Could OUYA lose the battle before it even begins?
I'll be honest, when the OUYA was first announced, I was one of its biggest supporters. I mean, a system that's dedicated to the independent developer, one that's easy to make games for and lets you modify it however you see fit? And with the option to try them out before buying? I jumped right into the KickStarter without hesitation, wondering what could be next.
But lately…I'm not so sure. It's hard to tell exactly at what point my faith in the independent company began to waiver, but waiver it has, and now I'm left wondering just what happened to my purchase.
Granted, this isn't a matter of Sony wowing me with PlayStation 4 technology, or some other bold competitor coming forward and stunning me with their own game. This is a matter of errors. No, scratch that – vital mistakes. Mistakes that, sadly, could very well cost OUYA the fight before it even kicks off this June.
But I have my reasons, so let's go over each one, shall we?
There's no guarantee on delivery of system
First off, when users flocked to get their hands on an OUYA system, the KickStarter program listed that we would get them the last week of March. So we waited…and waited. And here it is, into the second week of April, and still nothing. Some people, like the ones who were able to get them at the launch party, have them, but others are left wondering just when they'll arrive.
And OUYA's vague estimate doesn't help either. "It'll arrive sometime in April or May," or so it reads. No estimated time of shipment, despite the promise of late March. Talk about being left behind.
Another thing – it was kind of rude for staff to deny those who invested money in a system to not have the option to pick it up at the OUYA launch party that took place a week and a half ago at GDC. It was only for a select few to come and get their packages, while the others have to wait for the non-existent shipments. So…I paid for something and apparently don't seem to be getting it anytime soon. Great. Onto the next thing.
Early KickStarter backers aren't getting the "actual" system
So here's something that really bugs me. Apparently those who invested in getting an early OUYA system aren't, in fact, getting the street model that arrives in June. We learned this following feedback from early reviews for the unit, which a lucky few managed to get their hands on last week. Responding to a review by The Verge, an OUYA rep stated that the hardware being shipped isn't based on "final" specs, and that the system would be different in June.
Which is great unless, of course, you invested your money in an early model. OUYA left its backers high and dry, not only shipping out units late, but buggy models without any sort of promise of replacement or upgrade. It sounds riskier than the KickStarter initially foretold, leaving me wondering just what I paid for. You know, when it arrives.
Where are the games?
Though the OUYA network does have a fairly good amount of games available, as you saw from my hands-on with the unit, there's a significant amount of powerhouse titles missing. Sure, you can play The Pinball Arcade and Final Fantasy III, along with original games like Gunslugs, but most of the titles are forgettable indie fare, and games you've played in the past.
And for some strange reason, the system is also home to classic game emulators. You can play NES and N64 games through downloadable emulators on the OUYA, which is something that's bound to get Nintendo's attention sooner or later. We're not saying classic games are a bad thing, but when you buy a new piece of hardware, you expect new experiences to come with them, not relive games you've already mastered.
And now the final thing…
You're required to register a credit card
This is probably the thing that bugs me the most. In order to download any sort of fare onto your OUYA, be it demos or full games, you're required – and there's no way around it – to register your credit card information. This is a questionable tactic, not only because of the way hackers can modify the OUYA (and possibly access your information), but also because there's no guarantee with the network's security in general.
But there's more. Apparently the interface of the OUYA runs so poorly that it's easy to make purchases by accident – at least, according to The Verge's scathing review of the product. And we've heard rumors, though unconfirmed at the moment, that some developers will be able to eke out funds regardless if you purchase the game or not. OUYA hasn't responded to my inquiries about that matter, so I'm fearing the worst.
And that's another thing – OUYA's customer service isn't really registering. I've emailed them on a number of instances regarding these questions, and gotten no response. Same goes for their official Twitter profile, @playouya, in which they simply encourage play and don't really address the problems at hand. Again, another point for concern.
The good news is, OUYA still has time to address these matters and correct them. Cut back on the credit card requirement, make good on those loyal KickStarter backers who invested so much to help you get off the ground in the first place, and make room for more diverse games, rather than just emulators and stuff we could get elsewhere. This is a key opportunity for the company to really push and make something spectacular happen in June. Because, honestly, if they can't, they may have lost the battle before it even commences.
Fix it, OUYA. Like now.