it well (it's far from trivial to use right).
Their businesses model, as they make clear in their kickstarter page, is the same as others, take 30% rev share of the games (most of the critics seem to have not read that). Which is a multi-billionaire fast growing industry on Android. There's nothing obviously wrong with them selling hardware cheap to make up for it with games.
And their insistence on free games with in app payment only shows they understand this industry much better than most game developers. Which gives them a huge leg over slow incumbent giants like nintendo and MS. Who are still struggling to understand what the hell this freemium thing is for. (tip: if you see a game developer use terms like "DLC" or "DRM", it's a red flag that they're not catching up with our time)
They have 29 more days to go, and are currently at $1.7M. Based on the # limits that they set for their pledges, I think it would be safe to assume that they hit about $3M. I am sure that this changes the equation quite a bit.
Bear in mind that if they "validate" the idea by getting a gigantic number of backers, they'll have investors throwing money at them to get a slice of that 30% royalties pie, a model Apple has strongly validated.
They have the independent air for now, but I think the chance of them taking funding from somewhere is pretty high in the long run for many of the reasons you state.
It's not going to be fully free probably. They're using it to bootstrap a game marketplace for their currency or whatever. They're probably going to have a facebook credits equivalent and that's how they'll make their money. Also whatever they can make from hardware.
> It's interesting how negative the original HN thread is. Everything from "it's too underpowered" to straight up "Gaming on android is a sad, laggy affair" and calling them "amateurs".
I think there's a significant proportion of the HN userbase that responds to things like Kickstarter funding with indignation, because it neatly circumvents the VC funding process that so many of us have suffered through. It's almost a "How dare they raise so much money without jumping through hoops like I did?"
So people find a better way to get money and the old hardened crowd here gets cranky? How fast we grow into curmudgeons. I need to find a new "hacker news" that still has the spirit and would say "holy cow, congrats, amazing work, and we should look to see if we can exploit that next time too". So much for the spirit of the entrepreneur and hacker. Seems old school corporate crankiness. :(
That's the terribly hard thing about building a worthwhile community and what draws us all here. You need some strong nucleus and just as you don't know me from jack, I don't know you either. PG founded this place initially and that drew most of us here. Then that community he brought kept us here. Now in some people's opinions it may be getting a bit sour, but it's also been amazing for a long (longer than average on the net?) time. That's a good accomplishment.
But as to your question? I don't know you and don't see why any clone you created would be any better than one I created. I came here as much for the commentary. And it's that I'm starting to loose respect for. I don't see how you or I could replicate that on our own.
It's not simple this community building and maintaining game.
I intentionally avoided chiming in on that thread so I didn't sound like a sourpuss. I'm not sure if it's jealousy alone, but I feel like it's bit improper for people to be moving those kind of volumes on products so early in their design cycle. So many things can and do go wrong especially with what's a reasonably complex software/hardware ecosystem - it sounded like they hadn't really started a lot of it yet. Projects are hard to bring in on time even when you're pretty experienced with the platform etc. I'm not saying they're not going to be successful, it's just from a statistical point of view I would expect some of these high profile long lead time deals to implode.
Which isn't to say I object to them as obviously the interest is there, but I'm not sure I'd feel ok taking millions in orders before I had at least done a tiny engineering sample run, had a set of testable software etc. Because even the people who are pros have to go back to the drawing board sometimes.
Anyway I do agree with you - I feel a bit of resentment about some of these big kickstarter deals, but I try to keep it to myself. Ones that are simpler or are really just using it as a pre-order tool don't bug me at all.
I hope they succeed because I hate the closed systems of the big three. I would love to develop/ship some software without having to jump through the many hoops that the big three put up. That said I am skeptical that they will build a machine that I would fall in love with. There are so many problems with what's listed:
- not enough RAM
- not enough secondary storage
- no DVD/Blu Ray drive
- powerful enough video card?
- controller button layout not suitable for colour-blind people
Add those items and bump up the price $100 and I'm in. I want this to succeed and they don't have many chances to get it right.
The RAM argument amuses me since it has twice the RAM of the xbox360 and the PS3. And a dedicated console has different RAM requirements than a generic OS box. Also games have forever been making due with what RAM is available.
The DVD/blueray player IMHO misses the point. It's an internet download game console. It's now an all-in-one media box, it's one (cheap!) thing. Get a separate blueray/dvd player if you need (cheap too)
Ok I too wonder a bit about the storage but that mostly irrelevant if they have an SD card slot
Powerful enough video card? Well, it's playing android games and the tegra is the best android video card out there right now. I'm not sure you can just drop an off the shelf nvidia/ati card into and android/ARM setup and have it go with out some expensive driver development somewhere. The tegra already works, is ready to go, and gives the current best performance of the market and games they are targeting.
Controller: I'm pretty sure at over half a year out they can tweak that. And usually as with every other console there's a decent market in 3rd party controllers.
I think the $100 price point is one of it's best features and doubling it would be terrible.
To add to the RAM/storage thing, the fact that it's always on the internet is a big deal. Media can be streamed from central servers on-demand, so cut-scenes and things like area-specific textures are less of a big deal.
My biggest worry is the focus on the television. Do you remember the head-mounted display John Carmack was showing around E3? The guy who made it gave an update  on the project a few days ago, saying
1) I am talking to Valve.
2) I am talking to id/Zenimax/Bethesda
3) I am talking to Epic
4) I am talking to Crytek
5) I am talking to Unity
6) I am talking to several other development companies
The extent of their relationships with Oculus varies, but
I can promise at least a few partnerships... I am working
with hardware engineers...
Imagine an HMD with a massive field of view and more
pixels than 1080p per eye, wireless PC link, built in
absolute head and hand/weapon/wand positioning, and native
integration with some (if not all) of the major game
engines, all for less than $1,000 USD. That can happen in
I think next-gen "serious" gaming will move in that direction (by all accounts the immersion is stunning), and I think casual gaming will never move away from mixed-use devices like tablets.
While the head-mounted display is very interesting, it does not make sense for a product like this to target a platform that has not yet been released when gaming on the TV will be around for at least 5+ years. Maybe a future version could target a head-mounted display.
Good points there. Will people, not on Kickstarter, buy it if it can't play movies off Netflix? They will only have the budget for one console. I suspect that people will want to run it as their media player and other things, so more RAM the better (plus it will make developers happy!). This is the trajectory of the XBox 360 and the PS3 (as media players). I want this console to disrupt the current market so it has to match those machines. What's also important is a wired network port. Ok, I can forgive it if it doesn't have a DVD player but add several USB ports please! I don't want this console to be a curiosity shelved one month after purchase.
I completely agree on the specs; a Tegra3-based platform has more than enough grunt to deliver a "game console" experience for the sort of indie and free-to-play games this platform will attract.
The only thing i'm concerned about is whether they can get even the hardware they've committed to in a $99 budget. Consider that this has the same hardware as the HTC one X, but without the screen, battery, and 3G connectivity. So they have to not only get the Tegra3 for $99, but also the case and power supply. Even if they manage to get those parts down to $99, they still have to add the controller, which will need it's own processor/controller to track and send the inputs over bluetooth to the console. Not to mention the cost of the controller hardware itself, particularly the touchpad.
The other thing that worries me is the Android base. Is the OS still going to lock code to using the Dalvik/Java-based API? If so then I have no hope of creating any games for the platform in my favourite language, Go. What about native-development, new experimental native game engines or languages? Hopefully they'll open the platform up a bit in this respect and allow some native development through a C API or something.
I definitely hope they pull through and deliver on this project, although I can imagine it not making it's way down to the southern hemisphere very quickly, if at all.
It's supposed to be an open hackable plateform so you can root it easily and even hack the hardware. So that mean you can add RAM, a more powerful video card, use your own controller. Even if you're not a hacker, it comes with a USB port so you can plug-in your usb stick or your 1Tb external hard drive if you need a secondary storage. Also, regular people don't need all that extra stuff or know they exist.
It sort of defeats the point of the console if it has to be hacked to add more RAM to make it usable. Might as well buy a PC. I want the console base system to be powerful enough to make developers happy to develop on it and enable a variety of apps that can be developed.
I never said you had to add more RAM to make it usable. This will run Android games so 1G of RAM is more than enough as you'll only run one game at a time. But if you want more RAM, it's possible. And as already mentioned, it comes with twice more RAM than the xbox and ps3.
My concern is how future-proof will the device be. Will the base platform be powerful enough to support apps that developers will want to develop for it? You can't tell people to hack their console just to run your protein-folding program. I want this console to disrupt the market. People are itching to develop for a popular console. Developers, developers, developers!
There has to be enough RAM to future-proof it for the next 5 years. That's the lifetime of a console before a new version comes out. I don't want them to be releasing newer consoles each year with more RAM and capabilities, resulting in a fragmented software market.
What makes you say there isn't enough RAM? Are you saying it from a "future-proof" point of view? You're only going to run one game at a time, and I don't think Android games can even use more than 50 MB of RAM or something (just like they can't on iOS). The graphics are good enough for this price. We're talking indie games here, not AAA games.
>What makes you say there isn't enough RAM? Are you saying it from a "future-proof" point of view? You're only going to run one game at a time, and I don't think Android games can even use more than 50 MB of RAM or something (just like they can't on iOS).
Agree in general but with one giant exception... Minecraft.
The Pocket and Xbox versions of Minecraft have tiny little maps due to memory limitations.
If adding more memory did one thing -- gave them an console Minecraft clearly superior to the Xbox version -- that's worth it. They'll sell a ton of them. They knew what they were doing when the one game they namedropped in their video Minecraft.
But disrupting a market completely doesn't happen from the first generations. It took even Apple a few generations to bring down Nokia and RIM, the former leaders of the smartphone market. So I wouldn't worry about this right now.
Plus, there's this trend where people are starting to care less and less about graphics and more about gameplay. That's how disruptions happen. They change the "rules of the game". They don't try to beat the old leaders with the same tricks (graphics performance), but with different ones (better gameplay, more games from indies, free to play, cheaper console etc).
If you think this console needs to be able to "compete" with PS4 and Xbox 360, you're looking at this in a very wrong way. Most of the people that will buy OUYA probably won't even be former Xbox/PS3 customers.
I remember when the iPhone came out, 80% of the people buying them were not "smartphone buyers". They were dumbphone buyers. It took a few years before the people who swore by their Symbian and Blackberry "smartphones" (which had "many more features") started getting interested in iPhones and Android phones.
The trend is game sales are down year over year. Studios are closing because massive multi million dollar productions are simply unsustainable. You see games being more expensive, have ads and sponsors on it, gameplay is cut down and sold as expensive downloadable content, and every game is using gimmicks like plastic toys to be able to sell a game copy for 99 or 150 bucks. And every year publishers have to one up in themselves like Charlie sheen going from a week long to a month long party.
Another concrete example: Kingdom of Amalur's developer Studio 38. The game has an epic franchise, great reviews, strong first month sales. The studio closed down because it would need to sell way too many copies just to break even. Even "top" consoles are selling at unprofitable levels and trying to make it even with tons of DLC.
Development for consoles is very inaccesible. Even for XBox which uses DirectX and can be downloaded. How many of people you know that programmed a ps3 game in college? '
There has to be a reversal of this trends and a console like this seems like a step in the right direction. So far seems like only nintendo figured out it's all about delivering fun that people like, not who has the biggest processor.
People doubt the 99 dollar price. Maybe it comes out being 150 or slightly more expensive, we don't know. It can definitively be cheap. Supposedly a Nexus 7 costs 184 dollars to make, 57 are just for the screen. Take out the screen, sensors,camera, battery, cut down memory...It sounds reasonable it could hit the price point.
"Another concrete example: Kingdom of Amalur's developer Studio 38. The game has an epic franchise, great reviews, strong first month sales. The studio closed down because it would need to sell way too many copies just to break even."
Not exactly. They broke even if not made a little profit on Kingdom of Amalur, not bad for a new IP from a new company. What killed them was they were building a massive MMO on the side that, according to the Giant Bomb guys, never had enough money to finish and were just funded from quarter to quarter based on new investments. A huge gamble. When the mayor came out saying they were a poor investment, their money dried up overnight and nobody would touch them. So, with a partially built MMO and bills needing to be paid they shut their doors. (source - ramblings from the Giant Bomb podcast and E3 interviews with David Jaffe)
Well, I've to admit I don't know the details of their closing, just what I've read. That they sold about 1.2 million copies according to VGchartz and an article quoted they needed 3 million to break even. Still, 1.2 million copies in 5 months that's a lot of copies. I've some friends doing games, and it boggles me how often I hear another AAA game studio shut down.
"The studio closed down because it would need to sell way too many copies just to break even. Even "top" consoles are selling at unprofitable levels and trying to make it even with tons of DLC"
Not exactly. They broke even if not made a little profit on Kingdom of Amalur, not bad for a new IP from a new company. What killed them was they were building a massive MMO on the side that, accordiding to the Giant Bomb guys, never had enough money to finish and was funded from quarter to quarter based on new investments. A huge gamble. When the mayor came out saying they were a poor investment, their money dried up overnight and nobody would touch them. So, with a partially built MMO and bills needing to be paid they shut their doors. (source - ramblings from the Giant Bomb podcast and E3 interviews with David Jaffe)
I didn't post anything in the original thread, but I had a negative initial reaction to the original article.
For me, at least, it has to do with three things:
1. The framing of the product. They make it sound like it will change to landscape of the video game market, not that it could. This type of grandiose posturing reeks of snake oil to me and turns me off completely. The device be a moderate success and sell a couple of million of units, but there's no way that Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo, and Apple (yes, Apple) are going to see it as a threat to their current gaming ecosystems. Each currently have an installed base of at least 60 million (with the admittedly dead-end Wii coming in at almost 100 million and iOS at over 200 million), and more importantly, household recognition thanks to millions in advertising spend. What needs to happen for this device to end up in 50 million living rooms? How likely are those things to happen?
2. Being wildly successful on Kickstarter is one thing, having social proof in the form of professional funding (VC, angel, and/or otherwise) is another thing. After all, it's easier to get 10,000 people to give you $100 than it is for one person to give you $1 million. I am strongly opposed to the "raise money now, make money later" approach to startups and wholeheartedly believe that it is possible to build a software startup by bootstrapping. That said (and this might just be due to my inexperience with hardware development), I don't know that it's possible to build a successful hardware business that requires significant capital outlay to get started without outside funding. Are these things profitable at the $99 price point? If not, where is the cash going to come from to mass produce these. Is 10-100k purchases enough to swing a Series A, even if those 10-100k were sold at or below cost? Kickstarter seems like a great way to sell small-batch, niche products, but not necessary any huge mainstream successes.
All of it boils down to this: I used to like innovative products just because they're innovative, but I've seen too many "great" products burned by a lack of a viable business behind the product. If I'm going to commit to a product or service, I need to know that it will be around for the long haul. I can no longer judge products on their own, I have to judge them based on their viability on the marketplace.
I don't think someone asking for a million-plus dollars of the public's money for their project deserves protection from slightly harsh critique. I made no personal assaults on the developers in question and provided a short list of detailed critiques about the project and apparently the only thing you read was the first sentence. What do you think is harmful about that? Do you think the critique would be more useful if I prefaced it with glowing praise that I didn't actually mean?
If you went and pitched your project to an angel asking for $50-100k of money, or went and pitched to a VC, would you expect them to be all rainbows and sunshine? Or would you expect them to be honest and tell you why they aren't interested in giving you money so that you can improve and address issues?
Yes, I suppose the joke is on me if they collect $10m, flame out violently, and inflict tremendous negative harm on the game industry and android game development for years to come, isn't it? I'm laughing already.
Money isn't success. Congrats to them on having money.
But that's the great thing about time. It will tell.
The majority of the comments in the previous thread was about the hardware which as always is a bad indicator of success. Just go revisit the original geek comments about the iPads configuration when that came out.
For quite a while, HN has been dominated by negative comments in general, many of which are also simply ignorant. Occasionally, you'll see an old-time comment, full of relevant facts (and generally with some balance, since it's usually hard to be 100% biased when using facts).
Therefore, I mostly avoid the comments on HN these days. The stories themselves can sometimes be interesting, but now I'm finding ol' slashdot is better for that.
My suggestion to fix this is to focus on stories that are "intellectually stimulating" and dropping topical news altogether (or having them in a separate frontpage).
"Industry News and Gossip" is part of the problem, I believe. It doesn't promote discussions that are intellectually stimulating, and it doesn't attract people who value intellectual stimulation. There's a thousand other news sites - it's never what made HN valuable.
HN has been dominated by negative comments in general
No the problem is the comment voting system on HN is completely pointless, and doesn't allow good comments to rise to the surface. So you end up reading all good/positive and all bad/negative comments as if they are the same.
Agree. Most stories that paint apple in an unfavourable light that I post never seem to go anywhere. Yesterday I saw this on the verge and posted it http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4222245 , to the sound of a deafening "meh".
As an author of one of the comments that apparently has made people so upset, I guess I should respond.
I don't see what your problem with my comment was. I provided a short list of clearly stated arguments why I believe their price point is unfounded and will impair their ability to ship a product, and why the price point (along with the marketing) suggests an incomplete knowledge of the problems they're attempting to address.
Why does this matter? Two reasons:
First, every large Kickstarter that takes money and fails to deliver will be an enormous hit to the viability of crowd-funding in general, and potentially increase the difficulties faced by other crowd-funded projects in terms of convincing backers to wait patiently for release. If something like the Ouya collects $3M in kickstarter funding and flames out violently, you can bet there will be lawyers lining up to file class action suits. Once this happens, the doors are probably open for harmful actions against all sorts of crowd-funded projects. This is all the more troublesome because game projects are in general troubled projects, so adding the spectre of legal threats isn't exactly going to improve things.
Second, the degree to which the project feels slapped together or not well thought out suggests a potential to cause harmful effects on the development community and the way game players engage with it. While from a revenue perspective, the modern wave of free-to-play and Facebook games is a tremendous thing - making plenty of people rich - the social effects are yet to be fully understood. The mechanics heavily leveraged by these games are, to the extent they are understood by psychology and testing, not harmless and in some cases extremely harmful to the players over both the short and long term. The business models behind these games fundamentally encourage building around singular players spending to the limit of their ability (or beyond it), and use the kind of abusive terminology previously used in casinos and the development of slot machines. Now there are even companies trying to convince game developers to use their middleware to turn their games into actual slot machines where players gamble real money.
Ouya's push is heavily predicated on it being about free to play games, the vast majority of which fall into the previously described category - destructive and built on psychological manipulation. The low price point means that Ouya would be the perfect choice for lower-income families that would otherwise not consider buying an expensive game console, and the emphasis on Android games being 'cheap' means that the majority of the games out there will be free downloads or a $1 purchase with the intent of getting players onto the microtransaction treadmill. I do not think this sort of future is good for anyone except investors (though in the short term, developers will benefit tremendously).
So I suppose yes, You could say that I "don't get it": I don't get why you would decide to abuse your entire customer base for short term profit at the expense of long term market health.
Some of the anger and dismissiveness in comments probably is, as you say, just about how it's android or about how it's open source or about how it was crowdfunded instead of VCd, or whatever. None of that is really a concern for me, as a person who doesn't own any Apple devices, hates OS X, uses an Android phone, develops open source projects, and hasn't ever been given a cent by venture capitalists or angel investors. I still think Ouya is probably going to be a bad thing unless the people running the project make a serious effort to curtail the potential for it to cause negative consequences for the industry as a whole.
I appreciate your analysis of the free-to-play games becoming more and more abusive. But I've long preferred buying quality games over free games with up-selling. Eventually many people will come to realize that games that prey on addictions to gambling-like behavior are no fun. If the general public doesn't learn this lesson, then you will have less to fear from consoles like Ouya than from all of iOS and Android devices put together.
The problem with your original comment is that many people feel it has potential you're not only not giving it credit for, but are actively trying to sabotage its chances of success.
The crux of your comments are two-fold: (1) if OUYA succeeds, it'll be the Facebook/Zynga console that preys on the poor to line the pockets of the rich, and (2) if it fails, it hurts Kickstarter and Kickstarter projects.
The view that "the vast majority of" the games of OUYA will be "built on psychological manipulation" is the most deeply cynical and skewed views of indie games I've ever read. Maybe I'm biased: I follow indie game developers a lot, I read their forum comments and blog posts, I listen to their podcasts, play many of their games (more than AAA titles) and watch YouTube play-throughs of others by other people. The message is the same: indie game developers are trying to do what they love while introducing something unique and interesting to the world, and those who go full-time want to make ends meet, a lot like many start-up founders. They're pretty frank and don't mince words, and not one of them has so much as hinted that they want to get rich by preying on the weak. This is counter to the Hacker News view, which is stories of indie games making millions of dollars, horrible tales of Facebook and Zynga using gambling psychology to nickel-and-dime the poor and addicted, and the Kickstarter gold rush being exploited by the smart and greedy. If I had to choose which view of indie games was reality, I'd believe the actual developers before the sensational stories that hit the Hacker News front page.
As for if OUYA fails, I can't say for sure what impact it will have, but it probably won't hold back Kickstarter or other promising Kickstarter projects. Should it follow the history of failed open consoles of development past, it will at most just fade into the background, never to be heard from again until somebody takes another stab at it.
The meatiest part of your original comment (ignoring the deep cynicism ingrained in it that people objected to) are the factors that may cause it to fail:
- Ability to deliver on its $99 cost, given most consoles sell at a loss that they recoup in titles.
As somebody who watches a lot of StarCraft 2 on TwitchTV and loves the variety of indie games, I'd consider the OUYA worthwhile even at 2-3 times this price.
- Anemic hardware: 8 GB for downloaded titles with only USB2 for expansion.
Thing like this can and may well be fixed; from OUYA's Kickstarter page:
> Launching on Kickstarter – this isn't just a way to raise funds. It's our way of involving supporters from the get go. We want your feedback as well as your support.
They seem open to this kind of feedback.
- the "lazy" (I'd claim short-sighted) factor, e.g. color-coded only buttons are hard to communicate, especially for the color-blind
See above. Putting shapes on the buttons would be trivial, and the controller is stated to be a prototype, not a final product.
- lack of a killer app and seeming reliance on the Android Market to fill the gap
I expanded all the FAQ segments, ran a search on the page and didn't get one hit for "android market", so that's just speculation.
On not having a killer app, the big sell of OUYA to me isn't the presence of one really good game, but as a nexus of indie games I can quickly try and go through. I played many early versions of Spelunky well before it became big through word-of-mouth. POWDER isn't a massive commercial hit with tons of attention or press, but I've spent many fun hours with it. OUYA presents this one place where I can go through a ton of games to find gems like these; I don't have to worry about THE killer app if I can find MY killer apps.
Overall, as a person who plays lots of indie games and watches StarCraft 2, I see potential in OUYA, even if it can only deliver on half of its promises. The deeply scathing and cynical judgment you've passed is not only undeserved, but actively hurts it, which is pretty sad.
First of all, you claim that my criticism of the 'all games are free to play' promotional claim is a cynical and skewed view of indie games. Nothing could be further from the truth, and suggests that you skimmed over my post instead of reading it. I am specifically referring to the modern free-to-play game model - in which virtually all games rely on this kind of manipulation because better models have, at the very least, not been developed yet - or if they have been developed, they are not being used because they are less profitable than exploiting "whales" that are willing to pay thousands of dollars a month. Instead, you respond by claiming that indie games are awesome. Great. How are those indie devs going to make money if all the games on Ouya are free to play?
An alternative explanation for 'all games are free to play' is that all the games have trials. Great. Know what platform does that already? XBox Live Arcade. Are all XBox games free to play now too?
Assuming OUYA will be exactly like past consoles is foolish. It's different in one significant way: It's on Kickstarter. To say that this will have no effect on the Kickstarter service if it fails is naive. Sure, you can say that Kickstarter's terms of service will protect them (I think this is probably true), but the people who fronted $100 or more to get a console will not be happy if things don't turn out as promised.
I never questioned that something like the OUYA is worthwhile, I questioned whether the $99 price point was realistic. You could certainly deliver it at a price point of $199 or $299, but at that point you've now gone back on one of the central promises of your marketing campaign. When the press talks about OUYA, they talk about the '$99 console'. This is not a minor detail! And if you really just want it to watch twitch.tv streams, there are much cheaper ways to do that - it needs to present a compelling, complete ecosystem.
Saying that major design oversights like insufficient storage space 'can and may well be fixed' is missing the point: The specs they currently promise are basically what you are paying for if you donate $99 - you can certainly ask them to improve it, but they are of no obligation if you decide the current specs are enough to get your money. Addressing these problems would impair their ability to deliver at their current price point, and as I've said above, increasing the price point is risky now that they've already accepted donations from backers.
If they had put this console design out to various developers for feedback, they would likely have gotten lots of useful feedback along the lines of mine with far reduced (if nonexistent) cynicism. In my case, I would have gladly given them the same feedback plus more, and been very positive about it.
Instead, they listed a bunch of 'big name' android games in their marketing, when in some cases - Mojang, for example, as noted in the Kotaku story - they hadn't even contacted those developers in the first place. Sure, they have beaming quotes on their kickstarter page from real developers - but all those quotes say is 'this is a great idea, we might consider building games for it'. This is an utter failure of community management and developer relations, plain and simple.
You can say the controller is a prototype - someone says that it appears they actually do have button labels based on some promotional app screenshots - but even so, it's again a question of whether they're actually serious and prepared: These prototype shots are the thing they're trying to get you to pay $99 up front for. Why would a colorblind person pay up front for a controller he can't use effectively in the hopes that maybe the developer will fix the design? Are the screenshots clearly labelled "prototype not representative of actual product"? No.
It may be true that they never use the words Android Market, but they certainly push hard on the fact that it is a hackable android console and all the games they showed off in those promo screenshots are android games from the Android Market. If they don't have Android Market shipping on their console, the only other ways to get those games on the console are to make deals with the developers (as noted above, this does not appear to have happened) or to encourage people to pirate the .apks and install them manually.
And to quote the Kotaku article again (because it's one of the first detailed articles that showed up about Ouya):
"The Ouya team assumes that they'll simply be awash in, at worst, top Android games. Uhrman doesn't want to settle for that. She wants to use part of the funding for the new console to fund the development of games."
I'm not even going to pass a judgement on whether OUYA has a killer app or not. The two games you mention do not have Android versions you could install manually on the device (with or without market), so I don't see why you think they will work on the device out of the box. In the case of Spelunky, your only bet would be to hope that someone ports the original Game Maker version of the game to Android and releases it in a version that you can install on your Ouya.
I agree that the console has lots of potential. I think they're squandering a lot of that potential through early marketing and clueless developer relations, and people are letting them get away with it - to the detriment of both sides.
My only intent was to present "the other side" of what people see in this, never to prove that you were "wrong" or "irrational" just for disagreeing with others. You're absolutely free to not like this. Pretty much all the concerns you raise about OUYA itself are spot on, and they'll need to have answers to those if they want a good shot at success.
I spent a good hour just reading your two original comments (not counting time spent writing the reply) to really understand your points as much as possible, so I could write a reply that would make you go "ah, I see what people see in this now". I gave you as much the benefit of the doubt as I could, so it really shakes me up that after all that effort, you take my points, twist them to make me look like a fool and use them to reinforce the one core point which I agree with you on: that there are a lot of practical issues that need to be addressed before this has a good shot at success.
I tried to give a reply you'd really appreciate and you punched me in the gut with it. I'm sorry for responding. :(
EDIT: I just read your newest reply properly (I couldn't do that before because of how upsetting it was to me); I just realized you're coming from a this-is-how-it-should-be-marketed viewpoint, while I'm coming strictly from a how-much-would-I-want-this viewpoint. My comments were just points on why people like the idea and want it to succeed, not on their marketing and relations; I'm no expert on either field and as such I have no desire to critique them. Looks like we were just talking on two different wavelengths; a simple misunderstanding.
I'm the sort of guy who automatically assumes marketing and advertising makes claims that are too good to be true, so I'm not fussed when they don't all pan out as 'promised'.
And surely they'll have to bump it again or introduce a new level; they're already back down to 800 remaining (currently out of 10,000), still with 29 days to go. The $99 pledge level wasn't even in there initially; I think they were expecting the bulk of their pledges to come from low-end pledges where people reserve a username. They're also out of etched boxes ($225 level) and even most of the developer specials ($700) are gone.
Considering that at first they had just enough slots to reach their goal I think they are managing the launch to maximize unit sales and hype.
What I am surprised about is that they did not raise the price above $99 with the second top up (20,000 @ $99). Thus $99 must not be a below cost loss leader. My guess is that they will offer as many $99 units as possible. Their balancing act is to offer an unbounded number of units while maintaining the air of exclusivity. Offer too many units at one time and people might thing they are missing their sales target.
With this much hype and sales they should have decent leverage with developers. I got the impression that a few developers they talked to were on the fence. Their first update could be interesting.
Underpowered? I think not. Look at Nintendo DS: 67mhz Arm9. Who cares? Only developers because it's a pain in the butt to program for the thing. Other than that it delivers fun games and prints money(or so the meme says).
Quad core and an easy API seem like 1000x a better choice than a ps3 with 8 cores, a not so easy api, and a 10,000usd dev kit.
Yes, graphics won't compete with the next gen games, but there's more to a game than eye candy.
I almost never give to fundraisers online but I've dropped several hundred on this - that's how much I believe we sorely need a popular, open, indie-oriented gaming device that isn't a regular PC. (And before anyone scoffs, remember Diaspora?)
Will OUYA be the one to pull it off? With some skin in the game I'm hoping so, but the key thing to pick up from their copy is how strongly they're looking for validation rather than just money. So even if you think their implementation is lame at the moment, if you believe in the idea of an indie console, I'd encourage you to give the $10 just to boost the backer count (which I think is more important in the long run). And I'd encourage them to add a lower donation tier for exactly this reason too..
1) Developers will probably not make any money on games for it. Its a problem for Android too. Many good iOS games will never be ported over to Android because of this. And some developers have left Android after products didn't make any money. Its a culture problem, plus pirates made it a terrible market to make money
2) Open system easy to hack, its going to rub FPS multi-player games useless. Its already killing the PC gaming of that type.
3) Licenses and patents, and honestly I can't see those specs being sold at that $99 price tag period.
4) Lack of marketing ability to attract the players to make the market large enough to attract developers
5) The few open source titles that are decent games are so late 1990's quality in graphics. Though graphics are very highly over rated, game play is much more important and there just isn't that many with great game play.
6) Intense pressure from Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo will knock it down in lawsuits if it ever did gain traction. Or just out right buy the company to kill it.
7) As mobile phones continue to push the envelope in performance, the few good games it might be able to offer will evolve around those more powerful phones and will probably leave that thing in the dust with ability to play games a year or 2 down the road. Mobile gaming ability and phone power is increasing exponentially, unlike the slow pace of desktops which had that kind of growth a decade ago.
8) When they do start having to make good money to solve these problems, to cover costs of the machine, litigation's, patients, paying developers to make games worthy enough to attract paying customers, the very people it cater to that nitch Linux Open blah blah group will turn away from it.
This is why desktop gaming has always been the domain of Windows PC's, and for mobile its the domain of iOS and for portable its still a nice race between Sony and Nintendo, both of which is hurting over iOS gaming.
Hopefully Google will allow them access to the Play Store, otherwise devs will have to repackage the apps for Ouya, which I'm sure it's not going to be a huge deal if this thing takes off. But it would be a nice gesture from Google, and it would be in their interest, too, especially if they have no plans of doing the same thing with Google TV set top boxes.
On a perfect world, they'd get a special partnership with google to get an extra OUYA tab to the play store. For OUYA dedicated games, which would show on OUYA devices and pay OUYA developers with that. Even if google would sacrifice their 30% for it. It still seems like this would be the ideal deal for all parties: users, developers, google and ouya.
From the standpoint of their ultimate success, the key is their installed base. If they have say 20k or 30k machines out there, will developers care enough to target them?
It wouldn't matter if they were just another Android platform, they'll have Android games from the mass market. But if they plan to make money off revenue sharing with devs, they gotta have the machines out there.
I'm impressed that they're going to get this thing done, I just hope the get enough made to survive.
Cool project, but at $99 for a console and controller they must be operating at a loss, right? Does anyone have any insight into production costs of something like this? It could change the way we think about the "amount raised".
The RaspberryPi is NOT selling at a loss for $35. Neither is the AppleTV at $100 (or $80, which you can find new every other week on eBay). Nor are the Roku boxes that sell at $50-$100 for 720p-1080p playback and many, many others. Neither, for that matter, is the Huawei Android 3G phone at $80.
It can even be profitable at $100, if (and that's a huge if) they know what they are doing.
No need to yell beagle (or was that a Borat impression). I am simply curious about how much a device like this would cost a small company to build per unit on a first run. AppleTV isn't a fair comparison given the efficiencies of scale and what not, nor is it running video games as far as I know. And while I don't know much about RaspberryPi, their website states that the "graphics capabilities are roughly equivalent to Xbox 1 level of performance" which I imagine Ouya is trying to exceed. Moreover, RaspberryPi doesn't come with a fancy shell or a controller.