China is an interesting place to sell computer games. In 2000 following an outcry from parents, the Chinese authorities banned the sale of video games consoles and accessories to help the mental health of China's youth. It didn't stop the problem; instead, the Chinese turned to PC and online gaming, or into the black market to buy illegally imported consoles to satisfy their video game cravings. The market is coloured by the relatively prohibitively high cost of computer hardware for most Chinese and rampant software piracy. Some sources claim that the piracy problem is more reason to keep most entertainment businesses out of China rather than the Government ban!
The Chinese authorities have temporarily removed this console ban as part of the Shanghai Free Trade Zone and this may be encouraging the smaller console manufacturers across the world to take a fresh look at the Chinese gaming market, estimated at $6 billion. This is interesting because it represents an opportunity for the smaller players such as Ouya.
Let me remind readers about the Ouya, which is an Android-based "microconsole" based around a 1.7 GHz Nvidia Tegra 3 processor paired up with 1 GB of RAM, 8 or 16 GB of local storage, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity. It's a project that a lot of technology journalists were excited by (including most of us at Android Headlines) and it reached the kickstarter fundraising goal in just eight hours. However, the release has not been without problems: the main weakness of the Ouya has been a relatively limited supply of games, but there are developers out there bringing Ouya exclusive titles to the platform. After all, having a gaming console is great but content is king.
We've already reported that Ouya has been in talks with Xiaomi for a partnership deal that will see Ouya games playing on Xiaomi's streaming boxes and smart TVs, coming to a Chinese living room soon. However, we've now seen that Ouya has been in preliminary discussions with several Chinese electronic manufacturers including Xiaomi. We should not be too excited about this because Ouya is also reputed to have been in discussion with Google and Amazon, too.
The link with Chinese manufacturers would be interesting given the changes happening in the Chinese market, the dominance of Android over the global smartphone market (giving Ouya a rich supply of potential developers), the low cost of the microconsole (especially useful in a developing country) and perhaps most interesting, how a Chinese company could buy into Ouya's staff talent. I'd not be surprised if a dozen Chinese businesses are already looking at building their own consoles but absorbing Ouya would give them quite the head start.