Embattled gaming company Ouya might be in even more trouble: according to a leaked memo, it's putting itself up for sale in order to cut back its debt. Fortune reports that Ouya CEO Julie Uhrman sent a memo to investors and advisers earlier this month, saying that the company had failed to satisfy one of its investors' conditions and that renegotiation over the debt had been unsuccessful. In order to make up the shortfall, Ouya would have to find a buyer quickly. "We are looking for expressions of interest by the end of this month," she reportedly wrote.
In 2012, Ouya ran a phenomenally successful crowdfunding campaign for its tiny Android gaming console, raising $8.5 million. The Ouya's sleek design, low price, and promised "hackability" were all selling points, but early versions launched with a clunky interface and undercooked controllers, and the company had trouble building a catalog of TV-friendly Android games. Other non-traditional consoles had similar problems, and Ouya's attempts to fix them didn't always go well. It introduced financial rewards for developers who built Ouya-exclusive games, but early candidates ended up being accused of gaming the system, forcing an overhaul of the plan. Its most successful games expanded to other platforms, reducing the incentive to buy the hardware. Most recently, it dropped plans for a limited run of Reading Rainbow consoles.
Ouya has had more success licensing its platform and games. In her memo, Uhrman boasted that "we have the largest library of Android content for the TV (still more than Amazon)," counting over 1,000 apps. Amazon's Android-derived Fire TV box was launched in April of 2014; the company currently lists 1,472 results for Fire TV apps, so the statement might depend on the definition of Android content. Regardless, last year, Ouya partnered with Xiaomi to introduce Ouya content on its set-top boxes. Earlier this year, it reportedly got $10 million in funding from Chinese e-commerce group Alibaba, integrating its games with Alibaba's own operating system and set-top boxes. But this money, apparently, may not have been enough to help shore up the company's finances.
Verge Video archive: Reviewing the Ouya (20130)