Editorial: OUYA Could Destroy Traditional Gaming, And That’s Not A Good Thing

It’s no secret that people like to get things free. Whether it be an app, a game, even a new car, when something is free, you just feel that much better about getting it. The era of apps we currently live in has a large portion of free offerings, up to the point where apps that once sold for a buck or two have been switched to the freemium model. Whether it be ads, or additional paid content, the app developers still make money off of their free apps. But, is it really worth it to download a free game, only to pay 5 dollars to get all of the power-ups available?

Some game developers in both the mobile and traditional world have found success in making their games either free-to-play, or using the freemium model. The freemium model is found more in mobile apps, in which a developer offers two versions of the app, one is free with limited content, the other at a price with more content. Free-to-play is offered mainly on PCs, giving players the game free, but usually offers them the option to pay for in-game items and power-ups.

For those who don’t know me, I’m a huge gamer. I own all the major game consoles (Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii), a powerful gaming PC, and even a PS Vita for on the go. I play mobile games quite often as well, but tend to play the more casual, addicting games, versus a more feature packed one like Dead Trigger. I’m more than familiar with both the freemium and free-to-play models, and let’s just say I’m not a fan of either.

A few weeks ago, a new game platform, OUYA, emerged on Kickstarter. It runs Android, and will offer a library of all free-to-play games. It achieved its Kickstarter goal in less than 24 hours, and is now sitting on over 5 times the funding originally requested. On paper, this sounds like a great idea, right? Not in my mind.

As we move into this era of free-to-play, it brings more watered-down content with it. The base games aren’t very feature rich, instead making users pay more just to get the best experience out of a game. This isn’t necessarily true for every free-to-play game, but can apply to the majority. I’d rather pay my $60 up front for a game like Skyrim, which offers everything  on the disc (or download), without the need to pay extra just to fully experience the full game (there’s DLC, but that’s a different story for a different website).

OUYA uses NVIDIA’s Tegra 3 ARM-based processor as its graphics driving force. When I hear the name NVIDIA, I typically think of their line of high-end gaming graphics cards. Don’t let the name NVIDIA fool you, as the Tegra 3 is nothing more than another smartphone processor, designed for Android phones and tablets. Sure, games like Dead Trigger and Shadowgun look great on the Galaxy S III, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to look great on my 55-inch Samsung plasma TV.

The reception OUYA has received so far has truly scared me, not just for the platform itself, but the concept in general. If OUYA takes off, who knows what else is to come. Maybe Nintendo decides they’ll do the same thing, and the next Super Mario game will be free-to-play. Perhaps Microsoft thinks that more people would play Halo 5 if it were free, and offers it for everyone to download on Xbox LIVE. Even the profit-hungry executives at Activision could decide that Call Of Duty: Modern Ops 16 would be better if they offered the game for free, including only a pistol, making you pay real cash for the weapons you want.

In reality, I have a strong feeling that OUYA won’t even hit the production stage. The creators are pegging it for a launch in March of next year, and unless they have some funding coming from elsewhere, $5.5 million isn’t going to get them very far. I know, you’re thinking that $5.5 million is a huge number, but remember that half the backers have literally purchased the consoles through their backing, plus the fees for production, marketing, support, packaging, licensing, and the list just goes on and on.

If OUYAs do in fact ship, that will be a very dark day for this blogger, but let me know what you think. Drop a comment below, for even tweet me @jlehto43 on Twitter!




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