In the past 48 hours, two of the most hotly debated issues in gaming have been temporarily put to rest. One, the Kickstarter phenomenon still has plenty of wind left in its sails, and two, console gaming is not dead, at least not yet. Single-handedly settling both of these debates is the team behind OUYA. An upcoming console conceived by industry veteran Julie Uhrman and designed by Yves Behar, OUYA stands to become the most successful Kickstarter campaign of all time. But why?
OUYA ’s is an open console designed by gamers for gamers. It features an astoundingly low price point ($99) and requires that developers make at least some part of their games free-to-play. Considering that the modern gaming climate is mired in hidden fees, DLC and corporate agendas, OUYA ’s model is a genuine breath of fresh air that captures the essence of what console gamers desire.
But saying that OUYA is only accessible to gamers would be selling it way short. In fact, one of OUYA ’s strongest promotion points is the fact that it will be powered by Android. What this means is that the console will be open source, allowing designers to develop on it inexpensively. Developing on the cheap for mobile devices and PCs isn’t exactly a foreign concept for indie game studios, but those seeking to release their game for a console run into a myriad of roadblocks, high licensing and SDK costs among them.
OUYA, at least in theory, will be friendly to both end-users and developers alike. Granted, a measure of quality assurance will have to be in place to filter out crapware, but if utilized properly, OUYA could be the primary outlet in which fledgling indie companies showcase their titles.
But can a console be developed so inexpensively? My initial inclination would be to say no, but given that Yves Behar is the mastermind behind the device, my opinion has been swayed. The developer of both the Jambox and the One Laptop per Child, Behar is notorious for designing technology that is equal parts affordable and effective. Just one look at the sleek and innovative controller leads me to believe that if anyone can pull this off, it’s Behar. Granted, the OUYA’s specs are not exactly overwhelming, but they are more than adequate, and will only improve as the campaign amasses more funding. Either way, expect Behar to work brilliantly within his budgetary restraints.
It appears that the team behind OUYA is going to have a lot more flexibility than they initially thought. In 12 short hours they managed to shatter their goal of $950,000, and to date have collected nearly 3 million dollars in financial support. During the time of this writing, over $200,000 have been pledged, leading one to believe that they will shatter the previous high mark of $10 million plus set by the Pebble Watch.
There is clearly a market for an alternative console, and while I won’t be abandoning my Xbox 360 and PS3 for an OUYA anytime soon, having the option to play free games from innovative developers on the big screen sure sounds promising.