$99. That is the magic number for the Android based OUYA game console coming to market March 2013. OUYA’s Kickstarter campaign goal was $950,000 when they launched on July 10th. It took a mere 8 hours to surpass it. After 24 hours OUYA had raked in over 2 million. Today it is sitting at close to 4 million dollars and has 27 days to go. Apparently people around the world like cheap consoles! Who knew?!
A new project founded by Julie Uhrman (former head of IGN Digital distribution) with design input by Yves Behar of fuseproject ($100 laptop \ Jambox), OUYA’s goal is to take mobile gamers and bring them back to the TV. In order to do so, OUYA is courting some of the best and brightest indie game developers to develop nearly every type and genre of game for OUYA and doing so by making everything open source.
Developers will obviously have full access to the console and its inner workings but the goal is also to provide that same access to you and I. The console will be assembled using standard fasteners that anyone with a glasses repair kit can likely open. Crack it open as many times as you want, go ahead and root it, neither will void the warranty.
OUYA’s goal is to enable hardware hackers of all stripes to develop, document, give away or sell any type of interface between human and console they can dream of. A PS3 controller? Please that’s too easy. Kinect for Windows on Android? Now we’re talking.
Speaking of interfaces, the console will ship with at least one controller that borrows the best from the current crop (dual analog sticks, d-pad, 4 standard face buttons with 2 triggers and 2 shoulder buttons) and aims to throw a touchpad interface on the surface for those games that were developed with a tablet or phone in mind.
The hardware specs of the console are actually quite impressive given its intended price point. OUYA will come packed with:
Tegra3 quad-core processor
8GB of internal flash storage
HDMI connection to the TV, with support for up to 1080p HD
WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
Bluetooth LE 4.0
USB 2.0 (one)
It may not sound like much compared to the PS3’s cell processor or the XBOX’s new 320GB hard drive, but compare this against the current crop of Android tablets (such as the new Nexus 7 MSRP $249.99) and you start to realize how much of a deal OUYA actually is.
As for games, it is Android based so if it is available on Google Play OUYA wants it available to you...and for free! Well, at least a free demo, well ok at least SOME part of the game has to be free. Most likely the developers business model will default to “freemium” games where you purchase in game items for real money but in the end OUYA allows the developers to charge what they feel is appropriate.
Regardless, that is a far cry from the $60 base price we see for most AAA games on the XBox or PS3. As for those AAA developers OUYA wants them too but I have a feeling most will likely send ports of old games or the sidebar game experience type apps to OUYA and continue to focus on the PS3 and XBox titles until the user base grows to a point where it can’t be ignored or slighted.
I believe that with over 30,000 people backing this project in just a few days, OUYA’s model is poised to give the current console business model some pause. I know that is a far cry from the millions of consoles out there but it’s a pretty good start for something completely unknown.
If you'd like to keep up with their progress, you can follow OUYA on Twitter via @playouya.