The lights are on
The console isn't even out yet, but
it's already been a wild ride for the Ouya. Since this Android based
platform announced its Kickstarter campaign last July, more than
60,000 backers have contributed $8.6 million for an open platform
that gives developers the autonomy to build what they want when they
want. We recently sat down with CEO Julie Urhman, who showcased the
console, controller, and slick user interface.
The diminutive chassis is less than the
size of a softball, packing in a Nvidia Tegra 3, 1.7Ghz quad-core ARM
A9 chip, 1GB of RAM, and 8GB of internal flash memory. One modestly sized fan keeps all these pieces from overheating while operating at a
quiet 20 decibels. The back of the unit features an HDMI port, USB
and micro USB ports, an Ethernet port, and a power plug-in. The
console also supports 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. The unit
comes with an HDMI cord as well, so you don't need anything extra to
get the system up and running. Ouya is currently testing other
Bluetooth devices to see if they are compatible with the console, and
plans to publish a list once it's done with the fact-finding mission.
It currently supports the use of up to four controllers at once.
Xbox 360 owners should be right at home
with the Ouya controller, which has staggered analog sticks, four
face buttons, a D-pad, two shoulder buttons, and two triggers. It
connects to the console via Bluetooth and runs on two AA batteries.
To replace the batteries, you must remove the brushed aluminum face
plates on each side of the controller. You need to be aggressive to
pull them off, but they fit tightly back onto the controller. I like
the placement of the analog sticks, but they aren't concave so your
fingers may slip off them from time to time. The sloped triggers are
pressure sensitive, which should make the controller a good fit for
first-person shooters, and the middle of the controller is a
one-touch touchpad. To get back to the menu at any time in a game,
you can double-tap the Ouya button in the lower middle of the
My favorite feature of the Ouya is the
minimalistic and intuitive user interface, which isn't cluttered with
advertisements or an overwhelming amount of options. Instead, upon
booting the system up you're greeted with four options: Play,
Discover, Make, and Manage.
Selecting the Play channel brings you
to the collection of the games you have downloaded. This menu looks
almost like the Xbox 360's Metro design, with rectangular panels for
each game, but the Ouya fits more options on the screen at once.
The Discover channel acts as the Ouya
storefront. Here you can peruse several different menus of games.
Similar to a recommended apps tab in the iOS storefront, the Featured
section houses games vetted and curated by former thatgamecompany producer Kellee Santiago. The Go Retro section obviously leads you to
throwback titles that recall gaming's golden age. The Genre section
allows you to sort the games by several categories. The Sandbox
houses the latest games appearing on Ouya. These titles need a high
enough O ranking (an under-the-hood algorithm that collects usage data on games) or enough thumbs-up votes to become candidates
for the other sections. The Hear Me section selects games with great
soundtracks. Whatever section you are in, when you click on a game
you are presented with a screen that showcases game information,
screenshots, and eventually video trailers (a feature that has yet to
be integrated). If you'd rather not browse, a universal search option
lets you type the name of the specific game you are looking for.
The Make channel is the home base for
developers to quickly access their latest builds, and the Manage
option lets you dive into the system settings to enter your credit
card information, set up your user name, etc. The console currently
doesn't have many community functions – friends lists and
achievements are notably missing – but Uhrman says these are both part of the long-term plan. Parental controls and the ability to set up
multiple users on one console are also missing at this time. I'd also
like to see Ouya create a dedicated channel for multimedia options
like Netflix, XBMC, Flixster, etc.
The biggest question mark we still have about the Ouya is what game will be the system seller. Urhman tells us that the company has more than 50 games up and running in the Ouya storefront as of right now, but most of these titles are already available on other platforms. The games we saw on the console include Canabalt, Final Fantasy III, Organ Trail: Director's Cut, Fist of Awesome, Stalagflight, Wizorb,and The Ball. We know that Double Fine, Robotoki, and Kim Swift have Ouya-exclusive titles in the pipeline, and Ouya has shipped more than 1,200 developer consoles, but we don't know enough about the upcoming games to discern whether or not they have the potential to draw players to the platform.
Kickstarter backers will begin receiving their consoles in the next few days; the company began shipping them out today. The Ouya is scheduled to launch for $99 on June 4, appearing at retail storefronts like Best Buy and GameStop as well as online retailers like Amazon. As much as we appreciate the console's clean interface and developer friendly environment, if Ouya expects gamers to migrate to its platform, it needs to offer experiences we can't get anywhere else.
Email the author Matt Bertz, or follow on Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and Game Informer.
Ouya is an interesting concept... I wish it luck. :)
I for one love the consoles slick design, and for the price I don't think you could really go wrong with buying it even if its just to try it out.
I doubt it will go very far, but I hope it does.
I think I may get one of these this summer. I've been intrigued by the system ever since the Kickstarter began. As long as there is a way to synch your Google Play and Ouya account purchases, it'll be pretty good to me. Thanks to the Humble Android Bundle, I found that my phone is having a bit of a hard time playing some of the newer/fancier games. Having a home console for them could be quite nice.
I don't think i see this being a driving force in mainstream gaming, it will be a fantastic tool for indy developers though. I just can't see myself investing in it though, not in light of the current and next gen consoles that are soon to be here.
First of all Kudos to those who thought up this system. For a hundred bucks, it is worth a shot and I can give it as a great gift for my son.
I think the Ouya is a very interesting impressive home console that will only improve as time flows. $99 is a nice price for a new gaming system.
I can see that it will appeal to people who don't like to play for hours just to reach the end of the game like in many games in the ps3 system. But if they're able to add PC based games, I will purchase one. And that is because I don't want to spent money to get a new PC system just to play a few PC games.
I'm not so sold on this yet, android games on console maybe later but right now my idea is no thanks
I'll stick with the big three thank you very much.
If games will be selling at a couple bucks a pop then I can see this being a huge hit. It'll be like an online vending machine for the simple games out there. The hardware should be able to handle some current gen titles, though, so I wonder how far developerss will try to push it.
See the problem that they will face is that indie devs have publicly said that Android and iOS are a pain in the ass to make games for. GDC revealed that the Vita, PS4, and PC will be the way for indie devs to go. Saying this I love my android phone, but will never buy an OUYA...why? Most phones have a mini-hdmi port and bluetooth support for controllers...my point? Without the console or controller I could if I so choose play my phone/tablet games on a TV.
Hmm ... not really sold on this thing. I just don't get the appeal of it. I'd rather buy a Wii U first ... eventually, as soon as that new Metroid gets announced.