Ouya introduces $60 season pass

Ouya hasn’t been doing too well lately, and in an effort to boost the Android powered microconsole’s fortunes the company has revealed a new All Access Pass that gives customers access to every game on the system for a year. For the moment Ouya says this is just an “extremely limited test” to “learn more about our gamers and their purchase habits.” The $60 pass sounds like a great buy for new customers, but the new subscription-based sales model hasn’t pleased everyone. Those who had already paid the full price for games on the Ouya may feel their investment has been devalued by the new pass, which offers 800 games – worth more than $2,000 – for the price of one AAA console title. Developers have also voiced their outrage over the changes on Twitter, pointing out that no one asked them about changing the way their games were sold.

Ouya developer Robert Fearon took to social media to share a letter Ouya sent him to let him know about the pass. The letter describes the new pricing system as a “test” and guarantees developers will still get their 70 percent cut of their game’s listed price. Ouya also asks that developers not change the price of their game just to get a larger cut. “The subscription will apply to all entitlements (one time purchases) in the Marketplace under $30. Consumables (in-game, multiple purchasable items) will NOT be included,” reads the letter. “Please note, during this test, there will be NO change to how you get paid – in other words, if anyone with the pass “purchases” your game, you still get your 70 percent.”

Developers can still change the price of their games during the program, but Ouya reserves the right to remove a game from the storefront if it feels the studio is abusing the system. Fearon wasn’t shy about expressing his displeasure with the move, or sharing his thoughts one what this meant for the future of the console. “Obvious now that next to no-one is buying anything on the OUYA,” he wrote. “It’s also obvious that the OUYA itself isn’t shifting in number. There’s certainly some truth in that claim. Ouya can only make money off the all-access pass if the average customer has been making less than $60 of purchases in the last year. By offering most of its content for such a low price, the console maker is suggesting that it thinks $60 a year is the most it can expect to make.

The picture gets even more dire if it’s taken into account that if a free download under the all-access pass isn’t revoked at the end of a year, Ouya is betting against its current library ever being worth more than $60. As Thomas Was Alone developer Mike Bithell points out on Twitter, “How is anyone with a free reign of that store going to _not_ spend past their investment.. This doesn’t work if Ouya plan to pay devs”.

While this might seem like a clear sign of the pending demise of the console, there is some hope. If Ouya bet right and this deal raises interest in the console enough to raise sales the price of the season pass could be raised as well, giving the company a second wind on a new business model. Ouya has already had to do away with its requirement that all games offer a free demo, and it seems high time that the company began reconsidering its business model as a whole. With that said, the opinion of developers seems to be that this is a desperate and reckless move from a company on its last leg.