Is OUYA in trouble? Original founder and VP of product development departs from company

Uh-oh. There might be some trouble in OUYA-land, though it’s entirely possible we’re just reading this story with too much FUD in our eyes. OUYA founding member and vice president of product development Muffi Ghadiali has left the company on his own terms, according to TechCrunch. While there’s no clear indication as to why Ghadiali stepped down at this point in time, you wouldn’t be alone in thinking that he might be looking to abandon what could only be described as a sinking ship.

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OUYA gained tons of steam on its way to becoming the first huge Kickstarter sensation. The project generated millions of dollars on the crowd-sourced funding website, and the company ended up gaining much, much more through several rounds of investor funding. OUYA — an Android-based gaming console that prides itself on being open and inexpensive — had suddenly become more than just a few folks trying to sell an Android box. They’d become a legit company, and they’d looked toward a very wide horizon.

There were a few things keeping OUYA back from the start, though. While third-party development seemed full and fruitful, it wasn’t long before folks figured out that the experience didn’t offer much more than what you’d be able to find on today’s smartphones and tablets. OUYA was able to snag a couple of cool timed exclusives, but they weren’t enough to convince many folks to go out and spend $100 on this thing (and, hey, they’d be coming to other devices soon anyway).

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You also have to consider that the hardware was outdated before it even launched. As nice as Tegra 3 was at the time OUYA was announced, it was quickly outclassed by NVIDIA’s own Tegra 4 and Qualcomm’s Snapdragon line of chipsets. It only had 1GB of RAM. It simply didn’t seem equipped for long term success. Reports of slow hardware sales and meager profits for developers had tons of people writing the OUYA off.

Couple all of that with the fact that tons of other players are starting to throw their hats into the Android gaming console ring, and you can see why OUYA might not be as magical as it once seemed.

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But the OUYA isn’t dead if you’re to believe the following official statement from the company regarding the departure of Ghadiali:

OUYA is focusing more on the next phase of the business and product development. We’ve made some recent changes including the departure of Muffi Ghadiali who was invaluable during the launch of OUYA. As is to be expected, OUYA is an ever-changing business, and as we continue to grow our needs shift accordingly.

We’re especially intrigued by that first part about “next phase” of business and product development. We can’t be sure if this means they’re working on some sort of follow-up product, if they’re striking more deals between developers for exclusive content (they had over 10,000 developers on board before the thing was even released), or anything in between. That said, it sounds like OUYA won’t be going out without a fight, so we’ll definitely keep an eye out for whatever they might be doing from this point forward.

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  • King_James_The_Wicked

    They need over the top hardware for a gaming system to stay in the phone markets game. I don’t see the original OUYA system selling much now.

    • Ben

      Yeah Tegra 3 is now 2 generations behind, and by the time it released Tegra 4 had already been around for a while.

      That said, they can’t put out a new Ouya every year, because people won’t upgrade. The “cheap gaming console” market won’t upgrade yearly or even ever 2 years.

      If Ouya tanks maybe Jackbox will release YDKJ Party for the Play store. :p

  • shonangreg

    I don’t know, but didn’t users have to get all apps from Ouya’s specialized store (or made special for the Ouya, anyway)? I can’t see going for an android gaming console unless it can load most regular apps from google play. A special selection of games is fine, but it can’t be necessary.

  • Thomas

    This thing was a bust from the word go.

    • Ben

      Easy to say that now. I thought it was a splendid idea when it was kickstarted and I have my launch version attached to my TV.

      • phinn

        Nah it was definitely a bust from day 1. Most people just wanted a cheap box to flash Roms on an to run emulators and stream media to, exactly why I bought it.

        Sadly it’s dead in that department. Poor coding issues related to network performance, poor external device support, zero support past android 4.1, and now what looks like dead Rom support have killed this little wonder.

        It does however run all the usual emulators with a ps3 controller splendidly tho.

      • roberto.elena

        Now? Lots of people said this was going to be a failure even during the kickstarter. I’m one of them.

      • Thomas

        As they say….one born every minute.

    • phor11

      It was a REALLY great idea when they first announced it in July of 2012.
      They were just far too slow in bringing it to market.

      The tech world iterates CRAZY fast.
      By the time it actually hit shelves, the chromecast was also on shelves and could handle most of the media use-cases that made the OUYA a compelling sell for 1/3 the price.

      All that was left was the gaming side of things which were severely hampered by the poor touch control performance of the controller and the lack of the Google Play store.

      If it had released in October 2012 with the play store and support to use your phone/tablet as input instead of the controller; I think we’d be having an entirely different conversation about it’s success.

  • pr0xidian

    I rooted my ouya and it has been a great emulation machine. :P

  • Modman

    At least it will go down in history as the first affordable android gaming system ever.

    Was it the first or was Nvidia shield first?
    The price on the shield and Madcats are ridiculous.
    Android game systems are not developed enough
    To warrant a high price tag yet.
    A Roku costs 99 dollars and I do a lot more with my ouya than I ever did with Roku, so I got my moneys worth. Between NBA League pass and XBMC ive seen every nba game this year live on my ouya, without cable. Ive enjoyed
    Another World and The Game and ive had a blast playing classic emulated games on my tv. Lasy people look else where, if you want everything handed to you waste 400 bucks on PS4 or Xbox one.
    I personally dont have that kind of money to waste. Even if its discontinued i already got my moneys worth for my outa.

    • meltedmoops999

      Does the Xperia Play count? It is half phone though.

    • Jay

      You pay a premium for better quality. To even compare OUYA to any major gaming console is ridiculously absurd. Glad you got your money’s worth but your comment comes across more like your trying to validate your purchase more than anything else. It’s okay to be upset, I would’ve been too if I had purchased this.

  • Modman

    The Cave stinkin autocorrect

  • Jody Schoolcraft

    The way they kept treating the initial Kickstarter backers is a definite indication that the company is poorly ran.

  • Aaron Mayeux

    Did y’all stop by the Pressy tent at CES?

  • Josh Flowers

    I’ve just run emulators (64, snes, gameboy, etc) on my spare G-Nex phone, connected to the tv through an MHL adapter & used a PS3 controller wirelessly…Ouya seemed cool until i realized, as stated in the article, i already possessed something that surpassed its capabilities.

  • Erstam

    I have one and love it for emulation and media streaming. I can’t help but think they would have done a lot better with play support. I have play store side loaded, but most won’t do that I know.

  • Cloudscout

    I’ve noticed that the GamePop is MIA at this point, too. When BlueStacks announced it and started taking pre-orders over 8 months ago, they said they were aiming for a winter release. It’s now winter and they haven’t shared any details or updates in months.

  • Modman

    Its amazing people expect to much for to little. The thing was only 99 bucks.
    Dead rom support? Mame and Reicast work great when sideloaded.
    Even if ouya the corporation went bust, the hack mod community could still unofficially support it. Most things that support mojo cotroller will just work on it like dd trilogy. Its evident people dont see the big picture here. Even if ouya dies someone will take the android game system idea further. It doesn’t need to be ouya. If there was no ford model t we wouldnt have the cars we have today. Someone has to be first success or failure. Most inventors died thinking they were failures till someone else to their invention and improved it. It was dead before it srarted? Dude you are way to negative.

  • Modman

    You are shortsighted it is evident. Chrome cast doesnt play games and it isnt open. Are you an xbox 360 of ps4 fanboy? Android is about openess and hackability. Forget Ouya the corporation the big picture is android gamung systems in general. Can xbmc be loaded on chromecast to watch every live sports game over the internet free without cable? Ouya is what you make of it. Just like everything in the android platform. If you dont like it buy another game system.
    You seem like someone who wants everything handed to him.
    The harsh critics should stop wasting their time and go use a closed system like microsoft or Sony. Nothing innovative there. Just like the other close eco system apple.

    • sdrawkcab25

      If OUYA wants to be successful, they need to appeal to the MASSES, not the limited hacking/modding/rom-ing community. Successful products NEED to work right out of the box, not be outdated right out of the box. It’s great that OUYA does want you want it to do, but it is short sighted of you to think OUYA can be considered a successful product with its current feature set.

      Android has succeeded because A LOT of people who DON’T root/hack/rom etc use the product. The openness of android is great but it is not why it is successful.

  • Bill Perrotta

    That is a good point. But realise, there may be a company other than Ouya that will pick up where Ouya left off, if Ouya doesn’t get its act together. Being Open, the concept of a good Android system is to good to think Another Company won’t pick up where it left off. For progress the first android systems needed to be created success or failure. And it isn’t a total failure because by hacking modding it you can see the potential an android gaming system has.