Ouya: The game price debate

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The Ouya is due to be shipping to Kickstarters at the end of March but now the talk is about the price of the games. On a normal game console if the price of games was between $5 – $20 you would be happy but the Ouya isn’t a normal console it is a microconsole.  On an Ouya forum developers and gamers are discussing the pricing of Ouya games and it seems many of the game developers are pricing their games at the $5 + range, but is this too high?

I am excited about the Ouya but this pricing debate has concerned me as most of the game developers are talking about a $5 minimum for paid games.  That may not sound a lot for a video game but most of these games will be available on various Android stores and on iTunes where we know most games sell for around $1.  This raises the question is a +$4 premium worth it to play a game on their TV or will the masses be happy to play games on their mobile devices?

I am not against paying $5 – $20 to game but many of the games on the Ouya lists currently circling are, frankly and I mean this with all due respect, throwaway games.  These are games which you would buy, possibly, if they were priced at $1 on a whim. There are also some games for the Ouya that I am really excited about and would think paying $5 – $20 would be reasonable.

There are other factors at work here too. This $5 starting level may be the case of a vocal minority but I think a reality check is required for the developers.  The Ouya has roughly 500 games coming to it. To put this in perspective, the Playstation 3 currently has just under 800 games but with an install base of around 52 million.  The Ouya will have a small install base with a conservative figure of around 50,000 consoles available. Can you see the problem? Too many games not enough users, which is something I hope will change.

How can the $5 mark be viable for the majority of games with those factors?  The simple answer is – it won’t – so if the developers want their games to sell at all, they will need to align their game prices to those on mobile devices.  The Ouya was created to take the benefits of mobile devices but put it onto a big screen. If you increase the prices of mediocre mobile games by 400% how can the Ouya succeed?

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