Ouya teaming up with Wikipad to expand indie game app store

The deal marks the latest agreement in its "Ouya Everywhere" effort, helping the company expand beyond the TV.

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Ouya's app store is striking out from its home-console roots. Ouya

Video game company Ouya has added a new partnership to its ranks, bringing its once TV-focused app store to mobile devices.

The startup, which launched its first console last year, said it has struck a deal with Wikipad, a device maker that sells tablets designed for video games. The deal, the terms of which were not disclosed, is the third such agreement Ouya has struck with device makers through an initiative it calls "Ouya Everywhere."

"We're committed to bringing our games and content to a wider audience," said Julie Uhrman, Ouya's chief executive, in an interview. She said agreements like the deal with Wikipad will help the company increase its user base.

Ouya began as a startup seeking customers on the crowd funding site Kickstarter in 2012. For $99, the company offered a video game console that plugged into your TV.

But it had an unusual twist: the device was built using parts from a tablet, and was powered by a modified version of Google's Android operating system. The company courted attention from smaller game developers, often called independents -- or "indies." The project became a hit, topping $8.5 million in pledges and officially launching last year.

Since then, the company has been attempting to create an ecosystem of devices and software that work together. What it hasn't done is release specifics about its business. Ouya hasn't discussed its user base, revenue, profit or how many consoles it has sold. Uhrman said the company is focused on growth, and that its partnerships and increasing number of games and developers indicates the company's health.

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Wikipad

"The general message is that Ouya is thriving and doing well," she said. "We have a strong brand and community of developers."

Today, Ouya sells two variants of its console: its original device, and one with additional memory to store more apps and games. It also has relationships with retailers such as Amazon and Target. So far, Uhrman said, Ouya has struggled to keep up with demand for its higher-end model.

Ouya is also courting game developers for its app store. When the device launched in June of 2013, it counted 178 games available to customers and 17,000 developers who had signed up to make software on its platform. By October 2013, the company counted 500 games and 25,000 developers. Today, the company said it now counts nearly 900 games and 37,000 developers.

Some of those games have become so popular that they expanded beyond the Ouya ecosystem. TowerFall, a multiplayer action game, was released on Sony's PlayStation 4 and PC earlier this year.

Ouya has also attracted larger game makers, such as Square Enix, which began releasing elderly console games such as Final Fantasy III for the device.

But, Uhrman says, the company needs more growth. "One thing Ouya misses today is millions and millions of users," she said.

To get there, Ouya began Ouya Everywhere. The company's first partnership was with Mad Catz Interactive, which produces a TV game console called the Mojo, also based on Android. Uhrman said she is "pleasantly surprised" by the amount of Mojo devices that have connected with her company's app store since the partnership began. Ouya also agreed to work with NanoTech to offer its software on the company's TV set-top boxes.

Wikipad will likely help further, but it also allows Ouya to expand beyond TVs for the first time, while remaining comfortably true to its roots. The Wikipad, like Ouya, runs on Android software. But the device itself is a tablet, which plugs into a shell that acts as a controller, complete with various buttons and joysticks, saving Ouya's developers from having to rewrite their games.

"What it does it open up the library of games to more people," she said.

 

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