Ouya was a Kickstarter funded Android-based games microconsole launched in 2013. Next week it will be history, as well as its games.
The device was an early Kickstarter crowdfunding success collecting 8,5 million dollars from the public. The system never managed to gather much interest from game development companies, but it was a very open system encouraging anyone to try their skills in game development. Ouya’s honeymoon with the gamers and game developers was short lived, though, and now its servers are about to go down.
Ouya’s games were distributed digitally and later relied on server based activation. As the servers will be shut down on June 25 all Ouya games downloads will be disabled. Also a large portion of the Ouya games, including most of the games purchased and installed on the consoles, will be gone as those cannot be launched anymore.
The only games that remain playable are the ones that do not require a purchase validation upon launch. Also some free-to-try trial versions of the games may work. But all game downloads will be disabled, forever.
Ouya’s games are mostly poorly known and didn’t sell much. The best-selling hit TowerFall was reported to sell 7,000 copies within the first year. Ouya’s commercial game library reportedly contains numerous games that haven’t sold at all, not a single copy. Yet there are unique gems or historically interesting pieces by indie developer and amateurs, thanks to its openness. Almost anyone could make a game and many did.
“Since the barrier for indie developers was so low, there were a lot of very small games and one-developer projects. We find these tiny projects fascinating. They’re very personal in nature, even if the game looks silly and was probably done in a few afternoons”, tells the amateur video game historian Vojtěch Straka.
Straka tries to preserve the Ouya games, saving a strange corner of video gaming history from oblivion.
The short history of Ouya reminds us of the sometimes very short life cycle of gaming systems, as well as the difficulty of preserving their legacy.
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