Gaming company OUYA is in deep water. According to a leaked memo written by OUYA CEO Julie Uhrman sent to advisers and investors, the company had failed to satisfy its debtholder’s conditions which has forced them to put the company up for sale. “We are looking for expressions of interest by the end of this month,” Uhrman wrote, so you can expect the sale to happen quickly. The question is who will be the buyer, and will it be Amazon?
OUYA raised $8.5 million in a very successful Kickstarter campaign where they sold over 50,000 of their $99 Android based microconsoles. Things seemed to go downhill from there when recipients of the first console shipments, along with media publications, gave the device lackluster reviews. Since then, the device has found some popularity with cord cutters using the discounted console as a fairly capable XBMC / Kodi box.
OUYA seems to be giving little attention to hardware. A new console doesn’t seem to be on the horizon anytime soon and the links on OUYA’s own website to buy their existing console from Amazon and Target lead shoppers to a 404 error page and a console-less search result. Their primary value today is in their game library. In recent news they’ve signed an agreement with Xiaomi and one with Alibaba, both Chinese electronics and commerce companies, to deliver OUYA games on certain televisions and set-top boxes. Uhrman boasted in her memo that they “have the largest library of Android content for TV (still more than Amazon).” That’s not entirely true since the OUYA library current has 1,113 apps to the Fire TV’s 1,483 apps. If you assume Uhrman is referring to just games, then it’s likely a valid statement if you assume the vast majority of OUYA’s library consists of games and the Fire TV currently sits at 736 games in its library.
Amazon is OUYA’s biggest competitor, but does Amazon have anything to gain from acquiring the relatively small company? When Amazon was developing the Fire TV in secret, they contact some of OUYA’s most popular developers to port their games over to the Fire TV. Amazon’s developer relations team still uses OUYA’s app library as a recruiting list of sorts to bolster the Fire TV’s app offerings. Many of OUYA’s top games are already available on the Fire TV, and more are being ported over everyday. The developer of Super Pixalo, for example, was contacted by Amazon last August to bring his popular OUYA game to the Fire TV, which arrived on the device in December. Amazon seems to be doing a fine job acquiring OUYA’s most valuable asset, it’s app library, without needing to acquire the company itself. If they do put in a bid, it’ll be for direct access to OUYA’s 40,000 registered developers and passionate community.