If you haven't yet heard of Ouya, you will soon. It's not exactly in the same league with Sony, Nintendo or Microsoft, but it's playing in the same space -- and now it's got some significant funding behind it.
Ouya is all about playing video games on the TV, and its Android-based console promises to bring the most creative games back to the television set by allowing developers to build games for the big screen. Ouya's model: Every game is free to try. And it's turning some heads.
Ouya just raised $15 million in funding from new investors. Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, the same firm that originally backed Electronic Arts, led the round. Mayfield Fund, Nvidia, Shasta Ventures and Occam Partners are also investors.
"So, what does this mean for you?" asked Julie Uhrman, founder and CEO of Ouya, in a blog post. "It means we've got additional resources to make Ouya everything it can be. It means that we can increase production to meet our demand and continue to support game developers who are building innovative and exclusive games for Ouya."
Ouya has been shipping its early backers video game console units as it gears up for the official launch in June. Uhrman said the demand from gamers and retailers alike has exceeded the company's expectations. That led to a decision to push back the launch date by three weeks to manufacture more units.
"Our official launch date will be June 25th. This change in ship date does not affect backer shipments," she wrote. "We're still on track to have units shipped to our early backers -- from both Kickstarter and Ouya.tv preorders before the end of May."
No Xbox Competition
We caught up with Billy Pidgeon, an independent video game analyst, to get his thoughts on Ouya. He told us the video game console is alternative and new but he's not bullish on the company's prospects for carving out a significant niche in the marketplace in the near-term.
"Someone who wanted an Xbox isn't going to get the Ouya instead. It's not a replacement product, it's an expansion product -- and it is pretty new, so it's going to take a bit of marketing to get it out there," Pidgeon said.
"The business model may also be difficult to execute. Ouya talks about offering free content and getting gamers to pay for transactions. That type of business model doesn't usually work unless there's a large user base. It may be difficult to get a significant enough user base to support sufficient revenue. Otherwise, they are going to have a hard time getting a business going."