N.O.V.A. 3 and Why the OUYA Could Be a Natural Fit With Mobile Gaming

N.O.V.A. 3 and Why the OUYA Could Be a Natural Fit With Mobile Gaming

Jul 17, 2012

While playing N.O.V.A. 3 on Android, I came to a realization: there’s a reason why the OUYA has appeal – it’s for games like this, console-style games that find a home on mobile and wind up thriving. Hey, there’s a reason why Gameloft keeps releasing these games. There is clearly continued interest in them, and the distribution model of mobile platforms like Android makes it possible for these games to have a home outside of the traditional console market. Now that console-style Android hardware is on the horizon with the OUYA, these games and those players that crave them may have a proper home.

While we’re on the subject, here’s a quick rundown of N.O.V.A. 3 for Android: it’s content-identical to the iOS version, which I reviewed in depth on 148Apps. The multiplayer is cross-platform, and logging in with the same Gameloft Live account carries over stats between versions. Only play this on very recent hardware, though: the Tegra2-powered Motorola Xoom had a choppy framerate with the game. It desperately needs the ability to drop graphical quality. Otherwise, it’s a well-made yet derivative FPS.

The dirty little secret about a lot of mobile games is this: they’re being made by devleopers who are traditional gamers, familiar with the PC and console games, and they are making those kinds of games on platforms that are open to them. Gameloft does it on a large scale, but so does Madfinger Games with titles like Shadowgun and Dead Trigger.

For N.O.V.A. 3 and similar titles, having a controller will make these games play a lot better, because they’re basically console titles crammed on to a touch screen. Many other games may work well on touchscreens with limited virtual buttons, such as many endless runners, but those would adapt well to having buttons. The only games that would have issues are ones that require tapping on specific on-screen elements, and they’re ones that the trackpad on the controller might not necessarily solve. But I don’t believe they are the target market for titles on OUYA. Combining the benefits of a console with the advantages of the open market could be extremely beneficial to some games.

Yes, content is still a big concern for OUYA, but consider this: Unity could be a killer development app for the OUYA. Unity’s strength is to allow developers to build graphically-demanding 3D games that can run on many platforms, and it’s why whenever I talked to developers at GDC 2012 working on three-dimensional games, their answer seemed to be that they were building in Unity. Also, don’t forget that many iOS-only developers work in Unity due to benefits like the ability to rapidly prototype games that can then be built into final products in the same development software. Having a game-centric platform to target could be appealing for many developers.

Are there still plenty of doubts to be had with the OUYA? Yes. Content will be a concern, but I imagine getting major Android releases on the OUYA will not be a significant issue. There’s at least a major batch of early adopters who are intrigued by the ideas, and anecdotally, I’ve talked to independent developers who are intrigued by OUYA’s possibilities for a variety of games. It seems as if the most vocal skepticism so far is coming from gaming media and some industry investors (Kevin Dent has been vocal against the OUYA so far on his Twitter account). Skepticism should be warranted with such a project, but one only needs to look at mobile gaming in general to see the possibilities that it provides.

Carter Dotson
Carter Dotson, editor of Android Rundown, has been covering Android since late 2010, and the mobile industry as a whole since 2009. Originally from Texas, he has recently moved to Chicago. He loves both iOS and Android for what they are - we can all get along!
Connect with Carter Dotson // email // www
  • Carl

    The reason you’ve seen a lot of devs use Unity simply because it’s the lowest common denominator for budget 3D titles. Most devs coming from the console market typically aren’t Unity developers, unless they only do XBLA. There’s barely any Unity games for PS3 for example, and zero high profile PS3 titles using it.

    For OUYA, we will see a lot of native 2D and 2.5D games, simply because that’s the dominant model in Android games, and a handful of low budget Unity titles like Dead Trigger and Shadowgun. I suggest you need to look at those games again on a 1080P screen and reconsider how compelling they will be. Unity titles on a Tegra 3 GPU aren’t going to be competitive with Xbox or PS3 any time soon.

  • The thing is, I don’t think that a transition to the TV is going to make these titles necessarily any less compelling. I think that while mobile has encouraged smaller projects, there hasn’t really been room on the console side for small developers to use entry-level software like Unity to get a foothold on TV gaming. It’s a space that has a gaping hole – Sony and Nintendo don’t care about small indies, and Microsoft buries XBLIG deep in the dash. And I think there are plenty of games that would fit well on consoles, but have just been limited to mobile because there aren’t the same kind of opportunities on consoles.

    The thing is, that’s what the Ouya represents – a low-cost entry point for mobile developers to get their games on TV. Of course, the concern has to be about volume, if the Ouya can get into enough consumers’ hands to justify the platform’s existence and developers working on it. But $99 is a sweetheart pricepoint and I think they have a chance.