Can A $99 Android Games Console Really Challenge The Home Gaming Status Quo?

Unless you have been asleep under a rock for the last few days, you will no doubt be aware that the hottest news in gaming right now, is the proposed new game console called OUYA (ooh-yah). This new venture has been making considerable waves recently, due in large part to its phenomenal crowdfunding performance on Kickstarter.

The team behind this bold new effort to disrupt the home games console market, initiated their Kickstarter drive with a goal to attain pledges totalling $950,000 in thirty days. Incredibly, this goal was achieved within half a day, as thousands of backers “opened their wallets” to pledge the funds that could see the OUYA launch as early as March 2013.

As of today – less than a week since the Kickstarter drive began – the OUYA project has raised well in excess of four million dollars, from more than 37,000 backers, and is on course to break the five million dollar mark.


So what is it about the OUYA that has convinced so many people to back the development of a $99 Android based console? Well take a look at the at the startups founder and CEO, Julie Uhrman selling the OUYA in this promotional video.

If the finished product is able to deliver on all of the promises of its creators, the OUYA would cement its place as one of Kickstarter’s biggest success stories.


From the information that has been released thus far, it seems clear that the biggest draw of the OUYA, is its open development platform, based on the Open Source Android 4.0 operating system. This is in stark contrast to the closed models of the three established names of the home gaming market; Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo.

In addition, the OUYA team have made their console hackable by design, so those who are inclined to do so, can legitmately tinker with and modify the hardware to their hearts content without ever voiding the warranty. This is exactly the kind of activity that the established players don’t look kindly at.


Whilst the OUYA is certainly generating a lot of buzz online, not all of it is positive. Reading comments on tech blogs, games forums, websites and YouTube videos, it seems that most of the criticisms of the OUYA seem to be focused on the graphical quality of potential OUYA game releases, in comparison to the AAA titles available for Xbox 360 and PS3.

These critics have failed to realize that the OUYA is not intended to be a direct competitor for the current generation of consoles, let alone the next generation. The OUYA hopes to be an alternative which will provide among other things, independant game experiences that are unlikely to find a home on the mainstream consoles.


It’s perhaps not surprising that fanboys of Microsoft and Sony’s console offerings won’t be impressed with the announcement of the OUYA. It is unlikely the OUYA will be capable of delivering the AAA games that these fanboys hold so dear. But for gamers who have rightly grown weary of the generic military first person shooters – which constitute the bulk of AAA games – the OUYA represents a great opportunity for more innovation in game development.

For the entirety of the current console generation, there has been a dearth of original ideas in games. The absurd sums of money invested in producing AAA games by the major publishers ensures that they will never risk developing an original game. So gamers have been forced to endure a glut of generic (first and third person) shooters, and sequel after sequel of tired franchises.

With the cost of entry for developing games for the OUYA being so minimal (no licensing fees, publishing fees etc.), indie developers will have that much more creative freedom to try out new game ideas. That fact alone is what makes the OUYA such a compelling prospect to both indie developers, and gamers who yearn for something different to what is currently on offer from the three established console makers.

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