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Kickstarter consoles can be a lesson in patience

Analysis A brace of Android based games consoles have disappointed
Fri Sep 13 2013, 14:58

THE ANDROID GAMES CONSOLES that appeared on the Kickstarter crowdfunding website looked great on their virtual paper.

Both promised to bring affordable games back into the living room and back into the hands of developers and players.

Neither has really done that yet. One, the Gamestick from Playjam hasn't even arrived, despite being promised in the summer, and the other, the Ouya, came out with more of a raspberry than a bang.

This week Playjam said that it is close to launching its Gamestick console and promised to deliver units to Kickstarter backers as a priority. Once, that is, it has provided some to the media for review.

"Co-ordinating a wider retail launch is a highly involved process and any change in timelines can sometimes interfere with planned production updates while we message them across our partner channels. So thanks again for your patience and understanding as we navigate these waters," it said.

"Just to confirm: retail units will hit the shelves only after Kickstarter units have been fulfilled. In the meantime, a number of review units will be shipped to various media outlets as part of our pre-launch preparations."

Although backers will be looking forward to getting their Gamestick and trying out the games on it, they have found their patience tried during the wait.

It has been a frustrating wait, but Playjam has kept backers updated with its progress. Its most recent email to backers was its 41st, and included the good news that they were all waiting for.

They are left now to wait and consider the extra work that has gone into the Gamestick - its re-tooling, its testing, and its durability - and hope that it pays off.

These questions have been answered in relation to the Ouya Android console. That went on sale in June, and despite being backed by $8m in Kickstarter cash it failed to set the gaming world alight.

Its blighted launch and problems led the firm to apologise to backers and offer them a kickback in return for their understanding and patience.

"To our beloved backers, It's been 11 months and 26 days (360 days for those who prefer a more exact count) since we left the gates of Kickstarter and set out to turn our vision into a reality," said Ouya CEO Julie Uhrman as she announced a credit gift of $13.37.

"It wasn't OK that some of you - our most loyal supporters - didn't get your Ouya until after it was on store shelves. Others had an issue with our still-new customer service. Despite your frustrations, you've played on, putting up with our bumps and bugs as we work to get better every day. That being the case, we want to do more than tell you how much we appreciate you - we want to show it."

Since then efforts from the firm to boost game production have been tinged with controversy, and a fund that doubles money raised has been accused of being worked by unscrupulous parties.

There are around 50 games available and coming soon for the Ouya console, and the Free the Games fund is expected to create more. The firm admits that it might have been naive in its expectations, but is hopeful for a more positive future.

"In launching this campaign, we've been called everything from naive and foolish to crazy and idealistic. This is not the first time we've been called any of that. Maybe we're naive... and yes we're definitely idealistic," said Ouya project founder and CEO Julie Uhrman.

"It's gotten us this far. We believe (still) that great games from great developers can be discovered this way - by you. If we can put aside the doubt and embrace the spirit of this fund as it is meant, and of Ouya as it is meant, we might just be surprised by what a little positivity can produce."

Meanwhile there are some 200 titles lined up for the Gamestick and a very expectant market. µ


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