For as far back as most can remember (circa 2002), video game output was subject to the Big Three: Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft. All fine choices, but like the two-party political system, one can’t but feel a little limited with a set number of options from the powers that be. Enter Ouya, an independently created gaming console that aims to give players an affordable, interactive option should they wish to try something less graphically intense and more sensitive to DIY creativity. Whether or not the Ouya turns out to be a depressing console knockoff sold at swap meets and drug stores that disappoints hopeful kids every year during the holidays remains to be seen, but from the sound of it this little puppy actually has some thunder under its hood. That said, here are the coolest things about the Ouya.
5 People Behind It All
From former IGN president Roy Bahat as chairman of the board, to head engineer Steve Chamberlain who ran development on Tiger Woods at EA, the Ouya has collected a solid team of industry veterans. Created by ex-IGN businesswoman Julie Urhman in collaboration with TIME magazine “Top 25” visionary Yves Behar, the Rubik’s cube sized Ouya will also see Sony’s Raffi Bagdasarian in charge of software operations. Suffice it to say, these people all have the passion and experience to do something new, and if the transparent user outreach is to be believed, they very well just might.
The one thing to NOT overlook is the price of this little doo-hickey: $99. By underselling the competition, Ouya opens itself up to casual gamers, gaming completionists, and the ever-growing cash-strapped. Arriving at a time when income isn’t the most readily available asset for many, the attractive price may hook those whose spirit is willing, but wallet is weak.
3 Launch Titles
Which brings us to the actual games. So far it’s been confirmed that Final Fantasy III will be ported for release, as well as a zombie game developed by former Infinity Ward alum Robert Bowling (a prequel to 2015’s Human Element – also an Ouya exclusive). Most games will come from the OnLive and Google Play library, like old school emulators and popular downloadable fare like Playdead’s moody head-piece, Limbo. Of course, time will yield more entries, but for now it’ll be fun being able to play addictive app games with a controller and proper television set. Plus, if recent surveys on the Ouya site are any indication, we may even see well-knowns like Assassin’s Creed or Skyrim make an appearance.
2 Hardware Power
Equipped with the latest Android version Jelly Bean as well as an NVidia Tegra 3 Processor, the Ouya’s hardware skews closely to the guts inside state-of-the-art tablets and smart phones. However, reports claim the graphics to be on par with the original Xbox, with a modern polish thanks to the integration of current technology. A side-by-side comparison with the Big 3 of course makes this little guy seem like real small potatoes, but then again remember that the Wii was able to compete with the more advanced PS3 and 360 by promoting its different approach to gaming as a form. And come on, Grand Theft Auto III on the Android still looked pretty awesome for what it was.
1 Open Source Design
The biggest draw and raison d’etre for the Ouya is its open-source capabilities, actually encouraging designers to create titles for the console. In an age of technological democracy, via blogs, and YouTube or what have you, this console takes the next logical step and allows anyone to upload a new game to the network. Sure, this may mean the video game equivalent of a public access show, but at least the power is in the hands of the people. For every ten Angry Birds knock-off, there’s bound to be a dormant Mozart able to get her work to the masses without approval from some gatekeeper via licensing fees, pushing forward the medium as an art form in the process. If the historically successful $8.5 million Kickstarter campaign is any indicator, the Ouya will have no trouble building this creative-friendly community.
Are you excited about the Ouya coming out? What do you think are its best qualities? Certainly not anything more accurate than what was just cited, but go ahead and throw a list together if you feel like being wrong!