The so-called “people’s console” is now someplace where many people actually buy video game systems — and just in time for the holiday shopping season.
The Ouya is available through online retailers such as Amazon and a few retailers (like some Best Buy locations), but now the $100 Android microconsole is coming to all 1,800 Target before the end of October, Ouya chief executive Julie Uhrman told GamesBeat in an interview.
This is the first time a retailer will offer the $100 gaming hardware on a national level. But whether this helps system sales — and sales of games through the Ouya Discover online store — remain to be seen.
“We’re focusing a lot on retail,” Uhrman told GamesBeat. “This month we are going full chain with Target.”
Previously, you might have seen an Ouya at Best Buy or Target, but no store carried the device in every one of their locations. For this reason, Uhrman and her marketing team avoided spending money on a national ad campaign. That is likely going to change, as Uhrman says the company can now do coast-to-coast marketing and have a “national footprint.”
To further support Ouya at Target, the console manufacturer is sending out customized displays that include new packaging for the device and its Ouya gift cards for the system’s Discover store. The art on the new boxes and gift cards focuses on some of the bigger games, like Sonic the Hedgehog 4, The Walking Dead, and others.
In addition to the displays, Ouya intends to send out playable demo kiosks to Target in early 2014.
“We think the’re s a great benefit for people to touch and experience Ouya,” Uhrman said. “And to see the type of games that are on it.”
We’ve reached out to Target to see when it expects to have the systems in every store and how it plans to display the demo kiosks.
It’s very likely that gamers will make PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One the must-have items for the upcoming gift-giving holidays. Anticipation for those next-gen devices is high after a lengthy current generation and both debut a matter of days before Black Friday, but Ouya isn’t just sitting by and letting those looming beasts overshadow it.
Ouya began as a crowdfunding project on Kickstarter with a $950,000 goal. It ended up raising more than $8 million in funds during that campaign.
The Ouya runs a custom version of Android. It doesn’t use disks or cartridges like traditional consoles from Nintendo or Sony. Instead, gamers can get all of their titles online through the system’s digital-download marketplace.
That method of distributing software isn’t working very well for Ouya and its developers so far. Early reports (from sites like Gamasutra) indicate that even the console’s biggest titles are struggling to move copies.
To help out developers, the company has started things like its Free The Games fund. That promotion has it matching the contributions gamers make to Ouya-exclusive Kickstarters. That program came under scrutiny when some of the crowdfunding games were raising a lot of cash per contributor.
The system itself is also an underwhelming experience. It isn’t capable of playing triple-A blockbusters like the PlayStation 3, but it’s not the quality of the games that caused us to give the Ouya a rough review — It’s the overall experience.
Getting into Target nationally can’t hurt Ouya’s chances, but it is also likely not enough to fix all that ails the “people’s console.”