Razer Buys Android-Based Game Console Maker Ouya

27 Jul 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Razer Acquires OUYA’s Software Assets, Absorbs Select OUYA Teams.

Razer purchased Ouya’s software assets, including its content catalog and online retail platform. Razer has confirmed its acquisition of Ouya, maker of the Android-based game console that started as one of Kickstarter’s biggest hits before fizzling out when it came to market with few games, limited functionality, and a bad controller.

It has bought the software assets of Ouya; and it has acqui-hired the company’s technical and developer relations teams to expand Razer’s Android TV gaming business, specifically around its Forge TV console and the Cortex gaming platform. While Ouya has been clinging to life for some time now, the fate of the original vision for the Android-powered, living-room gaming hardware seemed to be sealed in March when company executives said that the Ouya would no longer focus on hardware. Polygon reports that the deal includes about over 1,000 games that will be able to run on Razer’s device, making the purchase a quick way to prime it with content. Notably, Razer is not acquiring the hardware part of Ouya’s business, specifically the microconsole and controller that helped make Razer’s name in the first place. The company plans to let Ouya users bring their games, controllers, and accounts to the Cortext TV platform on the Forge, and offer them “deeper product discounts” to purchase Razer hardware. “Razer has a long-term vision for Android TV and Android-based TV consoles, such as the Xiaomi Mi Box and Alibaba Tmall Box, to which Ouya already publishes,” Razer Co-Founder and CEO Min-Liang Tan said in a statement. “Ouya’s work with game developers, both triple A and indies, went a long way in bringing Android games to the living room and Razer intends to further that work.

The company said Monday that it will transition Ouya users to the Forge, offering discounts to switch to the device, and the ability to keep playing games acquired for Ouya’s console. In particular, the Serval gamepad that comes shipped with Forge TV can be used both for the console itself and while on-the-go, thanks to a smartphone docking solution. Razer acquired Ouya in part because of those games, but the startup also came with another interesting asset: Ouya didn’t just sell its own hardware, it also supplied games to devices from Xiaomi and Alibaba.

Uhrman said that she was departing from the company, which seems to make sense given that Razer is more or less stripping it for parts to work on its own software and services. But at least one — Alibaba, which put $10 million into Ouya earlier this year — will now be working more with Razer. (More on that below.) Ouya CEO and co-founder Julie Uhrman will not be coming over to Razer as part the deal, Uhrman and Tan told TechCrunch, although both note that Uhrman supports the transition. Ouya had launched in 2012 with a console that raised over $8.5 million on Kickstarter, but all but stopped developing that part of the business in March 2014 after struggling to attract developers to build for it, and gamers to buy the kit. In the near-future, a migration path will be offered, and at the very least, games, accounts, and controllers can be moved over to Razer’s Cortex TV platform. And while the companies did not comment at the time, it was indirectly confirmed by Mesa, the investment bank that helped broker the deal. (In little twist, Mesa itself was acquired just last week.) Razer says the acquisition closed on June 12.

Tan tells TechCrunch that as of today, Razer’s software platform has “millions of users and over 2 million daily active gamers.” Ouya claims to be the world’s biggest Android TV console publisher, with more than 1,000 games, and the developer relations team will in part be working to keep building that business. The deal marks the end of the line for Ouya as a standalone business after it burst into the world with a mission to expand Android gaming on the TV, and a record-breaking Kickstarter campaign to underscore popular interest in helping to make that happen. “Ouya was created with the goal to give developers more freedom. While this was a hard trail to blaze, we proved that we could bring new thinking to how the games industry operates and we hope we have paved the way for others, allowing all game developers to bring his or her game to the big screen.” But while competition against incumbents like Microsoft and Sony proved to be too challenging for Ouya, the shifts we’ve seen — precipitated by the rise of smaller and mobile computing devices and new experiences altogether — point to there being room for more players. Razer clearly is not ready to give up, though, so while it continues to develop the hardware is hoping for another software boost to the product by way of Ouya.

Prior to the sale, Ouya had raised $33.6 million with investors including Kleiner Perkins, Jay Adelson, Mayfield Fund, Nvidia, Occam Capital and Shasta Ventures.

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