REVIEW OF THE YEAR: What does Ouya teach us?

So if games that review averagely continue to sell by the millions and plenty of critical hits continue to fall by the wayside, what does that tell us? That consumers are stupid? Or that critics are rather out of touch with their audiences? Or maybe that reasoned opinion counts for sod all compared to the sheer might of the marketing dollar?

Either way, Ouya’s open-source Android-based philosophy was heralded as a brave new dawn for video games ahead of the machine’s arrival in June. Outlets simply couldn’t wait for a humble 99.99 device to arrive and shatter the bloated walled-gardens of those evil corporate console bastards.

And at the very least Ouya certainly arrived.

No one would reasonably question the motives and commitment of Ouya boss Julie Uhrman and certainly some open-source competition for the big boys would be healthy for what has become quite an entrenched console ecosystem.

But the fact remains that consumers largely didn’t care in June and there’s little sign of them caring now. There are loads of reasons why that may or may not be, of course. The lack of notable software exclusives. The cheap barely usable gamepad. An arguably corrupt financial incentive scheme for devs. The fact that while Android’s games library is rather large the vast majority of those games are developed for touchscreens.

While Ouya itself seems increasingly destined to fade into obscurity and become little more than an interesting side note in a future Steven Poole essay, it could yet be that its arrival at retail (although perhaps less so its move from shelves to bargain buckets) may in some way be the first step toward a more civic-minded games industry of the people.

But if one lesson should be learned from Ouya’s turbulent first six months it’s this – critics who exist within the games industry bubble need to learn how to think more like their readers.

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