The Austin Chronicle

SXSW Interactive Keynote: Julie Uhrman

By James Renovitch, December 11, 2012, 11:18am, Picture in Picture

South by Southwest announced founder and CEO at OUYA, Julie Uhrman, will be one of the keynote speakers for the Interactive Fest. OUYA is a gaming console that is designed to get smaller games that have been relegated to touchscreens and PCs and put them on your TV. The OUYA Kickstarter campaign made $8.6 million, the second highest in the site's history.

Every OUYA is also a developer's kit, allowing anyone with the programming chops to create a game for others to play. Gaming consoles like the Wii and Xbox require expensive software development kits and an often exhaustive approval process to get a game in front of players. This has driven many developers to the casual market (e.g., the App Store) and PCs where the barriers to entry are comparatively nil.

If interviewer Joshua Topolsky of gaming site The Verge does his job well Uhrman will address concerns about the free-to-play model that the system requires of all of its games. This doesn't mean that all the games will be free, but everything on the system necessarily will have either a free version or make money through microtransactions within the game.

The approval process for games is all but non-existent (just like the App Store) which, on one hand lets edgy and experimental games find an audience. In that way it's a prefect fit for independent developers. On the other hand though it can open the system up to clones of popular games since there is no one to check for copyright infringement.

The OUYA is scheduled to ship in March (convenient timing for SXSW) for a measly $99. Whether it will "upend the console market" as Uhrman has claimed, has yet to be seen, but one doesn't make millions of dollars via crowdsourcing without creating a stir.

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