OUYA CEO Julie Uhrman is a good speaker, and did a stellar job promoting the principles and ambitions of her nascent, Android-based game console at a Q & A in Chicago last night…
But I’d rather write about her cohort, Bob, who got called to the stage halfway through the event to answer questions about the console’s hardware, specifically the gamepad.
Bob, whose last name I didn’t get (I instantly started thinking of him as OUYA Bob), answered questions about the differences between the developer model of the gamepad versus the consumer model. He revealed that he’d be flying to Taiwan the next day to hash out the final design/materials/details of the consumer model gamepad. He came off as super smart, with a slight awkwardness that might have come from his being wayyy more knowledgeable about the OUYA than anyone else in the room (or world!).
Talking to Bob after the lecture, I learned that the way he got connected with OUYA was by volunteering on their KickStarter campaign (which raised over $8 million after setting a goal of $950 thousand.) His volunteer position eventually led to him being hired.
Before signing on with OUYA he was a reporter for a local paper writing about what farmers should feed their cows.
“I was, like, writing about how to get good marbling in your beef,” he told me.
I must have been putting out the signals that I was desperate to get involved, because he then volunteered some of the best advice I’ve heard.
“Do anything you can for free.”
A volunteer position that he took on in his spare time turned into a dream job working on a new video game console that allows him to fly to Taiwan to tell manufacturers how to make rubberized joysticks that feel good.
What he was telling me is that the freemium model so popular in software, and especially games, works for people too. Offer your services for free, get them hooked, and then sell them the really good stuff. Bob worked on a killer Kickstarter campaign that earned 10x its goal. How could you not hire him?
That’s not news. Volunteering is a proven method of getting your foot in the door in many industries, but Bob went from agricultural reporting to game console development! That’s a quantum leap between universes, and that’s what is so exciting about it.
The greatest thing about OUYA Bob’s story is that he embodies the OUYA ethos perfectly. One requirement of OUYA games is that they have some kind of “free-to-play” component. Whether that means offering the game for free and subsidizing it with in-game purchases, or giving away the demo and selling the full game, is up to the developers.
Bob put himself on the freemium model, and it seems to have worked out. Who else can this work for? You?
Confession: I convinced a good friend not to support the OUYA Kickstarter (Sorry, Bob!). The notorious issues that plague crowdfunded hardware made me wary, and I didn’t want my pal to drop a Benjamin on a lemon. It made sense then, but I’d wholeheartedly encourage him to preorder one now.