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Why did the Ouya microconsole fail? A rant!


Keatah
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Why did the Ouya microconsole fail? I thought this was supposed to be the latest and greatest and hottest thing going? If ever there was a Dot-Com stink of optimism this was it, as I'm discovering. I was going to buy one for a gamer buddy of mine, but 1 hour research yielded disappointment after disappointment.

 

It might be good to get the opinions of seasoned gamers that were around since the VCS and KIM-1 days and whom can speak with authority granted by time; instead of millennials blinded by online this and online that, writing for tech sites that have no clue.

 

Personally I think it has to do with too many me-too games, too many easy-to-use development tools letting people design games who shouldn't be.

 

Things said by the OUYA president:

https://www.ouya.tv/what-weve-been-up-to/

 

"And, for those of you who are wondering, 675 games in less than a year is more than any other console has ever done. We have 10 times more games than when we started, and new game submissions keep coming in, every week."

 

I can't imagine all of them are good.

 

"Lastly, we released a new version of the console with more storage and better WiFi. Today, we are *really* proud of what we’ve delivered. How did we do that? Ten software updates in eleven months helps."

 

Sounds like a beta-test program to me. Get it right the first time, like the Colecovision or Intellivision.

 

"We also went back to our roots this year. We launched a game development matching fund for projects funded on Kickstarter that choose to come to OUYA first. Took us a bit to get this right, but as of today, we are funding ten games."

 

Went back to your roots? The company hasn't even been around long enough to have grow them in the first place. Furthermore, back in the proper days when things were done right, the company the made the hardware (Atari, Mattel, and so on) also funded ALL their games in-house.

 

That provided me with a ready-made selection of good games from the get-go. And I could by them at any toy store with cash without complex online accounts.

 

"Parental controls. Three currencies. Five languages. USB external support. Remote download of games. Faster updates. Game trailers. Evolving UI. You get the gist… we’ve been busy, and it never stops."

 

Stop! Just stop! This makes my head spin. I don't know what all that means, but it seems to be moving too fast. And it needs to slow and stop and solidify so that a reference point can be established. A presence. A force. Baggie-chasing a moving target is tiresome. Most of the times you just want to sit down and do your thing, whether it be developing or playing.

 

Parental controls? I like the old-school way. Lock the damned thing in the closet. Fast, effective.

Three currencies? It shouldn't make a difference what currency is used. Unless you're monetizing.

Five Languages? Games and their art should transcend any language.

USB external support? Can I connect my portable usb drive and do music and pictures from it?

Remote download of games? What happens when the server goes down?

Faster updates? Do it right the first time and you don't have to worry about updates.

Game trailers? What happened to the old printed catalogs handed out at the store?

Evolving UI? WTF? I have to re-learn it every 2 months? Why? To what end aside from timewasting?

 

 

Things said by users:

https://www.ouya.tv/what-weve-been-up-to/

"Stay the hell away from developing for the system you have to make $150 a month for ouya before ever making a single cent for yourself.."

 

Crazy man! I'm not doing that!?!?!

 

"I really hope you will still be developing the consoles and not abandoning them. I bought mine today because I want to see the Ouya as a console grow. Don't let me down, guys!"

 

Ha! That's the wrong reason to buy a console. You buy it because it has games on it now. Games you wanna play.

 

"I bought this console about 5 months ago and have had fun with a few of the games. I am glad that Ouya has been working on patches, updates, and such. However, though patches were really needed, why keep working on "trinkets" when only a few of the games are actually worth the purchase? Why not invest on developers and come out with better games? 645 games in a year is quite impressive, but when 640 of those games are "time waster apps" you can get in an old cellphone then I think you haven't really done anything."

 

"I agree with you. It seems Ouya wants to be a unique thing in a world already filled with uniques that do the same things. Ouya everywhere? why? The only games worth playing are already on other platforms. I bought the Ouya because I really liked the idea of a "retro" feel to the games, and I don't mean retro only as NES and such, I mean PS1, N64 and the likes, those older games that, though not graphically stunning, offered a longer, single player experience. What I've found with the Ouya are games that you can beat in a few hours (the ones worth playing) and a bunch of other games that I think you would have to pay ME to play.

On the plus side, I'm glad it can be used as an emulator, but I can do the same with a computer.

Add fuel to the fire: I can't even sell this thing anymore either. A waste all around"

 

Well yes. Consoles that depend on online stores don't have the best resale value.

 

"A few months later and the OUYA sucks even harder. I had this thing in a closet for a few months, took it out to see if there was any improvement and it actually for worse!!!! More junk games, that's exactly what we needed. At least this thing was cheap, 130 bucks (100 for the console plus an additional 30 I had to pay for a power supply because these retards couldn't figure out the proper one). I could have easily used that 130 on something else though."

 

I like the standard power supply on the Atari VCS. Great stuff!

 

"Thats a very good move - I'm a bit worried about some problems with device fragmentation but overall it might be the best move to make. There are a lot of new powerful android ARM devices like tronsmart vega and new tegra 4 consoles that would be great fit for ouya store. I'd really like to hear some news about ouya 2 which would have more powerful hardware."

 

"Ouya is dead, we have Mojo, Razor TV, Amazon Fire TV, Huawei Tron, Nvidia Shield, Nexus Player and a lot more.
Each one of them has better hardware then the Ouya. The Problem with the Ouya was that the hardware wasnt like it could have been right from the start, the software wasnt good and the performance of the hardware with an tegra 3 also was a problem.
I wish they would have waited with this good idea for at least the tegra 4, better than that, tegra k1.
Ouya could have become a great thing, now its problematic."

 

Market is too crowded, developers are ripping their hair out and snapping their necks trying to figure out which platforms are best to work with. Back in the day we had like 5 or10 companies that were well known and from who you could count on to get a good game. Atari, Commodore, Apple, Imagic, Activision, Br0derbund, Infocom, Sirius Software.. And then there was the indie selling stuff in plastic baggies. Bags worth chasing after!

 

Every goddamned fucking time I sign in to the internet there is a new game, a new streaming tv site, more downloadable shit. Crap which will be gone in a week.

 

Then there is this article:

http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/251100/With_Ouyas_demise_is_the_dream_of_the_microconsole_dead.php#comments

 

I think the hardware model needs to come back. It worked successfully for many years. This marketing-centric model only encourages fragmentation and discourages solidarity - something a platform needs to survive. Solidarity acts as a framework and known quantity from which great things are grown. Not farted out and force fed to you by developers that have no right going anywhere near a computer.

 

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So if I understand your rant correctly, the problem with the Ouya is that it can't possibly meet the expectations of today's gaming populace? Anyone could have predicted that outcome. The Ouya was never tailored to compete with the likes of Microsoft, Sony or Nintendo, nor was it meant to replace PC gaming, tablet-based games or smartphone games. In the end, it tried to cater to an audience that was never clearly defined, leaving itself vulnerable to non-stop criticism.

 

I do agree with you that the console-based gaming world needs to return to its roots, with physical media instead of downloads. The problem with this proposition, however, is that developers and publishers are still swimming into the "brave new world" of download-only gaming and downloadable content, and today's gamers have gotten used to this "world" and don't necessarily see the point of ditching the current way of doing things and going back to an older gaming industry model.

 

It would take people crazy enough to design a cartridge-based console (so they'd be even crazier than the guys who created the Ouya) AND THEN this console would have to become unexpectedly popular and take the market by storm (kinda like how the NES filled in the void in North America after the video game crash of 84). The chances of this endeavour succeeding would be astronomically low in today's world.

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Ouya failed to attract many of the major mobile developers--some of which even had games that already ran great on the system when sideloaded. All they would have had to do is add them to another store. Say what you want about EA, for example, it would have been nice to play some of their high-budget titles on the system. Many of the games the system was demoed with prior to release were never even released in its store. "Indie" games, of greatly variable quality, were strongly represented, but they aren't what move systems, or keep platforms afloat. I didn't really buy my ouya for indie titles--I bought it to play kickass mobile games on a platform with controls more suited to gaming than a cell phone. Very few of them ever showed up.

 

Ouya did have hardware problems, but it wasn't mostly with speed, storage, etc--the main problem was controller lag and comfort. PS3 controllers quickly became the controller of choice for the few members of the ouya gaming forum. I can't imagine that info really got out very far, however. Some Ouya games also didn't support ps3 controls.

When the system's stock controller is pretty much garbage, that's the audience you have to develop/test for. Sad.

 

There were also issues with the store such as pricing *NEVER* being clear because "everything is free." It would have been nice to know in advance if the "free" game I was downloading had a $1 or a $30 paywall ten minutes in. There was nothing in the ecosystem for multiplayer(even basic matchmaking), or any concept of platform 'friends' so there was no official community while playing the thing.

 

In short:

  • The hardware was poor
  • the ecosystem was poor
  • the software was poor

The only thing that wasn't poor about the system was the initial concept--which unfortunately Ouya has poisoned by its failed existence. Ouya had the only real chance at this now fractured market, but by failing so completely it did more to hurt its core concept than to help it.

Edited by Reaperman
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There were also issues with the store such as pricing *NEVER* being clear because "everything is free." It would have been nice to know in advance if the "free" game I was downloading had a $1 or a $30 paywall ten minutes in.

 

This is something that really grinds my gears - whether it be gaming console, mobile phone app, or traditional freely downloaded program on the PC.

 

If I come across something that's ambiguously freeware, and later it pops up a time limit or something.. BAM! I get rid of it. With the PC platform you can sort of tell by taking note of a freeware or payware version. Or seeing the word "purchase" on the site. Or perhaps more mysteriously, "free download". These "free downloads" always turn out to be hidden payware.

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This is something that really grinds my gears - whether it be gaming console, mobile phone app, or traditional freely downloaded program on the PC.

 

If I come across something that's ambiguously freeware, and later it pops up a time limit or something.. BAM! I get rid of it. With the PC platform you can sort of tell by taking note of a freeware or payware version. Or seeing the word "purchase" on the site. Or perhaps more mysteriously, "free download". These "free downloads" always turn out to be hidden payware.

 

At least on PC you can blame crooked developers for being slimy. On OUYA it was a requirement of the platform to appear "free". There was no way to even label the software as having a cost. There was no way to advertise a sale, even. Developers would lower their price for a week and have to go to the unofficial forums (even the largest had very few active members), where they'd have to start a thread advertising their sale. Every single online shopping cart commonly available today has better features than Ouya.

 

OUYA seemingly did everything they could to provide a poor ecosystem for gamers and commercial developers. We're not talking about hard to add features here. These features are well within the realm of basic turd-polishing. Just another field to display, as it's info that they must have been tracking somewhere anyway. Now users can sort/filter on price just like they do with name or genre--holy cow, what a damn concept. Maybe (*shock*) do something for temporary discounts, or filtration of monetization type too. Instead users on the unofficial forums took it upon themselves to catalog and list the prices of OUYA games. They put many times more work into it than OUYA would have needed to.

 

Sorry, OUYA's just a very sore point with me. It wouldn't have taken much to make it a whole lot nicer experience.

Edited by Reaperman
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I have a Ouya and it does have a few good games (Neon Shadow, Ittle Dew, and some others) most are crap and even the good games suffer from the crappy controller lag.

 

I haven't turned mine on in months tho someday I plan to go back and finish the dungeon crawl game I started as it was pretty good. But anyways it was a crap console, not as bad as my gamestick but still crap

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This is something that really grinds my gears - whether it be gaming console, mobile phone app, or traditional freely downloaded program on the PC.

 

If I come across something that's ambiguously freeware, and later it pops up a time limit or something.. BAM! I get rid of it. With the PC platform you can sort of tell by taking note of a freeware or payware version. Or seeing the word "purchase" on the site. Or perhaps more mysteriously, "free download". These "free downloads" always turn out to be hidden payware.

I'm very suspicious of "free" games, and when given the option, I always prefer to buy. Paying money up front for something that you want, and then getting to use it thereafter as it was intended to be used, without being bombarded with ads or pestered to spend even more ... what a concept! Unfortunately, everything that seems logical and natural to me always seems to be the exact opposite of the way things are done in gaming today, which is one reason I'm sitting out modern gaming completely (except for the NVIDIA Shield Portable, which I use mostly to run emulators). Here's a nice article on this very subject:

 

https://www.baekdal.com/opinion/how-inapp-purchases-has-destroyed-the-industry

 

As for the Ouya, I have friends who bought into it, but they used it for only a handful of games and for XBMC. It didn't make much sense to me, either, which is why I stayed away and ultimately opted for the NVIDIA Shield Portable instead. Now that, in my opinion, is how you do an Android-based console properly.

 

(Unfortunately, most people couldn't wrap their heads around the seemingly simple concept of a handheld Android console with physical controls. Game "journalists" complained constantly that it was "too heavy," or that it was only about streaming games from a PC, or that we didn't need it because we can play Android games on touchscreen phones. So, it now seems to have been discontinued. Once again, I'm 180 degrees out of phase with the modern game industry.)

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Yup. Modern tablet "gaming" makes our classic consoles and emulators look so much better. At least to us. Imagine the Doom version of that. Wait 24 hours to restock your ammo. Screw that..

 

Tragic thing is that people actually want this stuff. I mean, like, after all, they're sucking it up left and right. One family I know keeps an account for each of their kids. They give $500 per month to each kid solely for the purpose of speeding up games and buying content.

 

I tend not to like the artwork in modern gaming. It looks like the stuff I scribbled in my notebook back in high school. Maybe a little better, more stylized and more colorful. Bit it's all the same. None of it is memorable. None of it has the staying power of the old classic artwork.

 

And the last EA game I purchased was F/A-18 Interceptor for the Amiga way back in the day. That and probably Skyfox. Since then and especially recently I've made it a point to avoid giving that company my money.

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Yeah... According to CEO Julia, Ouya had 1,000 games in the marketplace with over 40,000 developers... :ponder:

 

I bought one and do not regret it. It's been fun seeing what's been offered over the years. Tragically what killed Ouya may have been the fact that 76% of owners never purchased a single game for it. They just bought the box thinking endless buffet of emulators and free trials...

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Yup. Modern tablet "gaming" makes our classic consoles and emulators look so much better. At least to us. Imagine the Doom version of that. Wait 24 hours to restock your ammo. Screw that..

 

Tragic thing is that people actually want this stuff. I mean, like, after all, they're sucking it up left and right.

Too true. I try to give my nieces and nephews a regular dose of classic-style gaming, just to show them that games didn't always go out of their way to annoy you or nickel-and-dime you to death, but it's hard to compete with the mesmerizing 2048x1536 visuals that you can get on an iPad. Once they've been hypnotized by fancy graphics, the kids will do anything the games want them to, and the next thing you know, they're bugging you to buy mods, skins, new characters, new weapons, and who knows what else.

 

I tend not to like the artwork in modern gaming. It looks like the stuff I scribbled in my notebook back in high school. Maybe a little better, more stylized and more colorful. Bit it's all the same. None of it is memorable. None of it has the staying power of the old classic artwork.

Interesting that you mention the dominant game artwork style. I can't seem to find it now, but when Chris Crawford was trying to raise funds for "Balance of the Planet" on Kickstarter, he put together a compilation of promotional artwork for the top-ten Kickstarter games at the time, and he correctly pointed out that every one of them had the exact same stylized cartoonish look. They were so much alike that it was hard to tell the games apart. "Balance of the Planet," on the other hand, had a bleak and realistic look which was appropriate for the subject of the game, and it was very nicely done, but it couldn't grab the eyeballs like those colorful Candy Crush graphics, so it went virtually unnoticed.

 

I had the same reaction when I saw my friends' favorite Ouya games. They were so unremarkable that I don't even remember which ones they were, but they looked exactly the same as most other Android games. A console like the Ouya needed exclusives that stood out from the crowd, and it didn't seem to have them.

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This is something that really grinds my gears - whether it be gaming console, mobile phone app, or traditional freely downloaded program on the PC.

 

If I come across something that's ambiguously freeware, and later it pops up a time limit or something.. BAM! I get rid of it. With the PC platform you can sort of tell by taking note of a freeware or payware version. Or seeing the word "purchase" on the site. Or perhaps more mysteriously, "free download". These "free downloads" always turn out to be hidden payware.

That's why I go to sourceforge to download PC apps. Tons of free open sourced productivity stuff. Open Office, Gimp, etc...

 

But I don't game much on PC so go figure. :P

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Endless buffet of Emulators? WTF? I like that!

 

The one thing I don't mind buying DLC for once in a while is X-Plane on the PC. Nor do I mind the occasional pay-to-upgrade. And I hope the current business model continues as such.

 

X-Plane is eminently playable by itself and what you get with the initial purchase - global scenery and something like 20 planes. I've gotten all the versions since 4.0. And minor updates like 4.1, 4.2, are free. When you step up to 5.0 you get a new engine and increased system requirements. This happens about every 3 years more or less. We're up to version 10 now for the past 2-3 years. 10.32

 

I don't mind the $50-$70 "re-entrance" fee because it is relatively slow paced, is not required (your existing purchase doesn't expire), and is a natural progression in the evolution of PC flight simulators. Nothing is forced upon you. Your existing copy keeps working, and can be installed on any PC any time. You even have a choice of DVD-by-mail order or a backup-able "digital" download.. A good thing! Were there ever analog downloads?

 

There's tons of freeware and payware add-on airports and scenery and airplanes to get. The payware stuff is sometimes better in depth and scope than the freeware material. But it's all good.

 

Now.. On the iPad.. X-Plane on the iPad.. It's monetized just like everything else. You have to pay to unlock scenery, airplanes, weather, scenarios, airports, and forget it.

Edited by Keatah
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It failed because it was a POS. Cheap console, cheap controllers, controller delay/lag on many games, cumbersome and slow GUI with little flash to it, a marketplace that consisted mostly of crapware. I hate to be so negative about it, but not one single factor impressed me when I had an Ouya. I wanted it to succeed, but there was no way that was going to happen with the lackluster quality it featured across the board.

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Wasn't Kickstarter supposed to be a source of funds for creative works? Art, music, plays, movies, things like that. Things that didn't require significant amounts of physical parts. Things that weren't so price sensitive - like tech toys.

 

I think that people are using it wrong. Somebody gets the idea to make a console or something like the Hemmingway. And they quickly get eaten alive by the supply chain. Too many underestimations. Too many variables. Not enough buffer space to weather a short-term price increase in a critical part.

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$500 - What the heck?!?! :o

 

What a bunch of "whales."

 

Indeed. That's just in my local neighborhood. Out there in the "big leagues" some developers have reported getting $20,000 - $30,000 a month from some customers. That's insane. But to a millionaire or billionaire, $30,000 is like $10 to us small fry.

 

 

ADDED:

I find it unpleasant that development efforts are biased as high as 80% monetization / 20% good game. One can even argue if these are games to begin with and not social experiments and scamming platforms designed to separate you and your money.

 

So that's where all the spare clock cycles are going, to run and support this greed-mongering infrastructure.

 

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7161901

http://developer.xamarin.com/guides/ios/application_fundamentals/in-app_purchasing/part_1_-_in-app_purchase_basics_and_configuration/

Edited by Keatah
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It failed because it was a POS. Cheap console, cheap controllers, controller delay/lag on many games, cumbersome and slow GUI with little flash to it, a marketplace that consisted mostly of crapware. I hate to be so negative about it, but not one single factor impressed me when I had an Ouya. I wanted it to succeed, but there was no way that was going to happen with the lackluster quality it featured across the board.

 

 

I felt the same way. Thought it was a great idea (as many people did) and when I got mine off that Kickstarter it was a disappointment. I soon realized they were adding a lot of crapware and PC ports, not actual android ports from googleplay. In fact there was no googleplay connectivity unless you manually xfered the APK's and hoped that the app would function. I ended up only playing emulators on it and eventually that wore thin.

 

Mistakes, lots of them.

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I realise that the question is now moot as the product has been discontinued, but did the Ouya ever see mass, retail distribution? If so, where? I never saw one available in a retail store.

 

Besides the aforementioned Gamestop, I've also seen them in Target. They were just on the shelf, though, with no marketing material around it, so you had to know you wanted one if you passed by it.

 

Among its many issues were poor controllers. Once the stink of "bad controllers" got around, I think it lost the interest of a lot of the niche that might have jumped on board. I think if general word of mouth had been positive from the first batches of people who got them, it might have built some momentum. As it was, it never gained any momentum post Kickstarter.

 

I try to literally own every videogame and computer console, but I stayed away from this one. It didn't sit right with me from the start. It was too in-between trying to be its own thing as well as an Android console. It had an identity crisis.

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Honestly, I doubt many believed this would be a hit. You can't hope to sell a console with games meant for mobile phones. People hoped it could be a nice niche machine and give them a way to play interesting mobile games without the suckiness of touch controls. The huge number of games comes from counting every rubbish freeware release on the system. Reports of software sales being ridiculously low came in from indie devs in the months after the console launch.

 

The concept may hava a future with more and more full fledged AAA games coming to mobile, and with more potent companies selling the hardware. But OUYA was a pipedream.

Edited by 108 Stars
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Besides the aforementioned Gamestop, I've also seen them in Target. They were just on the shelf, though, with no marketing material around it, so you had to know you wanted one if you passed by it.

 

I guess that this was yet another consumer product that never made it North of the 49th parallel. On the other hand, it was no great loss.

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Indeed. That's just in my local neighborhood. Out there in the "big leagues" some developers have reported getting $20,000 - $30,000 a month from some customers. That's insane. But to a millionaire or billionaire, $30,000 is like $10 to us small fry.

 

 

ADDED:

I find it unpleasant that development efforts are biased as high as 80% monetization / 20% good game. One can even argue if these are games to begin with and not social experiments and scamming platforms designed to separate you and your money.

 

So that's where all the spare clock cycles are going, to run and support this greed-mongering infrastructure.

 

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7161901

http://developer.xamarin.com/guides/ios/application_fundamentals/in-app_purchasing/part_1_-_in-app_purchase_basics_and_configuration/

You bring a valid point. A $60 or ever $70 AAA title on one of the big three Nintendo/Microsoft/Sony systems, with or without whatever DLC packages the developer provides, will be light-years more immersive of a gaming experience compared to anything on mobile. I have yet to find the logic behind investing in "free-to-play" / "pay-to-enjoy" mechanics. I would rather pay up front for a one time full unlock fee, even if it's a bit more than the $1 or even $5 most shovelware go for, than be nickle-and-dimed to hell and back.

 

These so-called "whales" where the 1% or 2% of users are creating 98% or 99% of the income, are ruining the enjoyment of games by the average consumer. The gameplay is there, so let me pay a sane $10-$20 for the full package and enjoy my time playing it. The consumers have spoken, and these "whales" that would rather pay $1 a thousand times over for some crappy gimmick of a game than pay $20 for a truly immersive experience, are ruining it for everyone else who games on a frugal budget.

 

I refuse to pay real $$$ for in-game consumables or currency. It's called grinding. You go out into the wilderness and slay a hundred beasts to earn the gold yourself to buy that sword upgrade or fireproof armor. How dare they tell me I have to fork over $1 for a 5-pack of hearts or a 3-pack of potions that will be gone as soon as I use them? Or how a bout 15 minutes into the game "your daily allotment of gold tokens have expired. Please wait 4 hours for gold tokens to replenish, or you can buy 20 tokens for $1 or 100 tokens for $4"

 

Gaming has gone full circle, in the worst possible way. In the arcades back in the early 80s, you paid 25 cents per game, late 80s to early 90s 25 cents to continue, or you could go to the store and buy a game for $40 or whatever for unlimited play over the next 30 years or so. Now with mobile, it's back to the old arcade style concept "buy credits to continue playing" or at least wait 4 hours for a free token BS. But instead of going to a smokey arcade and renting time on the owners machines between socializing with the crowd or scarfing down beer and greasy refreshments, you are sitting on your couch at home like some fat introvert with what might as well be a compulsive gambling problem.

 

Games were meant to be fun, but instead of the joyful bliss of sliding down the flagpole or saving the princess, there are frowns for "time to input your password/pin to authorize another microtransaction. And now even Nintendo is experimenting with micropayments in certain Pokemon themed games. The last company on Earth I would expect to get sucked into this scam. I will admit, most of these newer games are playable in short bursts and possible to beat without spending a dime, but I question where this is leading.

 

Oh well... Recently I've been spending more time playing my backlight modded DMG gameboy than my N3DSxL. Just another mid-30s "old fart" retrogamer ranting about the changing times. Time to get off my soap box.

Edited by stardust4ever
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I was born too late to have a desired opinion but I saw the Ouya at Best Buy and Target in Virginia and at least Target back in New York. I never had an ounce of desire to get it when it was announced / hyped because I immediately expected it to be a phone with a cheap controller full of some form of IAP / ad supported games. After I thought about the emulation aspect I off and on thought about it but my Wii is just too good at it for most systems I honestly spend real game time emulating. To me it looked like a cute box of sadness and frustration.

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