Consoling OUYA

OUYA‘s founder Julie Uhrman provided one of the most controversial keynote panels at SXSW. If you happened to sleep through most of 2012, OUYA leapt to fame last year for its hugely successful call for funds on Kickstarter.com. Looking for $950,000 in crowd funding, at $99 for each pre-order, OUYA hit $1,000,000 within eight hours and 16 minutes, and eventually raised $8.6 million.

However, OUYA’s founder Julie Uhrman was highly evasive in her interview with The Verge‘s Josh Topolsky. For a start, she wouldn’t name manufacturing partners or the number of presold OUYA consoles. She didn’t provide a firm general release date for the product, either, other than saying it would be sometime in June, although Kickstarter buyers will get their devices on March 28th. She also didn’t fight back very convincingly when Topolsky brought up the persistent rumours that OUYA was actually a scam, because they didn’t actually have a functional website for the Kickstarter launch.

The worst disappointment was that Uhrman didn’t manage to explain why OUYA wasn’t just another games console, even if it is a cheap one. After all, despite the cute design and custom touchpad-sporting controller, the OUYA is still essentially a NVIDIA Tegra 3-powered Android device, which any other company could replicate. The keynote audience commented with their feet, and the huge Hall 5 room was half empty by the end. Uhrman did claim that 7,000 developers were on board, and that the extra money they had from Kickstarter was allowing OUYA to create a unique developer community. But, with the announcement that OnLive would be available on OUYA, perhaps the message is that console hardware is becoming far less important than the content available for it.

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