With the news yesterday on Ouya’s plans to match the successful Kickstarter campaigns of potentially Ouya exclusive games, a lot of people, both press and developers alike, have wondered if this is a good deal for indie developers. After thinking about it and seeing some numbers, I think it is.
The first thing going for Indie developers is that there are roughly 58,000 Kickstarter backed consoles in circulation right now. That is not including the thousands sold both by Ouya directly and participating retailers. That means there are 10s of thousands of console owners hungry for quality games to reach the console. While asking those console owners to wait a year or more for your game might seem daunting, it is nothing new. It happens all the time on Kickstarter.
The second thing is that sales of games are great for quality games. Edge Magazine reports that Towerfall hassold over 2,000 copies at $15 each. This means two things. 1) games are selling at a good rate. Towerfall has been out for about 3 weeks now and that is a good number of sales for a higher priced exclusive game. Which leads into 2) Ouya owners are willing to pay premium prices for Ouya games. You don’t have to sell your game for $5 or less if the quality demands a higher price. If your game is of sufficient quality and is priced to match, people will pay and you can make plenty of money on the Ouya.
The third thing going for indies is that the nature of this matching fund demands high quality games. With a $50k minimum funding level required for qualification, this sets the standard for games that meet and exceed Towerfall’s level of quality. If your game is not a high enough quality, it will not be able to reach that level of success on Kickstarter. If it can’t reach that level of success, then chances are it wouldn’t have sold that well on Ouya to begin with.
The final thing going for indies is that having more quality games on the console is going to boost their own position. People follow the games and will come to the consoles that have the games they want. If developers avoid the Ouya, then it will never reach the position to help more than a handful of developers reach success. By releasing exclusively for the Ouya, even for a short period, those who really want that game right away will follow it to the console. That will mean more people looking at other developer’s games as well.
This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take precautions when jumping into this deal. The deal is that you get your Kickstarter funds matched if you reach $50k. But that doesn’t mean that is what you should be asking for out of the gate. If you want to be careful and still be able to make a good game, then asking for a lower amount and promising the Ouya exclusivity if your funds exceed $50k, you could still do well. You can do this by saying that exceeding the $50k will get you extra money that can make the later ports to PC even better. You can say that if you reach that funding level, then the Ouya version could be even better. You just need to frame it right. If you don’t exceed the $50k but still succeed in your Kickstarter, you can still make the game, just not at the level the matching funds would have allowed.
Overall, it is a great opportunity. I think that any developer who wants to give this a try should. They have nothing to lose. If they structure their Kickstarter properly, they can still succeed even if they don’t qualify for the Ouya matching funds. But if no one jumps, then the Ouya and all its owners will suffer. If no one jumps, then those developers already on the service will suffer. So get out there and try your hardest to get a chunk of that cash.