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On July 2nd, 2012, The Verge reported on a startup found on AngelList called Ouya that was planning on building a $99 gaming console on Android that was “built to be hacked.” The console was said to be designed by Yves Béhar under the direction of Ouya founder and former IGN executive Julie Uhrman. The following day, a number of other gaming blogs and message boards also reported on the company including Kotaku, NeoGAF and Eurogamer. On July 10th, 2012, a Kickstarter campaign was launched to fund the initial round of consoles.
Within 10 hours, Ouya raised more than $1 million, surpassing its $950,000 goal. After its 30 day campaign, Ouya raised $8,596,474, becoming Kickstarter’s most funded Gaming campaign and the second-most funded campaign of all time. At the time, Ouya was also the fastest project to reach a million dollars and the project to recieve the most funding within 24 hours, however both of these records were broken by the Veronica Mars film campaign in March 2013.
Ouya maintains active accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ where members of the team interact with fans and answer questions about the console. Their YouTube account has uploaded a number of videos of Ouya gameplay. Additionally, Ouya’s support team has a Twitter account to help people solve problems in real time. Fans have discussed the console on Tumblr with the hashtag #ouya and on Reddit, where /r/Ouya has more than 7,200 subscribers.
Many gaming and tech blogs highly anticipated the Ouya console from the start including IGN, Gamespot and Wired. In August 2012, Time Techland compiled a list of things that were still unknown about the console, despite the massive Kickstarter support it received. In December 2012, the first 1,200 developer consoles were sent out to Kickstarter backers, many of which shared unboxing videos (shown below) and in depth reviews of the hardware and available software.
On March 28th, 2013, final versions of the Ouya consoles began shipping out to backers. As early as April 3rd, one of the first reviews of the console appeared on Engadget, who noted the system was “rough around the edges.” That week, The Verge reviewed the console as unfinished, giving it a score of 3.5 out of 10 and Forbes reported that many early reviews (examples shown below) were not favorable for the new console. However, a Kotaku piece reminded fans that these were early prototypes and meant to be more of a beta test than the finished console.
In May, additional reviews of the console were posted on ReadWrite, IT World and Wired. On June 25th, 2013, the Ouya launched in retail stores with more than 160 free games, selling out nearly immediately on Amazon and the GameStop website. However, approximately 7,500 Kickstarter backers did not receive their consoles prior to this official launch, causing Ouya to triple its support team to handle incoming requests.
ESA vs. Ouya at E3
At 2013’s Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), Ouya chose to set up an unauthorized booth outside of the venue instead of paying for a spot on the show floor. After hearing of this booth, the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) hired several semi-trucks to park in front of the booth, which the Ouya team countered by renting out the spaces in front of the trucks to post signage directing showgoers to their displays. Police were later called on the Ouya booth, where officers inspected the team’s permits and let them stay, but the ESA denied making this call.
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