The OUYA Kickstarter Legacy
Deep down, I’m a very patient person and when projects go sideways, I am accepting of delays when there is actually a reason behind it. I’ve backed several Kickstarter projects that are delayed but the project owners have at least explained why and their backers thanked them for it. In the case of OUYA, my patience has worn painfully thin to the point that I’m now writing this assembly of words about this particular experience.
To really grasp the source of backer frustration, you must go through the series of events. With these dates explained, you’ll have the proper foundation for why so many Kickstarter Backers of the OUYA console are annoyed; especially today on RETAIL LAUNCH DAY!April 5
: Update #21: OUYA states they started shipping units on March 27th. You know, 3 months ago.April 19
: Update #23: Nearly 20% of early backer shipments will be on the move.April 26
: Update #24: We’re now estimating 50% of all orders will be on the way by end of next week and Limited Edition orders will start shipping next week. Yeah, 2 months ago.May 3
: Update #25: “Will early backers receive their consoles before OUYA becomes available in retail?” “The answer is Yes…”. This is when retail launch was still slated for June 4.May 10
: Update #26: OUYA gets 15M in new funding and delays June 4 retail release to June 25 “… to meet all this demand to give us time to make more OUYAs.” 60% shipped according to chartMay 17
: Update #27: “We remain on track to have all early backer shipments out the door by the end of May.” Chart shows 80%.May 24
: Update #28: 100% SHIPPED!. DHL tells them scanning all shipments which triggers confirmation e-mails may be delayed until next Wednesday (May 29). Yup, 100% shipped, a month ago.May 31
:@OUYASupport Tweets: “https://twitter.com/OUYASupport/status/340461166725840896
” “We will be posting another announcement to our Kickstarter page this afternoon. Thanks for your patience!”. This was response to many Twitter posts about not getting any updated information. Adding insult to everything, this update never happens.June 2
: “myouyaiscoming” E-Mail stating my unit has reached their distribution center a full week after they were supposedly 100% shipped. I guess “100% shipped” meant from the end of the conveyor belt to a pallet in the factory shipping department.June 11
: “Your OUYA is on the move.” with a tracking number that still doesn’t work for a link that didn’t exist in the e-mail in the first place (and yes I’ve tried the appropriate proper tracking sites)June 11-13
: OUYA sets up shop in a parking lot outside of E3.Remainder of June
: Continued deafening silence on Kickstarter where users now have to resort to getting answers from the support e-mail, twitter contacts or by reading unanswered comments on Kickstarter and forums.June 21
: E-mail with subject: “Your damn OUYA tracking number still doesn’t work? PLEASE READ”. They may have thought the subject line was cute but at this point it feels more condescending. The solution they provide only works for some and they didn’t even bother giving credit to the person that actually found the solution. That person was a backer who posted the solution in the Kickstarter comments days earlier.June 24
: Update #29: Tomorrow OUYA will officially launch! The first update in a month and a shiny gem of blame tossing: “And -- if you were one of our backers that was impacted by the complications caused by DHL (shipping service) and have yet to receive your OUYA, please know that we are working overtime to get this resolved. We will continue to push our partners to find a resolution and will work directly with you and keep you in the loop until every backer has an OUYA in-hand. Thank you for all of your patience and support.”June 25
: Update #30: “Gonna fix this.” “Backers, I am pissed. Some of you have not yet received your OUYA -- and, to you, I apologize. I did not promise to ship to most
of you before we hit store shelves. I promised to ship to all
of you. I’ve been reading your comments, and we are working to solve this.” – Julie. 12:10AM on Launch day. So all the issues are some kind of surprise to you now?
The above timeline basically shows how the OUYA team has treated their backers. I patiently watched as users commented in the Kickstarter page, the OUYA Twitter accounts and in forums to get canned responses or were told to submit tickets to the support email. Generally, most backers probably checked the Kickstarter page for information only to find that big void in June where OUYA left everyone hanging. The only recourse was to sift through tons of angry comments to find snippets of hope like the DHL tracking solution provided by a backer that worked for some.
To top everything off, many International backers that coughed up the extra $20 for shipping are being charged by DHL for additional handling fees. I was expecting to get hit with taxes (that’s normal) and most likely customs charges but not to the degree some people are being charged. Source: http://ouyaforum.com/showthread.php?2741-International-OUYA-Backers-getting-charged-extra-Customs-charges
. Some backers have become so frustrated with this that they refused their packages, reversed charged their credit cards and have been demanding refunds. Not receiving their units prior to this retail launch has started a new flurry of refund requests in the Kickstarter comments as frustrated backers continue to vent.
I will give the OUYA guys the benefit of the doubt for not being prepared to handle the massive logistics involved with firing 60,000 consoles to individuals all over the world. Face it, their campaign went ballistic and at over 9X their goal, it became a viral success beyond what they anticipated. That being said, their ultimate failure comes down to a simple and controllable aspect of their campaign: Communication to their backers.
Think of how the story would have been different if they didn’t show up in a parking lot at E3 and instead put all that time & energy into resolving support issues for backers. The positive spinoff from that would have probably had more news reach and impact than the childish antics going on between them and the E3 organizers.
I’m still looking forward to my OUYA and will enjoy tinkering with it (when it shows up). It’s cool to see something succeed but let this also be a great lesson to those who strive to do the same. No matter what happens, keep the communication alive between you and your backers.