3 mins read

Ouya is proving to be a bit of a big deal. Its Kickstarter program shows there is a lot of support for the very concept, and Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft should be very concerned.

It’s not the first indie project, of course, and it won’t be the last, but Ouya has a better chance of making some real changes happen in the games industry. To start with, it’s a remarkably simple, but intelligent idea – iPad and Android gaming is hugely popular, but people complain there is a lack of buttons. Add buttons. ???. Profit.

Internet meme aside, it should have been obvious to anyone that follows the games industry that “adding buttons” to smartphone/ tablet gaming in a mass-market kind of way would be dangerous for the established incumbents. There’s been some attempts in the past to produce controllers and the like for gaming, such as the 60beat controller for the iPhone/ iPad, but these struggle to get market traction for a simple reason – they’re not “official” and so the software support is just not there.

But what happens when you design a console around the smartphone/ tablet approach to game development, but mandate buttons? That’s a different beast entirely, and given that Ouya is going to be sold cheaply, I can’t see it failing to pull in gamers from all camps – people who spend a lot of money on touch screen gaming will appreciate the ability to relax with a controller at home, and console gamers will appreciate the wide range of gaming experiences available through these platforms.

It’s also important, I think, to consider the design of the console itself. Many indie projects struggle from a lack of resources to turn their ideas into ‘X’ factors – Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft all understand design really well, so their products stand out on the shelves and people aren’t embarrassed to have them in the living room.

But Ouya’s got that as well. That controller image shows that the folks behind this console really understand that style is as important as substance when it comes to marketing. This is a console designed to sit against the incumbents on the shelves, and Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft are all going to need to work hard to prove they offer enough that Ouya isn’t simply enough.

What are your thoughts on Ouya? Is it going to be a console revolution? Will you be buying one? Why/ why not? Sound out in our comments below! (and don’t forget to sign up for our rewards program while you’re at it to earn free games).

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  • first the system is hackable. No legit dev is going to put there games on it when you can rip them off. Which is why not 1 dev pledged any kind of support

    It takes more than a controller to sell games

  • It's very easy to hack into all the Android platforms, and that hasn't stopped game developers put plenty of games on it.

    I don't think it's as cut-and-dry as you think. This thing could well prove to be very popular with indie developers, and from there, if the numbers are there, the bigger developers will also work on it.

    If nothing else, the whole industry is going to see the Kickstarter success as a proof-of-concept. People clearly want this.

  • Kickstarter success is a fluke more times than not…….

    Android dev is a drop in the bucket compared to ios………

    Its more cut and dry than even I am saying. Once actual consoles come out, its going to get forgotten……….

    i get this is a digital site…….but without a store presence its a non starter

  • Agreed. This is a good looking console. I really have my fingers crossed that it makes some headway – in part because some competition to the big three is a good thing, but also because this would give indies a new outlet.

  • This is a creation I actually thought would be a good idea, though I'm not taking credit for it. Make an open source gaming console with an open source platform…a la Android. I guess great minds think alike. Though this is an amazing idea, Ouya really needs to act fast as I'm sure Google, Microsoft, and Apple are watching closely. For some reason I see this company being brought out before it even fully launches. That's just how good an idea this could be.

  • I think you might be right. Something about Ouya strikes me as a company that was formed with the plan to be acquired.

    Which isn't a bad thing. The philosophy behind this design is one I'd like to see more of in the industry.

  • I'm really thinking Google or whatever company that makes the Roku Box would be perfect for acquiring this start up. This really is a good idea, I just hope they can buff up on the specs of the actual unit a bit. This is an idea, I really wouldn't mind paying $200+ for giving the growing Android market. This could double as a media streaming box, gaming console, and make use of thousands of other app creations beyond games.

  • Well, first, you don't even give any good reason why Sony, Microsoft, and/or Nintendo should be worried…unless I missed it? Second, there is nothing that I have seen from why Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo should be worried over. Do you know how many units of this are available? How many games?

    A little more research perhaps could help form better conclusions, and/or titles?

    They don't even have a firm release date, and "hope" to get it out by early 2013. If anything OnLive is better than this, because it's already established and on the market, and it has the system in place to make software adjustments as needed.

  • There's the potential here that something like this could prove really disruptive to traditional consoles.

    The popularity of the Smart Phones and Tablets proves that there's appetite at both developer and consumer level for the kinds of games that this console will play, and with a lower point of entry for both developers and consumers, it could well become the default platform for anything but the big AAA-games.

    Without those indie and B-team developers, there could be difficulty in maintaining the licensing business that all three console manufacturers need from a financial perspective.

    So, yeah, it's a potential threat simply because it could be very disruptive to the traditional console business models. Not to say the big three can't adapt, but they might find they need to adapt – just like they're having to adapt to Apple.

  • "There's the potential here that something like this could prove really disruptive to traditional consoles."
    See OnLive? Potential was there as well.

    "The popularity of the Smart Phones and Tablets proves that there's appetite at both developer and consumer level for the kinds of games that this console will play, and with a lower point of entry for both developers and consumers, it could well become the default platform for anything but the big AAA-games."

    Unless we see Halo, Gears, Uncharted, God of War, Mario, etc., leave the Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo consoles, those AAA games will remain console exclusives (minus Gears, since it goes PC as well I believe), and the consoles will keep other games on them as well because of the market. Will licensing fees, and price structures change? Perhaps. Consoles have console exclusives though, and I don't see Mario hitting Ouya, and if this thing is hackable…wait until legal teams get involved as well if one game gets "leaked" to the console.

    Again, no confirmed release data. Less than 100,000K units (I believe only 20K currently, unless that changed), and no big games and own a PC, Droid, iPad, and/or iPhone?

  • To address some of your points:

    1) I would say OnLive still has potential. In fact, I would say the potential of OnLive has just been verified, given Sony just acquired a company that did almost exactly the same thing…

    2) I'm not saying that Sony, Microsoft or Nintendo will lose exclusives, or even go out of business. That's crazy talk. What is likely though is, as you said – they're going to have to do some rethinking if this takes off. The iPhone and iPad have become gaming platforms almost as important as the big three, and that's without any AAA-titles (possible exception of Infinity Blade).

    The concern from the big three will be around how to continue to engage the indies. They're a critical part of the gaming landscape, and it would not be a great thing if they all upped and left the existing consoles.

    3) In its first day this thing hit $2 million from Kickstarter. I'd guess overall it could go as high as $10 million. That would be substantially more than they were expecting to raise, and so you'll likely see a bigger launch than had previously been budgeted for.

    Of course it's not going to be a mainstream console (at least, not for a while), but history is filled with examples of startups out-innovating the established leaders. Remember when MySpace was bigger than Facebook?

  • I don't see most stores in the U.S. stocking this, and I doubt the same people who buy mobile games on their phones would want to play them on a TV. I don't think the market is there, and I don't believe there is any cause for concern. I also don't see where in this piece you make a specific reason why the big three should be concerned.

    But forget all that. That's not important. How is it pronounced? Oh yeah? Is it like Ouija? O-U-YA? This question interests me more than the console.

    Good read.

  • I think the console manufactures will work with developers, and adjust as necessary. I don't see that not happening, even though Nintendo is apparently the slowest in working with indie and third party developers and being friendly with them (at least from reading about several on the Wii side)

    I actually won one of our DS Lite's from Nintendo's MySpace page back in 2006 I believe…kind of hilarious.
    I know MySpace was huge, but I also know MySpace was purchased by a major corporation in 2005, and seemed to slowly fall apart after that.
    It's still got massive traffic, but not like Facebook now for sure.

    The biggest benefit for Ouya, is the price…but OnLive has that, so I'm not even sure the price is good, considering the games are available on devices already owned by most people…that would supposedly be the target audience for this?

    I don't think Nintendo has to worry with it, nor Microsoft or Sony. Not anymore than Nintendo had to worry about the product shown below 🙂 …

  • Mabye it was meant to be "Oh yeah" – but they were drunk as all heck when they wrote the name down, and that's what they got.

    That's how I choose to think of it. 🙂

  • I'm interested to see where this goes and I like that it's more than just 'bolt-on' controls for an existing mobile device. The real meat for me is being a living room console on a TV where you experienced all those crazy good times with your friends 20 years ago on the NES, etc..

    As for dev support I have no aggregate figures, but FWIW Jools Watsham has supported the project and appears to be interested in developing for it. Just one example and I'd love to see Mutant Mudds on there.

    From a few searches there's quite a bit of hate about ouya which seems unnecessary. As for the PC gaming angle I find it refreshing to take the PC out of the mix (even as much as I like Steam) with a $99 console. It's not my $500 home laptop or $2k business laptop that have their own purposes, upgrade cycles, software requirements and varying limitations.

    The market: I agree with Phil that it's probably not the mobile market audience, but rather tapping into more mobile devs that have jumped ship from the console world.

    As for pronunciation: it sounds like 'eww yah'.

  • I think you're right in the sense that the target audience for this is not defined as yet – but I keep coming back to that $2 million in one day. That's absolutely massive. That just doesn't happen unless there's support for an idea. Perhaps there is simply a market for people who like to play tablet/ smart phone games at home – I know I do.

    Of course, Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft would raise $20 million in the same time (or more…) but this goes back to my point – this is disruptive technology. Tt's not going to bankrupt anyone, and it may well bomb commercially, but it's going to force the incumbents to think about what they're doing.

    It's also far better designed than, say, the console in your picture. 😛 Design counts when it comes to marketability, and that's been the curse for indies historically. This doesn't look like an indie project, though, and that's a big thing in itself.

    Keep the debate going – I'm enjoying this 😀

  • There's always going to be "hate" from people who like to keep things they way they are. I remember there being a lot of "hate" towards Microsoft with the original Xbox, too. People get very personally attached to their game consoles, and so tend to take what goes on personally. 🙂

    I could list a few hundred developers and publishers I would love to see working on a TV console who have previously been iOS/ Android specialists. We're in for some very interesting times.

  • What I'm really interested about are the possibilities for the Hacker community to use and modify the Ouya. I think it will be very interesting to see what they can come up with.

    Otherwise, I don't think it will be a game changer to the console industry. I feel like the Ouya is trying to be a console yet not be a console at the same time. The Ouya's specs aren't overly amazing so I don't expect games to require much power from the console, which could in turn just encourage Game Developers to stick to mobile gaming (mainly for tablets) as they're becoming more and more powerful to answer the growing needs of the App Market and it's contributors. Since Ouya is running on an Android-based OS so I guess it could be compatible with Android tablets, but at this stage, given the increasing popularity of tablets, potential buyers may simply stick to Android tablets rather than use the Ouya, a "static" platform.

    If the Ouya was developed by the same companies making the Tablets, then you could centralize accounts and make them available on both your tablet and the Ouya, giving you the ability to play when on the road through your Tablet, or at home on your TV through the Ouya. But the Ouya is an independant platform that will require it's own source of income, so I don't see this happening.

    I think this console's success will be determined by what the hacker communities will be able to do with it.

  • its a non starter waiting to happen

    its cute to think about before we get new hardware

    but once the wii u or ps4 comes out this means nothing

  • Hi Steve,

    Let me start off by saying that I do understand where you're coming from and your point of view on this issue.

    But, indie PC games are being sold DRM free in the majority these days and are wide open to hackers. Sure, there will be people that pirate the games, as they're pirating games on every system — which I in no way support — but what the Ouya team is desiring from allowing the system to be open, is the ability for the hacking community to mod the games.

    Counter Strike: GO and Day-Z are two big games that are getting a lot of media attention at the moment and both are formed by mod teams (i.e. hackers).

    I just secured my Ouya first-run console and it's day two and they have acquired nearly $3.6 million! And yes, developers are already starting to sign onto Ouya. 😉

  • Bottom line

    the kickstarter pays for about 20k systems

    The specs are weaker than vita and 3ds specs………..

    It wont be sold in stores…….

    its forgetable

  • It's an interesting starting point for a console. It's clear that people want something different from their consoles now and time will tell whether the Ouya is going to offer that. They may not have dev contributions so far but they have time on their side at the moment, and now plenty of cash too.

  • While it sounds nice, I'm not buying into this new console just yet. Yes, the concept is nice, but how long will it be until the initial buzz wears off? And at that point, what will the console be? Will it be another enthusiast's toy like the open-source Pandora handheld? Or will it actually get some market penetration? To me, there's too many ifs and too many optimistic people believing that this will change gaming.

  • I agree that there are a lot of "ifs" right now, and there's no guarantee that this will be a success (though, $4 million or thereabouts in two days? As a proof of concept, you don't get better than that).

    But a good business worries about the legitimate "ifs", and this is a legitimate "if." Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft can't do that much themselves to beat one another, or Apple. Being smart businesses, none of them are really moving to directly compete with one another. They have similar product lines, but that's in the interest of exploiting market opportunities. Sony didn't expect to drive the Wii out of business with the Move. But, it did see the opportunity to sell a few million Moves to the market that like motion gaming. And so it did.

    However, smart businesses do try and react to an "if" to make sure they don't end up with yet another competitor pulling market share away from them. Ask Microsoft – it's kicking itself for being slow to react to that fruit-company that it nearly drove out of business. Back then Apple's recovery was very much an "if."

    So I do think all three will try and figure out how to make sure the Ouya is not a success. They may well succeed, or the Ouya may just never take off. But I bet, if you were a fly on the wall in Sony, Nintendo or Microsoft's board strategy meetings, they'll all be talking about this thing in the weeks and months to come.

  • I see a lot of derp in the comments, by "hackable" they are talking about modding games and modding the system, much like the mods on pc elder scrolls games make them so much better than the console. Also to Steve you're saying no developer will come to this console? Then why are there so many free to play games? This console is based on free to play, do some research

  • Also the console is its own dev kit, people can make their own games for OUYA from their couch. Of course there isn't any games for it, the kickstarter just announced it a day or 2 ago, derp.

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