Xiaomi announces partnership with Ouya to distribute video games in China

Ouya's games will likely be available as digital downloads on Xiaomi's smart TV sets

PUBLISHED : Friday, 22 August, 2014, 7:24pm
UPDATED : Friday, 22 August, 2014, 7:31pm

Ouya, a niche US video game company, has partnered with Xiaomi to bring its software to Chinese households via Xiaomi’s new content-streaming television boxes.

The California-based company, best known for releasing a video game console in 2013 that ran on the Android operating system, announced its partnership with Xiaomi to Reuters yesterday.

Details are still being determined, said Ouya Chief Executive Julie Uhrman, but Xiaomi will likely open a channel specifically designed for distributing Ouya games on its “smart TV” sets, the MiBox and MiTV.

Via this channel, owners of the MiBox and MiTV will be able to purchase and download digital versions of the games previously released on the Ouya video game console.

"This could be a turning point…in bringing great content and developers to gamers and into a region that they have never had access to before," Uhrman told Reuters.

Uhrman added that the budding market for Chinese video game consoles and content-streaming televisions was “still in a very early development stage”, and said that both Xiaomi and Ouya would “share revenue”, but did not disclose further details.

The Ouya console, which fashioned itself as an alternative to mainstream video game consoles like the Sony Playstation 3 and Microsoft Xbox 360, originally raised US$8.5 million (HK$66 million) in funds via Kickstarter, quickly becoming one of the crowdfunding website’s most successful projects.

Public reception of the Ouya console was mixed, however, with a Digital Trends review calling it “a device with a lot of potential” that suffered from stuttering performance problems that made it no more powerful than the average smartphone.

Sales of Ouya games never reached the heights of heavy hitters Sony and Microsoft, but the console did attract about 40,000 independent developers and offered 900 Android-based games – many of which were also available for mobile devices.

This is not the first investment that Xiaomi, China’s biggest domestic smartphone maker, has made in the gaming market. In February 2014, Xiaomi bought a US$20 million (HK$155) stake in online game company Westhouse Group, a subsidiary of Chinese software developer Kingsoft.

The partnership between Xiaomi and Ouya comes at a time when a 13 year ban on foreign-made console games in China has finally come to an end, and Microsoft is preparing to officially launch its new Xbox One console in the mainland on September 23 for prices starting at 3,699 yuan (HK $4,700).