Amidst the constant rumor and speculation that surrounds gaming superpowers like Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo, smaller developers tend to lack the resources to create any kind of hype, leaving their product dead-on-arrival. One developer, along with a Kickstarter campaign that raised over $8.5 million from more than 63,000 backers, plans to change that trend. Their name is OUYA.
Before OUYA Inc. was able to produce their conveniently named video game console, the Ouya, they started an online Kickstarter campaign hoping to fund the $950 thousand project. That goal was reached in only eight hours, leading to the availability of alternative models of the console to give further incentive to potential backers still looking to contribute to the project. This lead to 46,124 people pledging $99 or more just to receive the system before the official launch date, with thousands contributing more or less money for different tiers of rewards.
Unlike the new Sony Playstation 4 which boasts a custom 8-core processor and 8 GB of unified GDDR5 system memory, the Ouya has a modest Nvidia Tegra 3 quad-core processor, 1GB of RAM and 8GB of internal flash storage. For a more accurate comparison, you would have to look at the Samsung Galaxy Note II, a cell phone, which has a comparable 1.6 GHz quad-core processor, 2GB RAM and 64 GB of flash memory.
This is where the price of the Ouya comes into play. At only $99 it would be irrational to expect a home console with even the strength of the current Playstation 3, which is already seven years old this November. Instead, this $99 box is a completely open, hacker-welcome, home console that runs Android 4.1, also known as Jelly Bean.
Any Ouya, regardless of the time of purchase or whether or not a person donated to the Kickstarter campaign, can be used as a development kit, which allows any person owning an Ouya to develop a game or app without a licensing fee. Their original Kickstarter page even boasts a section that says “Hackers welcome,” which only goes to show that they know their potential buyers all too well. Cell phones running the Android OS have been the choice of hackers for a while; there is no reason to think the Ouya will be any different.
There has been universal concern that the Ouya will simply be a box that plays games optimized for Android phones on HDTVs (because the Ouya does have an HDMI port), but OUYA Inc. has tried to quell that fear by getting big developers like Square Enix and Robert Bowling, a former creative strategist at Infinity Ward to promise games for the home console.
The Ouya will ship to Kickstarter funders on March 28th, with the rest of the world waiting until June 2013 for the console which boasts 481 confirmed games, but with only 80 confirmed by Ouya or the developer. It is hard to tell whether the Ouya will be a glorified cell phone without the phone feature or a potential purchase for hardcore gamers, but with over 63,000 donations it is obvious that a lot of people have faith in it.