The day after the crowdfounded Ouya hit retail; the console’s launch could be considered a commercial success. Sold out at Gamestop and on Amazon in many countries, yet some shipping issues regarding the Kickstarter units could jeopardize Ouya’s future.
Many early brand advocates have questioned Ouya’s apology about shipping their product:
– why did retailers get their units prior to early kickstart backers?
– why Ouya’s team has only acknowledge a breakdown with their shipping partner on the day the console hit retailers’ shelves?
If there is one important marketing lesson we can learn from Ouya’s troubled launch it is that catering to your brand advocates is key to growing a community, and that openess and honesty trumps opaque communication.
Is Ouya’s communication going to be its downfall? How many units did Gamestop and Amazon have in stock? Is the “sold out” status of the console another marketing ploy?
Hold on one minute – what is, who is OUYA?
From an unknown name a few weeks ago, OUYA has written the blueprint for what can only be describe to as “viral community branding.” If you do not recognize the name, you’re not alone – OUYA has just had the most successful launch in Kickstarter history by raising over a million dollars in less than 8 hours! Since the fundraising program was unveiled and launched they’ve been trending worldwide on Twitter, have been one of the most searched terms on Google and Bing and the subject of countless articles.
What they accomplished in less than 24 hours is phenomenal. They have now raised more than 5 million dollars in just a few short days.
So what’s the secret behind such a monumental marketing success? There are a lot of factors to consider but all of them have one thing in common: Community.
Harnessing the power of Community has been done before but rarely with such successful execution. There are a lot of steps that have been taken to make sure the brand would be successful. When dissecting the brand identity of OUYA it’s clear that their marketing message is crafted to cater to their audience: gamers. The product is indeed filling a void in the gaming industry, yet what made the branding so efficient is the way OUYA positioned itself as a console for gamers that couldn’t exist without their support.
The people behind OUYA are all “rock-star” veterans of the gaming industry. Julie Uhrman is a former digital distribution VP for IGN (a Newscorp owned company). Ed Fries is one of the fathers of the original Microsoft Xbox. Muffi Chadali is responsible for the Amazon Kindle. And designer extraordinaire Yves Behar is considered to be the heir apparent to Philippe Stark.
By using an effective marketing message and harnessing the right channels to talk to their audience, OUYA’s strategy and message was strong from the outset. They also connected with legendary game designers who had recently experienced overwhelmingly successful Kickstarter campaigns. This gave their product “street” credibility by using expressions like “open source”, “hackable,” and “free to play” which implies positive connotations within the gaming community. This turned community influencers into an active component of development. Crowd funding completed the equation.
What can’t be overlooked is the low entry price point of the device. This is a tremendous advantage, but to achieve the exposure OUYA needed and ultimately received it was imperative to appeal to the consumers and the most vocal influencers in the gaming community. The result was like an out-of-control wildfire that spread quickly.
These are smart and experienced people and this was a well thought out plan that likely produced results better than originally anticipated. It should be noted that this technique of branding is not normally utilized to be self-sustainable. It would be naive to think that the all-star industry veteran team behind OUYA is solely relying on the community for developing its offering.
OUYA was most likely just gauging consumer/developer interest, and had Angel or VC Investors waiting to see how well the Kickstarter campaign did before buying in with a more substantial and ultimately dilutive amount. A good influencer/community based campaign can make a brand and therefore the difference between the terms of the deal, or whether it goes through at all.
There’s no guarantee that OUYA will be a success but they’ve completed a critical phase quickly, establishing their brand, and creating a huge buzz in a very specific community. That alone is an impressive feat. By knowing their audience, they were able to cater to it directly, engage community influencers, listen to their needs, and turn potential consumers into community advocates by giving them a crucial role in the product lifecycle.
Quite simply – “The people have spoken. And they want their Ouya”. – Venture Beat