Ouya, the $99 Android game console, has now attracted more than $5 million in backing on crowdfunding website Kickstarter. It's a fantastic return for a project, backed by industry veterans including Xbox co-creator Ed Fries, which initially sought just $950,000 in funding – a total that was passed in just eight hours.
The funds may keep flowing in, but the initial buzz surrounding Ouya has been replaced with scepticism. Concerns over whether Ouya's creators could really get the console to market for $950,000 were allayed by the admission that they were looking for further investment – a claim that has since been dismissed as a "misunderstanding".
But what do developers think? Is the creative community keen on an affordable console, running on the Tegra 3 chip and Google's Android OS, with an emphasis on hacking and modding and all its games free-to-play? Or do concerns about widespread piracy, hacking and even malware dim the value proposition to creators rightfully concerned about their bottom line? We spoke to some key industry figures to find out.
"We should always welcome things that try to disrupt tradition. It's not only refreshing to see but it also prevents us getting stuck in old thought patterns. Big companies especially tend to stay in their comfort zones, and this does not help technology to move forward.
"Personally, as a consumer, I would love to to own a small hackable console with an accessible digital catalogue of high-quality games. I love the experience you get on the big screen with either a joypad or the mouse and keyboard. I don't think any mobile experience has yet come near any of the experiences I've had on my PCs or consoles.
"That is their vision and I get it, but the commercial challenge arises when you look at the value offered. The hardware has average specifications and does nothing most Android devices can't do, so it comes down to their joypad and the games made for it.
"This creates a kind of chicken and egg situation. Will developers create games for this device before it become popular? Will people buy it before it has any good games? When I say good games, I don't mean the existing Android games displayed on a TV.
"Piracy doesn't interest me – I'm more worried about accessibility which it seems they are already focused on."
Co-founder, Spry Fox
"I think Ouya is a grand experiment, and I have a deep appreciation for all grand experiments. It's too soon to speculate on what it will mean for the console industry; that depends in large part on how the actual launch of the console goes."
Co-founder, Frontier Games and The Raspberry Pi Foundation
"It's a bit like a Raspberry Pi with an Xbox controller plugged in – except perhaps in price.
"Any platform will live or die on the support or community that builds up around it – that will be key. One problem with modding and hacking is you could easily end up with a fragmented community which is hard to support, and where very little is actually paid for – even with free-to-play – so developers might find it hard to sustain."
"I think a new console is an interesting prospect, but I think the Ouya has some challenges ahead. For one, I'm not sure they're going to be able to prototype and then manufacture 'the Stradivarius of controllers', even with the amount they've raised. The other issue is simply a question of how easy it is to port games to and how many customers you'll be selling to once you have. They've done amazingly well at proving how much interest there is in an 'indie console' in a really short time, but it feels like the launch of a new console may be outside the scope of a Kickstarter, and they'll need to raise more funding to make it a reality."
MD, Hello Games
"It's a great idea: an Android console is something that’s going to happen. Apple will release an Apple TV that can play games, and someone, or probably lots of people are going to make Android set top boxes. Ouya is already a far more interesting proposition than the likes of Samsung announcing an Android console. It’s crowdsourced, moddable and has instantly struck a chord with people, if not with developers. My brother asked me about it the other day, and he’s the definition of mainstream – his kids play on his phone all the time, and he’d see this as a cheap alternative to a console.
"Having said that, either the team behind the Kickstarter are very naïve, or very clever. They’re incredibly naïve if they think they can make a console for the raw cost of the parts involved, and that’s what most people are suspicious of. Given the experience of the people involved though I suspect they know they can’t, and that they are cleverly using the Kickstarter to get investors interested – they’ve pretty much said that. Either way, they shouldn’t be taking people’s money if they might not be able to make the lovely little thing. We’re all waiting nervously for that big Kickstarter that takes people’s money, and doesn’t deliver; that would damage Kickstarter hugely. I hope Ouya isn’t the first big Kickstarter failure."