Android / Other Games

OUYA: It’s Getting Good

Last July, I wrote an article about why I didn’t plan on kickstarting the upcoming OUYA game console. Time has passed, more news has been announced, and my tune has finally changed. The OUYA looks amazing and I finally want one.

First, my three points against the OUYA from back in July:

“It isn’t coming out anytime soon.”

Other than this obviously being not true, given that OUYA is well on schedule for its April release, the recent bevy of hardware start ups in OUYA’s ‘indie console’ category have made me far more interested in jumping in. Sure, that is probably a bunch of solid marketing making me believe I have a real need for an open source console. Yet, at the end of the day, I have longed for a solid system that could easily emulate games I’ve loved, expose me to new games, and perform other media features.

While a hacked Wii has served that purpose thus far, it hasn’t really done it as elegantly or as easily as I assume the OUYA will.

“A good lineup cannot be guaranteed.”

This was definitely true at the time and is still to an extent true now. However, I didn’t count on the popularity that the OUYA has since received. Given the sheer amount of interested indie developers, I think the OUYA could be a fun experience alone with the wide array of experimental gaming prototypes to play around with. But OUYA has gotten some big name support, as well. Square Enix will have their games on the system. We can definitely expect other major Android releases like Shadowgun. And just recently announced, Double Fine has pledged their support with a port of The Cave.

All in all, OUYA’s current list of planned titles is incredibly extensive, despite not being made up of exactly well-known games. Given the system’s open, easy to develop nature, that’s really to be expected.

“No Google Play.”

I still haven’t found many answers on this one, at least not official ones. But really, this question was a product of an entirely old fashioned way of looking at consoles.

We are used to the walled gardens of Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft by now. With the word console comes to mind, limitation should rarely be far behind in following. OUYA won’t be like that, though. Everything they’ve done since a successful Kickstarter has been built on an open system. This isn’t going to be the type of hardware that you break warranty on by utilizing to its fullest.

With that in mind, I have no doubt that if the apps I have come to love and use on Android don’t find their way to OUYA, the community will make it so. In the meantime, having a dedicated app store to games that are guaranteed to run on a controller probably is an awesome feature after all. I sure wish Google Play had a better curated games tab somewhere.

But what about now?

Well, I missed the pre-order window for the OUYA intentionally. Aside from being poor, I don’t yet have an HDMI-enabled television. (Yes, yes, I live in the stone ages.) I debated getting it anyway alongside and HDMI converter, but the cost just wouldn’t be worth it for me right now.

Still, I intend on getting one when it fully releases. The fact that major retailers will be selling the OUYA has me excited more than ever that this may be a rather important step in gaming – I don’t intend on missing that step. I believe the OUYA will replace my WD TV’s media functions, will surpass my expectations as a gaming machine, and will deliver a simple but effective piece of hardware.

Speaking of hardware, Engadget reported today that the OUYA will not only be able to take even more advantage of its Tegra 3 processor since it doesn’t have to worry about battery life. But if the system specs don’t impress, the OUYA team are happy to release completely backwards compatible systems yearly. Instead investing in a piece of hardware, buying an OUYA will mean investing in a service where software ownership is tied to your account like Steam.

All in all, if Playstation 4 and the new Xbox can’t compete directly with OUYA’s dedication to downloadable titles, account-based ownership, willingness to embrace being an open platform, or leave room to upgrade at a more even pace than this last console cycle, then they may launch behind this year’s true most exciting console.

If you are as excited as I am, the OUYA is available now for pre-order on


13 thoughts on “OUYA: It’s Getting Good

  1. I’m rather eagerly awaiting it as well. I never got around to getting a pre order because you know… A concept is not a product but now that things are progressing really well I might just save up.

    The other consoles have the branding but I think if Ouya gets some decent media attention it will be a big hit. As you said, the console market is ridiculously closed and I think people will respond very well to a far more open ended and customisable experience.

    Although in reality the masses are still islaves regardless of the merits and costs of other models

    • Slaves might be a bit strong, but I do agree. Brand recognition is always a powerful factor that keeps people towing the party line of a chosen product.

      But as you said, with the right media attention (and it is already getting a lot), it could be pretty big. I doubt it will be the next big console, especially in a year where the two biggest consoles are rumored to be planning sequels.

      It doesn’t have to be to be successful though.

  2. I like the the format of this post, and it’s point by point follow up of your previous post.

    That’s said though, I still have no interest in the Ouya. It just feels like a product that makes too many compromises.

    • Thanks!

      I can certainly see that argument’s merits, so I won’t try to rebut. I just feel that at its current price point, the Ouya is a fantastic deal with very few compromises assuming it will quickly be able to handle the media services of other hardware while also having a significant gaming component.

      For instance, I paid nearly a hundred for my Western Digital TV to be able to run all of the video formats I wanted on my TV (since my Xbox doesn’t run all formats and I am too cheap/lazy to build my own set top box.) I have debated doing it with a Raspberry Pi, but that’s a lot of work and not much cheaper once I factor in everything necessary to operate it (remotes, keyboards, etc.)

      I am really looking for Ouya’s openness to make it a very affordable all in one option.

    • It is wireless via bluetooth and runs on two batteries.

      The controller is a little exciting in and of itself because of the inclusion of a touchpad on its face. I am not sure how useful that will be for most games, but its something that is certainly different and unique.

      • Arg I used word for the wrong end. It is a blessing to all that I understand myself and no need to send out a search party and St Bernard. But ooh! nonetheless. Touch eh? The things I’ve read about it so far look very promising!

  3. Excellent piece. I think both this and Valve’s upcoming Piston are long overdue developments to challenge the established business model of gaming, which is not working out well for anyone along the chain, except maybe the retailers. I have a feeling that all three console players are going to be in for a rude awakening as they launch their new hardware and people refuse to engage in the whole planned obsolesence model . . . I think new venues like these will really help open up and get some originality in the medium because it will allow for smaller fish to get a product out there that’s not a Halo / Assassin’s Creed / Call of Duty $60 price point AAA title and still find enough of an audience to make it sustainable.

    I like the fact that they bridge console and PC gaming to a great degree, allow you to have that couch experience without sitting at a desk.

    • Definitely.

      Also, I feel like the Playstation and Xbox equivalents to app stores, PSN and XBLA, have evolved enough over time that I would be happy with a cheaper system that just focused on titles of that cost and quality. I mean, the biggest titles of the last year were downloadables like Journey and The Walking Dead.

      If OUYA and GameStick and Project Shield can tap into that sentiment alone, we are in for a big shake up in gaming hardware.

      • Absolutely. The whole HD gotta-melt-you-eyes-it’s-so-pretty mentality is fine and all, but those games cost money and time that is not being recouped, and makes it far less likely they’ll take chances on something different and new.

        Just take a look at the retail level: if you’re willing to wait it out a month or so, you can usually get a new release for at least 40% of the MSRP for a brand new, sealed copy. Some of that *is* price wars between retailers who are willing to take a little less on their end to beat out a competitor, but I think that also shows they feel they need to do that in order to keep inventory flowing off shelves because the demand just isn’t there. Pricing is far more of a concern now to consumers than it was over the last couple generations of hardware, and I gotta say after having technical issues with both Xbox and Wii I’ll NEVER be a hardware / launch cycle early adopter again. I’ll wait it out a year or two until they get a redesign or two in and get the kinks worked out . . . and knock some $$$ off the sticker price.

      • I definitely feel we are reaching a point where bigger is no longer significantly better than just making a fun, interesting game. I think the move to primarily being a digital sale industry will only help that since it will further open up smaller companies to access larger markets.

      • I’m kind of curious to see what MS and Sony have planned, because last gen, they made this huge deal about cutting edge technology — go HD or get out and pay for the privledge –and let’s face it, beyond continuing franchises that started in earlier generations, we didn’t get a lot of new things, just shinier versions of older coin. I’m wondering how they’re going to try to sell this new one, why we should shell out hundreds of dollars when we have perfectly fine machines that still have plenty of life in them already in our homes.

        The economics works against the new idea or the new developer — it wasn’t until they really got the downloadable space up and running that we saw some really original stuff that didn’t have volume numbers in the title. Digital helps cut some of the risk out, and helps them be more profitable — I’d rather see a dev team get more of my money than Wal-Mart or Gamestop get a cut of it.

  4. I’m still just going to wait and see. The only thing that would really make me buy one of these would be a series of must-buy Android exclusives, and I think that’s an unlikely scenario. Their lineup, while having grown substantially since the initial gameless announcement, is still just a lot of ports and shovelware. I don’t want to dismiss this thing before it’s already out, but I have the nagging feeling that most of the games I can find on OUYA will also be available on iOS, Steam, or in the case of The Cave, every digital service imaginable. I have no interest in the hardware side of things, sadly (I don’t know the first thing about modding, and I should never be let anywhere near a soldering gun), but I can see the appeal for someone who’s into that sort of thing.

    Ironically, I was about to complain about how I can just buy a phone that can do the same thing for cheaper, and then I realized that OUYA IS the cheaper alternative. Goddamn, phones are expensive these days.

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