Last year I had planned to write an article decrying the lack of Bedroom developers, that innovation of both software and hardware by creative, freelance, individuals was being suffocated by rising costs and big companies being over sensitive about their products (Sony) which has led to a situation where people who buy a console don’t actually own it (Sony).
I had planned to hark back to the halcyon days of the Commodore 64, a time where all you needed was ability, imagination and access to a computer to have a shot at creating the next big game as opposed to today where big studios employ hundreds of people to produce a single game.
Then the OUYA kickstarter launched and made all that redundant, (Target $950,000, raised: $8,596,474).
Fixing the above problems is a big part of the ethos of the project, see here http://www.freethegamesfund.com/ for details. It is also the main reason the console is Android based (Android are Apples main competitor) and it is 100% hack-able.
Don’t panic, nobody is getting free reign to do whatever they please with your data, it simply means that the root kit and all other pertinent details are available free of charge to any developer, so if you want to make a light Gun and bring a new version of Duck Hunt to the console you can and without having to pay license fees to OUYA or paying through the nose for a proprietary SDK (Software Development Kit) as you would have to do with Sony ETC.
A standard screwdriver is all you need to get into the guts of the machine and with standardised USB and Bluetooth making your own peripherals will be a comparative doddle if you have the know-how.
The console being Android based means a number of things, including the fact that any monkey who has familiarised themselves with the Android SDK, which is free to download and use, can develop games for the console. Any of those big mobile games can now be transferred from phone onto a big screen TV, as long as the developers are willing to meet OUYAs primary condition they can get it published on the consoles marketplace.
Having made access to a console market possible for lone developers, their primary condition for access takes a hefty swipe at one of the foundations of the current gaming market. They are changing the way games are purchased – every game must have a free to play element, be it a limited time trial or free to play with micro transactions.
The free to play model means that the games will have to be good enough to make players want to spend money which could be considered a quality control measure. Games are also distributed solely digitally which means less packaging and less cost to you.
So not satisfied with changing the way the whole console gaming market works the OUYA has a price point of just $99. That’s cheaper than every other console on the market.
OUYA addressed all the reasonable concerns raised during its Kickstarter in short order, all the current consoles use customised chip sets which raises production costs, the OUYA uses a generic mass manufactured one. They use a Tegra 3 graphics card which is good enough to play the games aimed at the system. It has a small hard drive but any generic usb hard drive can be attached to it if you need more memory room, instead of paying through the nose for proprietary hardware that does exactly the same thing.
The full specifications are:
- Tegra 3 quad-core processor
- 1GB RAM
- 8GB of internal flash storage
- HDMI connection to the TV, with support for up to 1080p HD
- WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
- Bluetooth LE 4.0
- USB 2.0 (one)
- Wireless controller with standard controls (two analog sticks, d-pad, eight action buttons, a system button), a touchpad
- Android 4.0
This isn’t a company full of fresh out of college kids with more ambition than sense either. The Team behind the OUYA are well known in the industry and have a track record of delivering on the promises.
Take a look at the top three names attached.
Muffi Ghadial: Just prior to joining the OUYA project he worked on a little thing called the Kindle, you may have heard of it. He has established a reputation for delivering the goods over the last 15 years on everything from set top boxes to hand held devices.
Yves Behar: Designer and Entrepreneur, his work with Fuseproject has garnered over 50 industry awards, he designed everything from condom vending machines in New York to JAMBOX, a completely wireless, Bluetooth compact audio speaker. He has chaired the Industrial Design Department at California College of the Arts since 2005.
Julie Uhrman: To my knowledge the first female CEO of a console company and an industry veteran. Over the last decade she has worked with companies such as GameFly, IGN. Vivendi Universal. She developed a strong reputation for handling digital distribution and it is her vision that has lead to the creation of the OUYA.
Not only does it have that superb team working on it, it also has backing from people like Minecraft developer Mojang and Jordan Mechner (creator of Prince of Persia).
With approval of gaming industry leading lights, an amazing team, a retail model for its games that could turn the console industry on its head and a price point that makes it more accessible to the public than any of the other consoles on the market.
This tiny little box could well take the legs out from under the industry giants, Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo, in much the same way the original Playstation swept the world back in the Nineties.
(Based on an article I wrote for The Gazebo ezine)