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'.