All the way back in the Summer of 2012, the Ouya took the world by storm. The promise was to release a modestly priced micro console, the first of its kind, that anyone could develop for. Their Kickstarter campaign quickly blew passed its goal and raised over $8million.
But it was not all roses and sunshine. The Ouya quickly caught the ire of those in the more “hardcore” gamer persuasion. They lambasted the system for its “under powered” hardware and the fact that it ran on an Android operating system, an OS typically used by hated “casual” gamers. But not all controversy was this kind of trumped up BS. The makers of the console created a number of controversies of their own.
The first big controversy was the delay in getting the system out. This wasn’t an unexpected development, but it was poorly handled. People promised early consoles received them late and Ouya didn’t communicate properly with them. On top of that, early controllers had several hardware flaws leading to a poor consumer reception. Among them was poor connectivity between the controllers and the console as well as ill fitting faceplates causing extreme friction on the buttons resulting in them often getting stuck.
They also had several marketing flubs as well. One big one was a poorly thought out video which lampooned hardcore gaming culture in the style of old Ren and Stimpy cartoons. This video was quickly taken down but remains a dark stain on their public relations.
When it was becoming clear that developers were starting to be wary of the machine, Ouya took steps to attract and keep developers releasing on their console. One step was to reverse a major promise made during the Kickstarter, that every game would have some kind of free portion that all console owners could try before they decide to buy. Ouya reversed that promise and allowed developers to make the choice for themselves.
The next big effort was the Free the Games Fund, $1million in matching funds pledged to crowdfunding campaigns that promised Ouya exclusivity for a period of at least 6 months. This program was not well received by gamers, just as most exclusivity deals are not, and it was broiled in controversy over scams designed to take advantage of the program while not delivering a game that was worth while. While Ouya took steps to correct some of these issues, the funds didn’t attract many decent games. (Full disclosure, E. Zachary Knight’s game company Divine Knight Gaming launched an unsuccessful crowdfunding campaign seeking these matching funds.)
After years of tough effort to make a dent in the market, Ouya eventual sold its hardware and online store to Razer. Razer made promises to keep the store alive and to honor any funds promised by the Free The Games Fund. However, shortly after purchasing Ouya, Razer went silent.
Yesterday, Razer sent an email announcing that it would end the Ouya store as well as its Forge TV service and the MadCatz Mojo game stores.
We would like to inform you that the Forge TV Games store and OUYA service will cease operations on 6-25-2019.
This email serves as notice of termination of the Marketplace Agreement, in accordance with section 9 of the agreement, with effect on 5-25-2019.
Thank you for the support which you have extended us these past years. It has been a privilege to have worked with you and to have had you as part of our community.
As of June 25, 2019 all services will shut down. According to an online FAQ, any games users of these services own must be downloaded locally or they will be denied access to them. Any games that require purchase authentication to operate will also be inaccessible unless the developers take action to patch them.
While I loved the concept of the Ouya and the games I purchased on the system, I am not surprised by this move. The system hasn’t received an update or a new release in years. It was a valiant effort on their part, and perhaps if it was released today in the wake of micro consoles from Nintendo, Sony, and Sega it would have been more successful. As it is, it will simply remain a footnote in gaming history.
So long Ouya. Thanks for the memories.