The Ouya, a new Android-based video game console, was recently released to mixed reviews. Some people like it, some people hate it, and some people really, really hate it.
The Ouya got its start on the popular crowd funding site Kickstarter where they raised $8.6 million dollars. Later they also got an injection of cash from some venture capitalists.
The Ouya has had myriad problems. Everything from buttons that stick, to an updated controller where the buttons still stick for some people, to wi-fi issues, controller responsiveness and lag issues, speed and stability of some games, shipping issues where those that backed the project on Kickstarter and were promised early delivery of their consoles still haven’t gotten theirs even though the consoles are now available at retail stores, and so on. Each of those issues could take up an article all on its own. But this article isn’t about those. This article is about Ouya’s credit card mess.
What it comes down to is this: When you first turn on an Ouya and create an Ouya account, you must put in a credit card number. At one point there was an option where this step could be skipped, but they’ve changed the system to where it is no longer possible to skip. Keep in mind that all the games have a free demo available and there are other free apps as well. Nevertheless, to use any of these things, despite being free, you must put in a credit card number, which then gets saved in your account. Not even the all-powerful Google, when creating a new Google account to download free Android apps with, requires this of you.
This issue has incensed many. I’ve read reports of people even returning their Ouyas because of it. Ouya says the reason for this is convenience. When you play a game you like, they don’t want you to have to slow down in order to buy it. They do it because of you, for you. They know better than you.
The Ouya sells itself as being an “open source console”, where gamers can play how they want. And yet they don’t give gamers the choice of how they want their credit card information handled. They don’t give them the choice of entering the information for each and every purchase if they so choose, or of not entering it at all and simply enjoying the free items on offer.
This, which many view as tantamount to an invasion of privacy, has been what has truly put me off the Ouya more than anything else. I was interested in it at one time. I am interested in it no longer. Here, ladies and gentlemen, is a company that despite all its claims and gesticulations, doesn’t know how to follow the open source creed of user choice. That doesn’t sound very “open” to me.