Ouya, the Android-based gaming console, is dead

Well, we've come to the end of the road for Ouya, the little Android-powered game console that got its start on Kickstarter. It was one of the early success stories of Kickstarter; the project's goal was $950,000 and they brought in over $8 million. That was a big deal at the time (August 2012).

Unfortunately that was probably the high point for the company. It took a long time to get the console to backers and the early units had some issues with build quality. The hype of the Kickstarter campaign fizzled as mediocre reviews hit the Internet. When Ouya finally hit retail it landed like a lead balloon and never really went anywhere.

Now CEO Julie Uhrman has stepped down and Razer has confirmed that it has purchased the software, storefront and technical staff of the company. The brand will live on through Razer, at least for now, but the hardware is gone. If you try to purchase an Ouya from http://shop.ouya.tv/ you'll see it is listed as out of stock.

So, another orphaned console to go into my collection. There's some good news though. Razor, who makes its own Android console, the Forge TV, says 

In the near future, Razer will be providing existing OUYA users with a clear path of migration to the more advanced Forge TV micro-console and Serval controller bundle. Razer’s intention is to allow OUYA users to bring their games, controllers, and accounts to the Cortex TV platform on the Forge micro-console, advancing the experience of Android gaming on TV that they have previously enjoyed. Additionally, Razer is planning deep product discounts for incoming OUYA users to purchase Razer hardware, and a spate of freebies, giveaways, and promotions to enjoy on their new Forge consoles.

TechCrunch quotes Razer CEO Min-Liang Tan as saying "There are about 200,000 users on the OUYA platform and for the hardware users, we intend to, out of goodwill (as we didn’t acquire the hardware assets), keep the lights on for their gaming service for at least 12 months as we encourage them to migrate to the Razer service which will have a lot more features, new content and new games."

Only 200,000 users? Ouch.

Eventually the plan is to integrate the Ouya store into the Razer Cortex gaming system that powers their Forge TV Android console. In other words you've got a year to enjoy the Ouya service on your Ouya console, but eventually you and your games will get moved to Cortex and you'll need a Forge TV to take advantage of it.

The good news is that the controller that came with your Ouya should work with Forge TV, so it's not a total loss. Considering Razor sells the Serval controller for the Forge TV for $79.99, re-purposing the Ouya controller is saving you quite a bit.

I was an Ouya Kickstarter backer and early fan of the device, but found that in practice I didn't really want to play Android titles on my TV, at least not when I had plenty to play on traditional (but significantly more expensive) gaming consoles. I still think there's a niche that could be nicely served by these devices: households that aren't willing to spend $300+ for a console and $60 per game, but that still want a casual gaming system. The challenge, I suppose, is making that market segment aware that there is a console aimed at them.

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