Monday, July 16, 2012

Is Ouya The Next Step In Console Gaming?

If you are reading this post, chances are you have heard of Ouya, the new Android-based console. This console, which has been Kickstarter's newest success story (raising more than 5x it's pledge goal of $950k with 23 days left), looks almost too good to be true. Ouya (ooh-ya) is being developed with three major points in mind:
  1. Ouya will only cost $99.
  2. Allow you to play Android-based games on your television.
  3. Being open-sourced, the Ouya team encourages you to hack it and make it your own.
Not something you might be accustomed to reading, but true all the same. The sky is the limit when it comes to this new console. Let's break these three pillars down, and see what we are really looking at.



For Ouya's Kickstater page, click here.

Price

$99. Fits right in with every other price that seems cheap enough to make the purchase OK (akin to iTunes single song price of $0.99), but teetering on the edge of a price that, if increase by some minuscule amount, we'd all lose our minds. That price makes everyone feel better, for whatever reason, and everything seemed hunky-dory in Kickstarter land. The specs, which can be seen in the link above, look great for $99.  I really am curious to see what the Ouya team will do with the rest of the fortune that they have raked in so far.

Android...Console Games?

A lot of people think that Ouya revolves around the idea that people play some games on their phones/tablets, whether it be waiting for the bus, being unproductive at a meeting, or on The John (we all do it), and it hits them; "Hey! This game would look great on my TV." Will it really, though? I've never played a mobile game and had this thought, but that's not the point of this console. The whole point is to give developers a new system to develop for, not to just port android games from mobile devices. Ouya games are made to fill the consoles needs, instead of mobile games which are made to deliver quick spurts of gaming when you need your fix, or a good 30 minutes to an hour when you are on that long trip home. The Ouya wants these developers, new or veteran, to have a safe console environment to make games for, free from the regular Activision or EA way of making games. My heart will always be with consoles, and Ouya knows that we are not the only one's who feel that way. Something else Ouya wants to do different is to always give you the option to "Try before you buy". All games to be released on the Ouya will fit under a free category, whether they are free to play (Like Team Fortress 2, or Blacklight: Retribution to name a few), they might have certain aspects of the game unavailable unless you pay for the game, or even just a demo to try it out. From what I understand, this will e at the developer's discretion.

Hackability

I'm not a hacker (nor an English major, see header above). If I could, I'd leave it at that, but that's not why you are here. Ouya wants you to play with its sensitive parts Ouya wants you to tinker with, well, everything. It's a tech hobbyist's dream come true. Want to develop games for it? Go right ahead, there are no licencing fees. Want to develop peripherals and hardware add-ons? What are you waiting for?! Want emulators and homebrew apps? Ouya is at your service. This is a console for the people.

Unfortunately, some people have concerns about this feature, and the console in general. "What does this feature mean for potential online games, such as any competitive multiplayer game?" and, well... that's it. That's honestly the only huge concern I've heard about, well, the whole console. Between you and me, how big of a concern is that? I'd rather have single-player games 10 fold over multiplayer.

Overall, there is a lot of hype to be had, and a lot of Debbie Downers looking for flaws to ruin everyone's day. What a lot of people don't understand is that it's not about porting Android games to a console, it's about getting a console out there for developers to make new games for. I want Ouya to succeed, to blow past everyone's expectations, and be the best that it can be. I'm sold on the product, but I'm cautiously optimistic, and what I have talked about here is just the tip of the iceberg. This console is a love letter to the indie/homebrew scene, I just hope enough people are willing to read it; I know I am.

Leave your comments, concerns, and suggestions for new topics in the comments below, and as always, thanks for reading, stay tuned, and stay sweet! :)



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