OUYA CEO Julie Uhrman delivers oddly moving ode to the television, announces Double Fine partnership
The Android-based OUYA console has been making some big moves, including recently announced partnerships with powerful retailers. OUYA CEO Julie Uhrman began her speech by describing her love affair with the television, showing a picture of her as a child with her sister in front of the TV. We’re used to being told that watching the TV is bad, which makes it even more jarring to hear someone speak so eloquently about loving that big, beautiful screen.
She described staying up late watching her favorite TV shows when she’s not working or spending time with her kids. She makes time for television, even if it leads to exhaustion.
“It’s the idea that the television has always been there. It’s in the middle of our lives,” she said. The threat is that all our screens, the phones and tablets, are starting to take our attention away from the television. She called the TV the most immersive device, and playing games the most immersive thing we can do on that device. She backed up this speech with stats: Six times more money is attributed to console gamers than mobile gamers, according to her slides. 60 percent of heavy gamers said they can’t live without a console.
The stakes of modern development
Which is a problem in the modern gaming industry. Everyone has to compete with Grand Theft Auto IV in the console space. The stakes are way too high. When a game fails to sell, companies die. Studios lose people to mobile or casual development. Entire companies pivot to work on iOS games. The trick to saving gaming on the TV isn’t building another Xbox, according to Uhrman, but creating “a new experience.” The OUYA is an attempt to bring the low costs of mobile development and a pathway directly to the consumer to a form factor that is designed to work well with the television.
It sounded like a uniquely personal crusade; Uhrman is taking advantage of the momentum and lower cost of entry in Android gaming to help developers create games for her favorite screen. The OUYA wants to open up television gaming by making it easy to create, sell, and play games on the television. It’s an effective pitch, even though the method is merely bringing Android gaming to the television. It may not sound like a big deal on paper, but after talking to developers who are already using the OUYA hardware to play their games on their HDTVs, it’s clear that it’s a liberating feeling. It somehow legitimizes the experience, there’s a power to the television. Even if you can simply plug a HDMI output to your phone or tablet, the OUYA is designed to be used on the television. It lives there.
She also announced some new partners. Double Fine’s Reds and The Cave are coming to the OUYA. Paul Bettner, the co-founder of Zynga with Friends, is bringing two unannounced games from his new studio, to the console.
Uhrman wants to make sure small studios that create games for the mobile market aren’t locked out of the television. They’re welcome on the OUYA. The speech was oddly moving and personal, especially due to the fact that a love of the television is something most people hide. “It’s the device we all love, we just don’t talk about it at parties” Uhrman said. “Find the way to make it yours again, and bring great content back.”