OUYA’s Android-based game console created an initial splash with a successful KickStarter a couple of years ago, but languished in the market after that, held back by a lack of great games and the inability to easily add any Android game. The company shifted to a platform strategy, hoping its curated game store would be more popular than its hardware. However, OUYA has not had much of an impact, being overshadowed by the success of the PS4 and Xbox One, and the more directly competitive Fire TV and the Android TV boxes heading to market. That’s not the end of OUYA’s story, though, as a new investment breathes significant life into the business.
Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba announced a $10 million into OUYA, and has begun working with the OUYA team to incorporate more software into the system, providing a library of games that could expand beyond 1,000 different offerings, according to the Wall Street Journal.
In addition, this deal could help open up a new market for the OUYA store or perhaps even the hardware, as Alibaba seeks to introduce a game console to China, following that country’s recent lifting of a ban on game consoles. As a result, many players will now be able to access a much-wider Android market with the system, while at the same time paying an affordable price in comparison to more expensive systems, such as the Xbox One and PlayStation 4.
This is the latest investment by Alibaba, who also paid $215 million for a chunk of mobile-messaging start-up team Tango in 2014, along with other companies, such as search-engine Quixey and shipping provider ShopRunner, according to the article. Alibaba also invested $120 million into Kabam, and perhaps that may mean seeing Kabam games on an Alibaba console.
So what does this mean It shows that Alibaba is quite serious about being a formidable competitor in the gaming market. Rumors of Alibaba developing a console for the Chinese market seem ever more probable; the company might even use the OUYA design (suitably updated, no doubt, with a newer processor for top-notch gaming power). OUYA’s store front, library of games, and user interface may all be of use to Alibaba as well. The Chinese market is wide open for consoles right now with no established base, and Alibaba’s immense size and bank account are powerful weapons. A lower-priced console would certainly be more popular than the high-priced Sony and Microsoft offerings. Alibaba may even be thinking about exporting such a console to other countries, where it could be an excellent way to bring Alibaba’s store front to a wide audience. Games may be just the way to sneak a store into people’s homes.
We certainly wish both companies the best of luck, as it’ll be interesting to see where this partnership goes from here.