Last week, Ouya CEO Julie Uhrman told The Verge that only 27 percent of the new console’s owners have paid for a game. While many tech writers and gaming industry pundits questioned Ouya’s ability to turn a profit on downloadable software, Uhrman maintained an optimistic outlook for the future of the crowd-funded console.
“Monetization on Ouya is so far better than we expected,” Uhrman said in an interview with The Verge. “It takes time to build what traditional consoles have had decades to build … I think it's too early to draw such broad sweeping statements about how a platform is going to perform.”
Ouya’s current game policy dictates that every game must have a “free element,” which usually means that the game is free to play (with in-app purchases) or has a playable demo. Traditional consoles, like Xbox and Playstation, have always charged for physical disks, and more recently, direct downloads from their corresponding online marketplaces.Enjoying this article? Click here to subscribe for full access. Just $5 a month.
Another thing that Ouya lacks, compared to the big-name consoles, is exclusive content. People buy a Nintendo console for games starring Mario and Link, knowing that Super Mario Bros. and Zelda are Nintendo-only property. Ouya doesn’t have any exclusive titles just yet – but they’re trying.
“[Ouya’s] developer-aimed ‘Free the Games Fund’ will dole out $1 million to eligible Ouya game projects that launch on Kickstarter between August 9, 2013 and August 10, 2014,” said All Things D. “The projects can ask for whatever amount they want, but if they meet their Kickstarter goals and raise at least $50,000, Ouya is pledging to match every dollar raised beyond that amount, up to $250,000.”
As far as developer’s profits are concerned, Ouya might not be the most attractive platform for making games. Uhrman said that the console’s biggest hit so far is called TowerFall, developed my Matt Thorson. The game sells on the Ouya marketplace for $14.99 and has netted Thorson about $21,000 since its launch (after Ouya’s 30 percent commission). The next runner up, Hidden in Plain Sight, has earned less than $4,400 for its creator.
While some developers may be skeptical about the future of Ouya, Uhrman is pleased with the numbers and points out the console’s very short time on the market.
“To say developers can't make money on Ouya – I take offense to that. I’m sure the creators of TowerFall and Hidden in Plain Sight would take offense to that,” Uhrman said. “The console has only been out for a month, and developers have only had access to the hardware for about six months. We really like what we see so far, and so do developers and gamers.”
She added: “If every company that got mixed results right out of the gate would have given up, we wouldn't have an iPhone, we wouldn't have an iPod.”