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Ouya's plans to curate great game content in a crowded online store

Michael McWhertor is a journalist with more than 17 years of experience covering video games, technology, movies, TV, and entertainment.

Ouya founder Julie Uhrman says she doesn't devote much time thinking about what her company's competitors are doing. Ouya, she says, is trying to find its own niche, separate from what traditional video game consoles and mobile devices can offer.

"We are really just trying to carve out our own niche in the marketplace," Uhrman told Polygon at DICE, "and offer something unique and creative that you can't get anywhere else. I don't believe that gamers define themselves by platform anymore. You want to play Call of Duty with 10,000 of your closest friends on Xbox; that is the best place to play that game. The best place to play Triple Town is on your mobile phone.

"There will be a best place to play the next great game and it will be on Ouya. That will be the reason that you buy the box. That will be the reason that you go to it everyday to play."

Uhrman believes that on day one, when the Ouya releases widely at retailers like Amazon, Best Buy, Target and GameStop in June, there will be a wealth of gaming content available from the company's online store.

"You're going to see a great library of games," she said. "I think you're going to see titles that are familiar to you and characters that you know. I think you're going to see new titles from developers that you love that you haven't played on any other device. And I think you're going to be pleasantly surprised and excited by developers that have built something that you never thought was possible for the television."

Ouya is talking to smaller indie developers, AAA console game publishers and "the large mobile publishers" to secure their games for the Android-powered console, Uhrman said. At DICE this week, the Ouya makers announced deals with Double Fine and Words With Friends creator Paul Bettner to bring their games to the console.

"It doesn't matter if you're part of a AAA publisher or you're a team of two. Everybody creates great content, so we want them on Ouya."

Uhrman says the company plans to help expose that content — potentially hundreds of games at or near launch — through its online store in interesting ways. It's clear the company is thinking about how its competitors run their respective online stores, and wants to pursue a different approach.

"Our focus, from a curation perspective is really on engagement," she said. "We don't believe that number of downloads or total dollars spent is a good indicator of a good game. We believe the number of times someone plays a game in a certain period of time or how often is the first game that you play when you turn on your box [is important].

"Those are real metrics of engagement that really signify what a great game is and we're going to be using those type of metrics to help the best content rise to the top so that gamers can find it."

Uhrman says Ouya has other methods to help expose and curate the system's best content, but wasn't ready to talk about those unannounced plans yet.

Nor was she willing to put a number on how many consoles the company would have ready for launch, saying, "We are comfortable on the total number of units we can produce each month, but we are learning things every single day.

"We're seeing growth on a month-to-month basis," Uhrman said of pre-order sales, "and I think the fact that retailers have embraced us is really telling. I mean, they don't embrace every new startup or every new hardware product. They know gaming, they know technology. They are seeing something that their audience wants."

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