Σάββατο, 30 Μαρτίου 2013

Kickstarted Video Game Console Gets Ready for Debut


The next Super Nintendo or the next Atari Jaguar?A new video game console is
about to hit the stores, and it’s not produced by Sony, Microsoft
or Nintendo, the current gorillas dominating the market.


Ouya, a much more modest $99
console, running off Android’s operating system, will be hitting
the market in June and will be available in stores like Target and
Best Buy.


The launch of Ouya will mark the culmination of an interesting
experiment. The completion of the console’s development and release
was paid for via a Kickstarter campaign that drew in $8.5 million
in donations. Kickstarter campaigns have been successful in helping
fund products and artistic ventures. But as gamers know, the days
of a console being just a product are long over. Game consoles also
now provide persistent services. Games can be purchased and
downloaded via console these days, as can rentals of movies and
television shows.  


Ouya’s challenge will be not just getting the console into
gamers’ hands, but in being able to continue to operate an online
market given its economically modest origins. I
wrote
about Ouya back in August and the skepticism over whether
such a business model could possibly succeed.


Chris Kohler at Wired got his
hands on the console
in San Francisco just recently. It
obviously is not going to be competing with the Xbox or the
Playstation for the high-end games, but that’s absolutely not the
point of the system. Rather, it intends to be an avenue for
smaller-game developers to more easily find an audience. Because of
the huge boom of indie game development, the success of the system
will depend on the ability for creators to use their marketplace
and the ease of consumers in connecting to the types of games
they’d like. Kohler notes the system Ouya will be using for its
marketplace incorporates both an algorithm and human curation:



It’s common knowledge in the world of iOS apps that you get
noticed in one of two ways: Get featured in the store via Apple’s
secretive process of internal curation, or (by hook or by crook)
get onto the top-grossing or most-downloaded charts.


“We don’t think downloads or revenue are good indicators of what
a good game is,” [Ouya CEO Julie] Uhrman says. To that end, Ouya is
crafting its own automatic algorithm that will determine whether or
not a game is any good, based on other players’ behaviors. How many
times have they played it? For how long are they playing it? When a
player turns on their Ouya, is it the first game they immediately
boot up? All of these factors will influence how prominently games
are positioned in the Ouya marketplace when a player clicks on
“Discover.”


There will also be an element of hand-picked curation on Ouya.
That process, Uhrman says, will be led by Kellee Santiago,
co-founder Journey creator thatgamecompany and now Ouya’s
head of developer relations. All new games will go into an area
called the “Sandbox,” and will be pulled up into the “Recommended”
feed after they hit the jackpot on the automated fun algorithm, or
are selected by Santiago’s team.



There’s still plenty of skepticism among gamers that Ouya’s
business model can actually work (just read the comments under
Kohler’s story). Portability and simplicity has contributed to the
success of mobile phone gaming apps. Do people really want to play
such games on their televisions? We will find out beginning in
June. For the curious, PC Magazine has a
slide show
of some games that will be available at launch via
Ouya.


Even if Ouya fails, console developers will likely learn a lot
about building economic systems that accommodate the ever-changing
nature of the gaming marketplace.

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