The Ouya microconsole isn’t going to make it to all the backers that supported the project on Kickstarter before it hits retail. That’s one of the promises Ouya made while raising nearly $8.6 million on the crowdfunding platform, and no one is happy about the delay.
“I am pissed,” Ouya chief executive Julie Uhrman wrote in a Kickstarter update. “Some of you have not yet received your Ouya — and, to you, I apologize. I did not promise to ship to most of you before we hit store shelves. I promised to ship to all of you. I’ve been reading your comments, and we are working to resolve this.”
That’s a strong apology, but it comes the same day that Ouya hits retail. The $99 Android-powered device is available now in stores like Target, Best Buy, and GameStop, and this is the first time that Ouya is officially acknowledging the delay. For some backers, the apology isn’t enough.
“I’m sure you are pissed Julie,” Ouya backer Mark Worley wrote in the comments of Uhrman’s post. “Pissed that people like me, who have been waiting for you to publicly acknowledge this failure, have hijacked every post Ouya has made on Facebook or Google+. It shouldn’t have taken you so long to come to the backers with this. We feel you have treated us badly. You kept silent while many of us complained. Your support system failed us.”
In the same post, Ouya head of operations Ken Stephens explained some of the reasons for the delay. These include the logistics of building in China and shipping from Hong Kong. The entire process takes around 20 days, but Stephens says that a console is on the way to anyone who has a tracking number from shipping company DHL.
These DHL tracking numbers, however, are also causing problems for users.
“I know that many of you are frustrated with the DHL tracking system,” wrote Stephens. “While we are working hard to get this issue rectified, I am sorry to say this is still causing problems. When you receive a tracking number, you expect it to work immediately, but sometimes these tracking numbers don’t do that. The reason for this is that when the product leaves Hong Kong, the tracking process does not initiate until it arrives for the first scan at your country’s local depot. As a result, you could have a period of up to 10 days within which the product appears in limbo. This, we all agree, is very frustrating.”
For many backers, this is something they wanted explained a while ago.
“You’re welcome, OUYA, for being an early backer,” Ouya supporter Kev Markis wrote on the company’s Facebook page. “Those consoles you sent to [Best Buy]? Those are ours. You told me to “hurry” to preorder before Feb. 4 so I could get my console by April — not after the fucking street launch in late June. Who knows how long I’ll be waiting, too. Your customer service loves taking down information they already know about. Your company has done a piss-poor job with communication to its customers.”
GamesBeat reached out to Ouya to ask why it waited so long to address these issues and what it hopes to do about unhappy gamers. We will update this post with its response.
The company is positioning the device as the antithesis of the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3. It has a weaker mobile-style processor (the same one that is in a Nexus 7 tablet). It has an app-style store that anyone can develop and submit to with a very quick approval process. The Ouya is also completely open and hackable. That means people can use it to install any games or apps that they want without going through the official Ouya store.
Coming off the Kickstarter, gamers found those ideas exciting. Now, backers just seem angry. Every post that Ouya makes on Facebook is brimming with backers complaining that the company’s support won’t respond to requests or that they haven’t received their tracking number yet.
For as much as Ouya wants to disrupt the market, upset early adopters sure is a problem that traditional gaming companies are familiar with. Making big promises to those dedicated gamers is a good way to get them on your side early, but they are demanding and won’t let you off the hook if they feel mistreated.
Just ask Microsoft.