Due to my fan-boyish of all things Android (Screw you iOS!) the crew figured I’d be the best person to take a minute and discuss the ongoing project to bring the Android operating system to TV’s and battle with the likes of Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo.So the Ouya is the attempt by a gaming industry veteran, Julie Uhrman (Vivendi Universal Games, IGN.com, Gamefly) who has brought in some talented backup in the forms of Muffi Ghadiali as the product manager (Hewlett Packard, Amazon) and Yves Béhar (Jambox) as designer of the Ouya.
The Ouya was announced on July 3rd, 2012, as a new entry into the home gaming console (wars?) and on July 10th it was entered as a Kickstarter campagin. A campaign who’s goal was to fund the project of $950,000, but thanks to it’s 63,000 backers the campaign ended with $8,596,475 (904).
“It’s a new game console, specifically for the TV that we think is really going to disrupt the market. We’re bringing the openness of mobile internet platforms to console gaming. It’s inexpensive, the games will be free to try, whether it’s a level or demo or some amount of time. Developers can monetize the consumer any way they want — it can be micro transactions, a demo, it can be a paid app, or a $60 app. Our only requirement is some aspect has to be free to try. Any developer that wants to build a tv game can do so.“
Hardware-wise the Ouya contains may spec’s that you’ll find on today’s to of the line Android Tablet’s such as the Asus Transformer Infinity, Asus Transformer Prime and Asus Nexus 7. However the ability to support wiressless / bluetooth controls couple with the ability to provide HDMI access to a TV or monitor definitely puts the Ouya in a league of it’s own.
- Android 4.0
- 8GB Internal Flash Memory (storage)
- 1GB of Memory (system usage)
- Nvidia Tegra 3 (T33) SoC
- ARM Cortex-A9 CPU (Quad-core)
- USB 2.0
- HDMI output
- Wifi 802.11 b/g/n
- Ethernet (Cat5/6)
The main focus of Ouya is to bring development that would also happens on a gaming console but without all the red tape and licensing. Personally I think this is a kick ass idea and I’m glad it came to light and have a huge expectation in it as do many gamers and Android users alike. Sadly that’s also the downside of Ouya which has also been dubbed the “Hackable Console”. Now while that’s not a fair title to label the system since every gaming console that has been released has been hacked to allow it to run backup or pirated software, it’s the nature of the beast. However like the Dreamcast before it, the Ouya will make it easier to run pirated software based on how the Android OS works. If you aren’t aware of this here’s a quick lesson; Android provides the ability to “Sideload” applications, which are untrusted applications, by making a change in the system’s settings.
This allows anyone the ability to install pirated software onto the system, which in term has contributed to the large piracy issue on Android and has deterred many developers / companies from bringing both applications and games that iOS users have access to. However sideloading is a double edged sword as it’s also used for development as well as gaining root access to Android devices, which is the benefit again vs iOS devices, so there currently it’s a easy way to restrict this without changing how Android works or by damaging it’s appeal to the millions of Android lovers.
Currently the Ouya, despite being an Android device has gained a massive following and has several major companies backing it’s cause. As of today the following companies are developing titles for the home console;
- OnLive Video Game Streaming Service
- Square-Enix (Final Fantasy III)
- XMBC (Media Center)
- Plex (Media Center)
- Valve (Steam custom version)
- Robtoki (Exclusive Ouya title currently unnamed)
While there are other companies that have expressed interest in the Ouya, none have officially stated if heir titles will appear on it as of yet. A requirement of all software made for Ouya is that they have to a free to play option such as a trial or a full product with transactions in the form of micro-transactions for upgrades or other in-games items / perks. It’s a safe bet to assume that many more companies will come around long before the system launches in April, 2013 (March 2013 if you are a backer).
Do I think that the Ouya can compete with the big “3”? No I don’t, which is pretty sad but painfully obvious. However it doesn’t have to. The Ouya I believe will be at the price point ($109 for a system and 1 controller / $139 for a system and 2 controllers) to compete and destroy the home setup box such as WD LiveTV, Roku and crew as it provides not only gaming but access to feature rich streaming with more horse power than any of the mentioned units. Combine that with the ability to “Modify” the system and Google’s Play offering I do believe the Ouya will be just fine, despite the rampant piracy. The only issues I see for the little box that can is that the time it comes out Nvidia will likely have the Tegra 4 (which i s rumored for a Q1 2013 release) out and the Android version, 4.0, will be a tab long in the tooth seeing that version 4.1 (Jellybean) is already making it’s way to the newer Android tablets. Still for less than $200 you can what you can’t find in other boxes or consoles for that price point. Hell it will also likely wipe out the need for a HTPC as this would do everything plus support keyboards and remotes via USB.
I fully expect to see the Android gaming space blow up in a positive way, tons of new applications such as the Bing of Issac that you wouldn’t see on consoles due to certain issues or beliefs. Sure not everything that comes out of this will be positives but if anything it will definitely have an affect on the Ouya and it’s lifespan as well as the Android gaming scene.
For me that $109 tag is totally worth it, especially since I currently use my Toshiba (POS) Thrive to connect to my TV via HDMI and play emulators, watch movies on the go, I have big plans for the Ouya or should I say Ouya’s since I have two of them pre-ordered. I wonder if my Madcatz sticks will work on this. Madcatz, you hear me?? This would totally rock for playing Xmen vs Street Fighter, Street Fighter and various other titles. heck you could pair these for tournaments vs bring consoles with you to those major fighting competitions… hint, hint!