I could give more than 7 reasons why I am excited about the Ouya but decided to cut the list back! However we start at the very beginning. What is the Ouya? The Ouya (pronounced ooo-yah; stylized “OUYA”) is an Android based console which was funded on Kickstarter. The Rubiks cube sized console is in the hands of developers at the moment and they have started the porting process for games. Consumers will get their hands on it starting with the Kickstarter backers in March and then it scales up to a full launch in June. You can pre-order your Ouya on Amazon. I have mine pre-ordered primarilly for the reason …. anyway…you will see. Read on…
First Microconsole: This is the year that the “micro” console will take off. At time of this writing there are 3 of these microconsoles launching. They are the Ouya, Gamestick, and Project Shield. There is another if you count the Steam Box “Good” configuration. With the Ouya, it is the first to launch, so it is setting the bar. So far it has sold around 60,000 units while not record breaking by any means, it is a number not to be sniffed at either. The developer community has taken to the console so far with titles expected from big publishers in the form of Square, Double Fine and Namco.
Console Price : The console is priced at $99 and that comes with one controller. Extra controllers cost $49.99 so half the price of the console! It was announced that the Ouya will update the hardware on an annual basis like the mobile phone industry. Part of the reason is that the Ouya uses, mostly, the same components as a mobile unit but minus the screen. It is running a Tegra 3 chipset which is used with the Nexus 7 tablet. With the console updating on a yearly basis, if you have children you can pass it to them when you get your upgrade!
Game Price : Ouya is a fully digital model like the mobile phone market, so there will be no discs. The big thing for the Ouya is ALL games must have a free element in them. That can be a demo, be a free game, or use the Free-to-Play models like purchasing to unlock more levels or get new abilities etc… For those of us who have families, this would be a perfect console to give to your children as they would have access to a wide range of games for free or as suggested above give them the old console when you get your new one. My expectation is most games, if you have to pay to unlock the full version, will be around the $1.99 – $2.99 range. There will be more expensive games but remember most of the games will be ports of Android mobile / tablet games to start with.
Gameplay over Graphics: The Ouya hardware itself is not cutting edge. It is an HD console but is not as powerful as an Xbox 360. Early indications are, at a (big) push, games could get to a level of roughly the launch time Xbox 360 games but expect them to be more like games on Xbox arcade. What the Ouya will do is push back gaming to its roots and, in order to do well, it will need to be fun. One game I am looking forward to playing this year is Final Fantasy III for the first time on the TV and that is a confirmed game. With a lot of old school games now being remade for the mobile phone platform, porting the games to Ouya should happen quickly. Gameplay over graphics should win the day and with the Ouya you need good gameplay to succeed as there over 250 games confirmed as of now.
Indie friendly: Indie games are changing the market and the big boys are trying to keep up. One popular game now can make you a fortune (Angry Birds) and catapult you to the top of the food chain and one bad decision (uDraw) can destroy a company. Many Indie studios want to see their games on the TV screen but they find the big three: Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft too closed off to develop for. This is where the Ouya becomes more attractive as they will be able get their games to the big screen. Indie studios tend to be more innovative than the big studios with that you could see the next big thing on Ouya first as there is a number of Ouya games coming designed specifically for it.
Onlive : Cloud Streaming games are the next big thing and the PS4 and new Xbox are likely to include some version of it. The Ouya will include the most infamous version of Cloud gaming in Onlive. I have used Onlive for a while and it gives the benefits of PC gaming without the need to upgrade your hardware. It also has two absolute killer features: The first is the Arena where you watch people play their games. Think Twitch Tv but you view everyone playing on the system. It is amazing just watching that. The second feature, which they should add more to is, Brag Clips. Brag Clips are recorded 10 second blocks of the action that are saved to your profile. If they implemented this to its full potential, you could have the Facebook of games with your greatest achievements and failures on video. However, Onlive is not without its problems. You need a good internet connection with either unlimited usage or a very high cap. The selection of games is not that great either. It does have a number of very good games but these are few and far between. Onlive has so much potential that I sincerely hope everyone who gets an Ouya, tries it out.
Stream Movies : The Ouya will be able to stream movies and other content from your PC using XBMC. The reason I include this is that if things go wrong, you will always have, at worst, another streaming device in the house! This of course is the worst case scenario but its always good to have a backup plan.
The Ouya is not a perfect gaming console; It will not replace the Xbox or Playstation in your living room, especially if you are after “AAA” games with maxed out graphics. The Ouya will be of value if you want games which are new and innovative. Games that bring a smile to your face due to being really, really bad or just plain funny. Love them or hate them microconsoles are coming and are here to stay and as a result, the gaming industry is changing. Gaming on consoles is often compared to the movie industry and the Ouya and other microconsoles are doing to gaming what television did to movies; Cheap, accessible, and movies eventually end up on it anyway. The Ouya is coming, live or die, its the pioneer.