OUYA, the Android-based console funded primarily via Kickstarter, will hit the market in June of 2013 via both Amazon and brick-and-mortar retailers like GameStop, Target, and Best Buy. I’m excited; not excited enough to run out and buy it day one–you’re always better off waiting for a few reviews to drop–but I’ll be paying very close attention to how the OUYA and its first round of games perform. Here are five reasons you should, too.
The price. When’s the last time you could buy a gaming rig of any sorts for $100 on release day? You might have to go all the way back to the original Nintendo Entertainment System, unless I’m missing something obscure in between. One hundred smackers doesn’t get you very much new hardware these days, especially if you don’t trust Craig’s List. Additional controllers will run you $50, but that base price just can’t be beat.
In theory, its Android OS will reduce the learning curve for developers. Typically it takes six months to a year for console developers to get used to a new console’s dev kit. Remember the texture pop-in in Halo 2? In theory, building the OUYA on top of software that already hosts a ridiculous number of games and apps will make programming for it relatively easy and could lead to a launch lineup that absolutely dwarfs every other console launch lineup ever.
Every OUYA is a fully functional development kit. That $100 price gets you more than just a console–it also pays for all of the tools a developer needs to program an OUYA game. Removing the need to license an expensive SDK opens the OUYA up to curious hobbyists and small developers with big ideas. Get those two groups of people working on your console and you’re sure to get some really wild, original stuff. OUYA could prove to be a great tool for sucking new programmers with fresh ideas into an industry many fans think could use a little bit of shaking up.
The controller looks pretty normal. Sure, there’s a touchpad between the analog stick and the face buttons, but otherwise OUYA’s controller appears to be a fairly standard interface. Rather than bet the farm on new fangled motion controls, OUYA gives gamers something solid and familiar. At worst, that touchpad could be very useful for navigating menus or perhaps typing via some sort of gesture-based system.
The people behind OUYA seem to get it. In today’s world of DRM, draconian copyright controls, and walled gardens, a console that encourages development by anyone and everyone is a breath of fresh air. The manufacturer’s website even suggests that we all take the OUYA and its controller apart to check out what makes both devices tick. Both the console and the controller use normal screws!
There is, of course, one big caveat that bears watching. Although the OUYA hardware itself sounds pretty kick ass, the best console on the planet is nothing without a solid core of games. Many hardcore gamers look at the Android Market and see a stinking mire of crapware through which they can’t be bothered to wade through, despite the gems they might find. Square Enix is already signed up as a partner and will be bringing Final Fantasy III into the fold, and the OUYA seems like just the sort of thing an independent-minded developer like Mojang’s Notch would jump all over. A recent 10-day “game jam” programming fest produced 166 prototypes. The folks behind OUYA are trying damn hard to build up their library of games, but the quality of that library is what will make their efforts sink or swim.
What say you, dear readers? Excited yet?
Check out Episode 127 of the D Pad D Bags Podcast, featuring DmC and XCOM.