Jul 11, 2012
It is hard to escape the hype around Ouya, the latest great potential savior to console gaming since OnLive. Fortunately for Ouya, it has more possible staying power and a better foundation then OnLive ever did. Seeing the obvious need to lower the entry level for console gaming developers, Julie Uhrman – with a resume that lists high up positions at IGN, GameFly, and Vivendi – had the idea for Ouya, an Android based $99 gaming console that promises that every game at least has portions of free content. The whole business plan is based on having games that are sold similarly to the Android Market and App Store where games generally come in a Lite form and them a Premium upgrade. I like the idea of making large format, high definition games for the $10 and under price range, because, as fun as Angry Birds is on a 3.5″ screen, it doesn’t compare to experience of playing on the living room TV. Also, because Ouya is a console, strictly speaking, it mercifully comes with a controller which adopts the superior button layout of that on the Xbox 360.
One of the biggest and most publicized aspect of Ouya is the fact that it is completely open for hackers and programmers to have their way with it. Of course, it comes with a standard and very attractive OS, but Uhrman was not shy in inviting the programming community to unleash their creativity onto the device. This idea extends to game developers as there is no longer an expensive SDK to download or license to buy; a game can literally be created in the attic overnight on the existing Android platform that has proved so fruitful for games and other apps. The Ouya KickStarter page makes it perfectly clear that this console is not simply to be used to port over existing Android games, even though that option is exciting because there are plenty of great Android games that could greatly benefit from a tactile controller. It is also noted that games are not the only options for this console, and as it becomes more popular it is a safe bet that popular media companies like Netflix will port their Android app over.
And really, I see Ouya becoming much more successful then the struggling OnLive simply because it doesn’t need big name companies to adopt it initially. Once it inevitably gains steam from ported games and indie developers, the larger companies such as EA, Gameloft, and other traditional console heavy weights will follow suit just as they did a few years ago with mobile gaming. Mojang has already committed Minecraft and their other titles to Ouya and given companies like Netflix and Spotify’s tendency to embrace any platform under the sun, major adoption of Ouya does not seem too far off. Also, the $99 price tag almost makes Ouya available for even an impulse purchase, and the promise of cheap/free games is an invaluable selling point.
So brace yourselves, the gaming revolution may very well be upon us.