Near the end of August I got a message via linkedin from an Amazon representative wanting to discuss the possibility of getting me to put Super Pixalo (The game I released on OUYA this past spring) on the FireTV.
I’m not one to pass on an opportunity without at least some small amount of exploration so I asked for a bit more information and we set up a call. The guy I talked to was named John and he was enthusiastic and personable. He said he had an OUYA and had played Super Pixalo and really enjoyed it. He said it was the type of game that Amazon wanted on their console. So far, so good!
I chuckled at his comment about “one of the three people who have an OUYA” and said he had his numbers a bit off. I think there’s a bit more than 3 people, wouldn’t you say?
He went on to tell me the goals for the FireTV and we discussed a number of topics that I will highlight and discuss below that I see are relevant. Please remember that I’m discussing from memory, and this is just my point of view.
Blind Testing: During our conversation I mentioned that I didn’t want to just send an APK to them and have them list what I needed to change in order for it to run with their IAP system and whatnot. I appreciate that they offer this, but I don’t like it for my games. I’m no Alexey Pajitnov but I’m not in game dev to just throw my work to whoever will put it in their game library. I need to be happy with how my game runs, responds, and feels on ANY platform. Even if other gamers don’t agree with my controller sensitivity settings, my aesthetic choices, or level design, each of those things take weeks and months for me to be really happy with. I’m completely happy with how Super Pixalo turned out. So I want to make sure I can continue to be as proud as possible when I release it on any platform.
In short, I asked for a console to even just borrow, or test in a store, as I don’t have the need to go spend 140 for a FireTV and controller that I don’t need. I use my PS3 to play movies and my OUYA to game. Heck I even run netflix on my OUYA. John said, even after a second request in an email that providing me with a FireTV to test on was just not possible or within Amazon’s resources.
Gaming isn’t the Focus: The other major hesitation I have is that the FireTV isn’t focused on games. According to John, they are actively trying to change that impressing (including hosting game jams on the west coast), but their library only has 300 games. Thier console doesn’t come with a controller (the remote does NOT count as a usable gamepad in my book. That’s like TI selling calculators that also function as mobile gaming stations) and you may have to, if the device is anything like Amazon’s Kindle Fire, pay a yearly fee to watch Amazon Prime instant video content. To me, I want to put my games on OUYA and itch.io. Yes, both are not mass/generic audience devices like Xbox or Nintendo’s devices. But both are specific to a niche that loves being a niche. When I get on my OUYA I get to play games made by other game creators who love video games. I don’t have to sift through hundreds of poorly designed in-app purchase crazed money vacuums because that’s not what will make a game trend on the OUYA.
I shared both of these concerns both in the call and the followup message to John. I think he understands and I felt like I left it on a positive note. No, FireTV won’t be seeing Super Pixalo anytime soon as I just don’t see the value of the FireTV personally. If I get sent a device, that might change but I was told multiple times that having that happen was not in my cards.
But all this was not in vain. I felt like it made me really appreciate what I love about the OUYA. So let me transition into explaining why I’m ALWAYS talking about my OUYA and other OUYA devs.
OUYA is about family. It’s about a close, welcoming, inviting, game developer and game player community that fosters appreciation, creativity and opportunity. If it was not for the OUYA, I’d still just be making the occasional HTML5 game dreaming of putting one of my games on a console with a controller. The OUYA made that dream come true!
Every week the OUYA team (Tim, Bawb and Alex) will live stream a dev session to talk about games, putting your game on the console, and more recently how to make games. Who does that? OUYA does.
The OUYAForum.com community is amazing! Rioting Spectre, Kaimega, Killswitch, and Drunkpunk are always ready to welcome any newcomer to the ranks!
The OUYA Brew and OUYA Central podcast every week is both hilarious and extremely informative. They welcome devs on the show at any time to talk about aspirations to opinions on OUYAs business moves.
Oh yeah, that reminds me, one of the best things about OUYA and it’s community is it’s very human. The company has made mistakes and is learning from them. The community isn’t afraid to call out what they see as either harmful to devs or harmful to gamers. Recently OUYA has announced adding community content to their system and I see this as removing the wall that any console might have with their audience.
Don’t get me wrong, there are things I don’t like. I still think games should be required to have a free to try option. I think the website needs a major overhaul… especially the frontpage and the getting to the dev area :cough cough:
But the OUYA, to me, is about something important to any game dev and gamer: It’s about making it as easy as possible for anyone to create games, and get them on the tv screens of gamers who want to play them. It’s like the netflix for games, except you don’t have to pay monthly for it. Pay $100 bucks up front, controller included, and you’re good to go. I should mention that you DO have to pay for the games individually but most games allow you to try a demo first.
I can’t honestly see a huge company like Amazon creating such an open, learning, and flexible product and community like OUYA has. I think people forget that OUYA has about 50 people behind the scenes. 50 people. Not thousands, not hundreds. And they’ve been able to at least create a product that so many people can relate to and love.
Anyhow, enough OUYAvangelism. Time to go play Towerfall, Speed Rush and some Paragon Infinite on my OUYA.