New model would need to feel 'justified'
Speaking to OUYA CEO Julie Uhrman at E3, I got the latest word on how the Android-based console will evolve as technology advances and it becomes time for a new model.
"We're always seeking feedback and advice from both gamers and developers," said Uhrman. "We will never be final; it always gets better so that we can incorporate changes into our software and into our hardware months and years to come.
"We always want to be on the best processing chip and offer the best experience to gamers. Our refresh will be much more similar to that of mobile than to traditional consoles," she explained. "We want to leverage the best chips, we want to leverage the falling prices of commodity components. But we want to make sure that when we do so there are enough games that are optimized for that technology so that it's justified and you can really show off the difference."
We've hit on the subject here before but with Steam Greenlight taking criticism for not being where some players, developers, and even Valve itself would like the platform to be, the topic of curation kept coming up in our talk.
"We think about curation very differently than other app stores," stated Uhrman. "We don't focus on revenue or downloads which are the two most common. We focus on what we call the 'fun factor,' which are engagement-based metrics. So how often you play a game in a certain period of time, how many times was it the first game that you played when you turned on OUYA, how many thumbs up does it have, how many friends have you told about it -- that all goes into our 'O Rank.'"
Continuing, Uhrman says "there's no silver bullet. There's no one way to do it. So we actually think of it four different ways. We take Kellee [Santiago, formerly of thatgamecompany, now head of developer relations at OUYA] who built games and knows developers -- she curates content. Then we have external curators that tell us what they think their favorite games are.
"We do the traditional way; you want to search by genre, you can do that. The last thing we do is this idea of the sandbox. Every game that gets approved and lives on OUYA immediately goes in the sandbox first. It has to meet that minimal level of fun, it has to have that minimal level of engagement with gamers before the title gets ejected out of the sandbox."
I fully agree that there is no simple solution to attracting good, interesting games and making it easy for players to find exactly what they want once the library becomes massive. Right now, OUYA has around 135 games. We'll have to wait and see how this strategy pans out as that number grows.