OPERATIONS

Ouya Creator: I'm Not Doing a Victory Lap

Her Android-platform gaming console sold out in its first few hours on Amazon. But Julie Uhrman isn't pausing to celebrate. She's plowing ahead.

Courtesy Company

"This is just the end of one chapter and the beginning of another," Ouya founder and CEO Julie Uhrman said.

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By any measure, today's sales of the Ouya gaming console and controllers have been outstanding. In its first day available to the public, the $99 Android-powered console sold out on Amazon.com and at certain retailers within hours. 

That's solid market validation of an idea launched on Kickstarter roughly a year ago--an idea of video-game-industry veteran Julie Uhrman. She believed that game developers deserved an easy-to-navigate, open-source platform for distribution of their work. She brought in the popular designer Yves Behar to give the platform a console, which is a tidy cube smaller than a grapefruit. And the formula worked on Kickstarter: The Ouya met its funding goal within 8 hours on July 10, 2012, and earned $8.5 million total.

Today, the platform has 17,000 registered game developers and hosts 178 new games. But Uhrman says  she's not celebrating. At least not yet.

"We are far from victory-lap time. This is just the end of one chapter and the beginning of another," she told me. "The demand we are seeing in retail today just reiterates that gamers and developers are excited to have a new platform to develop on and use." 

Some of the bright news for Ouya was dulled by backlash online to the fact that some early backers on Kickstarter still don't have their Ouya consoles. Uhrman attributed this not to supply-chain issues (as some other Kickstarter projects notoriously have faced), but rather plain old shipping trouble.

Uhrman responded smartly to criticism, and directly to the Kickstarter backers:

I am pissed. Some of you have not yet received your OUYA -- and, to you, I apologize. I did not promise to ship to *most* of you before we hit store shelves. I promised to ship to *all* of you. I’ve been reading your comments, and we are working to solve this.

She told me that only a "small number of backers, all international" hadn't received their Ouyas, and that most of the problems were the result of incorrect addresses or phone numbers, or customs issues. Uhrman said she received lots of advice about producing a product abroad, and the pitfalls that can happen along the way. But snags for the Ouya didn't come until more recently.

"The one thing that I was told is that there are always things that are going to come up you can't foresee when managing a supply chain. Ultimately it wasn't for us in the production, it was in the shipping of units," she said. "To have more time to deliver to market is one way to avoid this. But when you're pushing hard to get something to market, time is of the essence. In our case it worked 99 percent of the time."

IMAGE: Courtesy Company
Last updated: Jun 25, 2013

CHRISTINE LAGORIO-CHAFKIN | Staff Writer | Senior Writer

Christine Lagorio-Chafkin is a writer, editor, and reporter whose work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Village Voice, and The Believer, among other publications. She is a senior writer at Inc.




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