There have been many monoliths in the world of gaming, especially in the world of hardware development. One can’t go through the history of video games without giving credit to the likes of Nintendo and Sega, true pioneers of the industry. In the same breath, today’s console-making juggernauts like Sony and Microsoft, who had branched into gaming from other tech industries, have also had a hand in shaping the gaming world today. Frankly, these giants can never be toppled today, which is why not many dare even try and instead would be content with building imaginative games for their systems instead.
“The little box inside this box has big dreams. And so begins the revolution.”
This was present in the packaging of the tiny console known as the Ouya. It wasn’t a powerhouse like the PlayStation or the Xbox. Instead, it was small in stature but it promised it would be big on games. In its marketing campaign, Ouya promised more than 600 games inside each unit. The people in charge at making Ouya happen, under the watchful eye of its founder Julie Uhrman, wanted to revolutionize the gaming industry in its own way.
With that in mind, they managed to acquire a total of 8.5 million dollars in its Kickstarter campaign. 63,416 backers pledged money to help make this dream of theirs a reality. But instead of changing the landscape of games forever, it became a laughingstock.
The Ouya was a colossal failure, and unlike most flops in the gaming world, their story was actually due to a lack of trying. It was a flimsy device running a simple Android-based operating system. It did not boast anything as powerful as modern-day consoles, and for that the potential of the Ouya had already hit a wall even before it could be fully realized. It boasted more than 600 games in its promotional campaign, and yet all it had were below-average offerings that could be easily found the bottom of the barrel in the Google Play Store.
The cherry on top when it came to their marketing was an ad that had the tagline “Stop wasting cash on crappy games.” It reinforced a negative stereotype of gamers, with the commercial featuring a middle-aged man in his underwear throwing a temper tantrum. The ad showed contempt towards the fan base it so desperately wanted to reach. Who knows who the Ouya was targeting when it came to the production of this ad? In reality, the Ouya ended up pointing its finger at itself, encouraging everyone to laugh at it.
Even with all the Kickstarter money it generated, the Ouya had flimsy hardware, with a controller that would show signs of wear and tear merely days upon use. Combine this with the lack of true gaming options, and it became the butt of every joke. Three years after its conceptualization, the Ouya’s assets were sold to the PC peripheral company Razer, and the Ouya brand has been quietly laid to rest since then.
For all its talk about changing the world of video games, the Ouya did next to nothing. With a laundry list of mistakes, shortcomings and blunders, the little box that couldn’t is now nothing more than a footnote in gaming history and will be a perennial inclusion in “worst of” lists for the years to come. The Ouya shows us that while it’s more than okay to believe in yourself and dream big, just make sure not to emulate them and punch well above your weight.