Are we tired of making puns based around the silly name for the Kickstarter-funded, Android-powered, miniature game console, OUYA? No, friends. No we are not. Clearly.
That aside, there's a whole nation of people who are just now hearing of OUYA for the first time: China. That's because Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba reportedly dropped $10 million into OUYA's coffers within the last month, according to The Wall Street Journal -- an investment in trade for bringing OUYA's platform to Alibaba's set-top box. That's quite an investment considering OUYA's poor-to-tepid response in the United States: "The system is rough around the edges in many ways, quite literally when regarding the controller, but the interface and menus also could use work," is what we wrote in our review from 2013. Much of those early edges were eventually smoothed, and OUYA branched out as a software platform known as "OUYA Everywhere." Xiaomi added OUYA everywhere to its set-top boxes last year, and now apparently Alibaba is looking to do something similar.
If that is indeed the case, OUYA isn't saying just yet. CEO Julie Uhrman wouldn't confirm or deny the report, but did tell us this:
"We have been working with partners to bring our platform and games library to their devices (OUYA Everywhere). We're live with Madcatz in the US and working with Xiaomi in China. There are a number of others in the works, with our focus outside the US because there is where we see the most opportunity and growth. Sometimes new markets leapfrog the established ones -- this may be one of those cases."
Indeed, this "may be one of those cases." Either way, the narrative certainly isn't hurting OUYA -- a company that is seemingly pivoting its hardware-centric vision into a profitable software platform. Not exactly where we expected the company to be just two years after a big splash and fizzle in the US! As Uhrman puts it, though, that's a measure of the company's software platform. "Being the largest independent library of Android games for the TV allows us to partner with anyone looking to bring creative content to the TV on boxes that can play games," she says. It sounds like Alibaba may be just the latest in an ongoing push to bring OUYA Everywhere...everywhere, if only someone would confirm it