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百元游戏机叫板Xbox

百元游戏机叫板Xbox

Peter Suciu 2012年08月16日
Ouya游戏机的设计师们原打算在融资平台Kickstarter上募集90万美元。然而最终它们募得了800多万美元,一跃成为成为技术界最受热议的设备制造商。它不仅价格低廉,而且还计划免费提供游戏,同时还将向所有独立游戏开发者开放,有望冲击微软Xbox 360、索尼PlayStation 3以及任天堂的Wii,改变游戏市场的现状。

    Ouya的表现超级棒。硬件新创企业Ouya于今年早些时候在大众融资平台Kickstarter网站展开募资活动,目标是融资95万美元。最终,Ouya获得了足够关注,所募资金一举超过了850万美元。

    Ouya是一家位于加州洛杉矶的初创企业,Ouya这个元音单词的读音颇为有趣。该公司希望通过销售廉价游戏系统来颠覆传统游戏机市场。Ouya的游戏机依托于谷歌(Google)Android系统,将搭载四核处理器,配备1GB内存、8GB内置flash存储、HDMI接口、Wifi无线连接,以及无线遥控手柄。与微软(Microsoft)、任天堂(Nintendo)和索尼(Sony)不同,Ouya并不打算销售游戏卡,它将采用应用程序商店模式来销售游戏,而苹果正是依靠后者成功地在游戏市场站稳了脚跟。

    Ouya的支持者(目前共有64,416人)显然认为这个想法很有前途。刚刚获得资金支持的Ouya宣布,新游戏机有望于明年三月上市。咨询公司DFC Intelligence的分析师乔治•克尼斯称:“通过Kickstarter网站来开发一个全新的硬件平台,这绝对是个新颖的点子。最终筹集到的850万美元彻底震惊了我们。一般情况下,我们会认为这类游戏机产品纯属异想天开。”

    事实上,Ouya并不是第一家尝试开发开源视频游戏主机的公司。它的不同之处在哪?那就是,几乎没有一家公司哪怕坚持到了原型阶段。例如,Indrema 曾打算推出基于Linux开源系统的L600 Entertainment System游戏机。不过,这家公司除了生产新闻稿,几乎没拿出任何东西。Ouya则大不一样,它已经筹集到了资金,获得了广泛的关注,而更为重要的是,一些知名公司已经和它达成了合作意向。

    Ouya得到了《最终幻想》(Final Fantasy)系列开发商Square Enix和《刀魂》(Soul Calibur)系列开发商Namco Bandai的支持,因此一些高品质作品的推出成为可能。这对于吸引付费玩家至关重要。克尼斯认为:“如果他们能为Ouya带来一些AAA级的大制作,那么其价格确实对大众玩家非常有吸引力。当然,想在成熟市场站稳脚跟绝非易事,一场艰苦卓绝的战争在所难免。”

    不过,Ouya表示,它的目的不仅仅是占领市场。它希望通过改变市场来改变人们游戏的方式。Ouya首席执行官朱莉•乌尔曼称:“我们的目标是挑战游戏市场的现状。”Ouya并不使用定制硬件,从而避免了传统游戏主机的开发周期,而且还有助于降低产品成本。“在传统游戏机上,购买两个游戏的钱就超过了一台Ouya游戏机,更不要说Ouya的游戏还是免费的。”

    Ouya表示会在游戏机发售时提供游戏,这个时间点对任何新视频游戏主机都至关重要。上月,Ouya宣布与OnLive达成合作,后者的游戏流媒体服务将为Ouya提供游戏。每一款游戏都是免费的——至少试玩版是免费的。乌尔曼强调:“我们提供的每一款游戏一定免费。”之后,开发者们可以决定如何获得收入。不过,让游戏免费可以避免盗版,而且这也有利于独立游戏的开发。

    任何懂Android编程的人都可以直接在Ouya上开发游戏,这一点与微软(Microsoft)Xbox 360、索尼(Sony)PlayStation 3或是任天堂(Nintendo)的Wii都不同,后三者都需要游戏开发者使用特定的软件开发套件才能进行游戏开发。

    当然,这也可能加剧竞争。“这个特点使得准入门槛极低,可能会有人闯进来,然后击败他们,”咨询公司M2 Research的首席分析师比利•皮金警告称。“虽然这个举动迎合了开源市场,但我预计会出现其它基于Android的娱乐系统。”

    同样,不难看到,Ouya这样的游戏系统可能很容易被内置到电视中,而不仅仅是连接到电视上。调研公司IHS Screen Digest最新发布的《游戏情报服务洞察力报告》(Games Intelligence Service Insight Report)指出,全球消费者在联网电视上玩视频游戏的支出到2016年将增至16亿美元,而就在2012年,该数字仅为8,800万美元。只需一个小小的飞跃,Ouya就可以内置到联网电视中,后者的数量将从2012年的1亿部增至2016年的8亿部。乌尔曼称:“我们相信盒式游戏机只是过渡产品。它将来会被电视内置芯片和处理器取代。”

    现在似乎万事俱备,只欠东风,Ouya剩下的就是发售了。“我们将数量上调至8万,。”乌尔曼称。“筹集到更多的钱意味着我们能在首个销售日提供更大数量的产品。”这样一来,装机量也应该会更大,这是每家游戏机制造商成功所必须的。皮金说:“这个系统搭建在Android上,Android平台十分强大,但也非常开放。这可能预示了我们未来的走向。”

    译者:项航

    It could be the ultimate high score. Hardware start-up Ouya began a Kickstarter campaign earlier this year hoping to raise $950,000. In the end, it generated enough excitement to bring in more than $8.5 million.

    The Los Angeles, California-based startup with the funny sounding, vowel-laden name aims to upend the traditional console gaming market by selling a low-cost gaming system. Based on Google's (GOOG) Android operating system, the system will feature a quad-core processor, 1GB of RAM, 8GB internal flash storage, HDMI and Wifi connections as well as a wireless controller. Ouya won't be in the business of selling discs -- unlike Microsoft (MSFT), Nintendo (NTDOY) and Sony (SNE). Instead, the company will adopt the app store model that has made Apple's (AAPL) products into a gaming phenomenon.

    Ouya's backers -- of which there are currently 63,416 -- certainly think the idea has merit. The newly funded company announced that it is on track to deliver the console in March of next year. "The idea of starting a new hardware platform via Kickstarter is definitely a new idea and we are impressed with the final $8.5 million tally," says George Chronis, analyst with DFC Intelligence. "Normally we would dismiss such console products automatically as just another attack on windmills."

    In fact, Ouya is not the first company to attempt creating an open source video game console. The difference? Few that tried even made it to the prototype stage. The Indrema L600 Entertainment System was to be based on the Linux open source operating system, for example, but the company produced little beyond press releases. Ouya by contrast has raised money, massive amounts of interest and most importantly has lined up crucial partnerships.

    With support from publishers such as Square Enix, the developer of the Final Fantasy series, and Namco Bandai, the developer of the Soul Calibur franchise, the system could line up some quality titles. That will be crucial to attract paying players. "If they can get some knockout AAA titles for the Ouya, they do have a price point to appeal to the masses," added Chronis. "Of course, it is a major uphill battle to get any type of traction with these types of devices in established markets."

    But Ouya reportedly is looking to do more than just get traction. It is looking to change the way the games are played by changing the market. "What we did is challenge the status quo of the video game market," says Julie Uhrman, CEO at Ouya, who noted that the company is avoiding the traditional console development cycle by not using custom hardware, and offering a more affordable system in the process. "For less than the cost of two games on traditional hardware you are getting a system where the games will be free to play."

    Ouya has also made sure that content will be there at launch, a crucial time for any new video game system. Last month Ouya announced a partnership to provide content from the OnLive game streaming service. And every title, every game will be available -- at least as a trial -- for free. "All the games that we're offering have to be free to play," Uhrman stressed. After that it will be up to the developers to determine what revenue stream to adopt, but by making the content-free should discourage piracy while also encouraging independent game development.

    Unlike with Microsoft's Xbox 360, Sony's PlayStation 3 or Nintendo's Wii, which all require game developers to have special software development kits to write software for a game system, the Ouya allow anyone capable of programming for Android to develop games directly from the console.

    That could also open the door for competition, of course. "This presents a very low barrier to entry, someone could come in and knock them out," cautions Billy Pidgeon, principal analyst with M2 Research. "While this plays to the open market, I expect that there will be other entertainment networks that can be built up from Android."

    It also isn't hard to see that game systems such as Ouya could very easily be built into the TV, instead of just connecting to it. According to the recent IHS Screen Digest Games Intelligence Service Insight Report worldwide consumer spending on video games on connected TVs is forecast to grow to $1.6 billion in 2016, up from just $88 million in 2012. It would require only a short leap to see Ouya built into those connected TVs, which could grow from 100 million in 2012 to 800 million by 2016. "We believe the box is temporary," says Uhrman. "We see this going to chips and processors inside the TV."

    Now all that's seems left is for the company to start selling the device. "We upped quantity to 80,000 units," said Uhrman. "Raising more money just means we get to deliver more units on day one." That should in turn create a larger install base, something every console makers must have to succeed. Says Pidgeon, "This system is built on Android, which is robust but is also open. This could be an apparition of where things go from here."

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