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‘Hacker Friendly’ Android Powered Home Console ‘OUYA’ Almost Trebles It’s Kickstarter Target In Just Over 24 Hours

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This is the ‘OUYA’ – a $99 Android-powered home console with a focus on homebrew development. I’m not sure how you would pronounce “OUYA”, but ‘Oooh Yeah’, works for me right now.

The brainchild of a number of industry types, including former Xbox head-honcho Ed Fries, Ouya is an Android 4.0 powered home console tipped to retail at just $99.  Budget pricing aside, the biggest boon that the console has to offer is that it fully embraces an open design approach and welcomes the sort of tinkering and hacking that other manufacturers would seek to discourage since the unit will also include a development kit, allowing anyone to create a game, upload it to the marketplace and set their own prices.  It’s a tremendously enticing proposition and one that, at long last, will look to reinvigorate home games development in the console market.

Like most seemingly brilliant ideas, a Kickstarter has been set up for the console with a funding target of $950,000.  That was yesterday.  Today, the current total amount of money raised is $2,290,225 – showing that there is a shit-ton of love for an open development platform like this. Which, naturally, is pretty fucking great.

Additionally, the game also completely embraces the free-to-play model and it’s here that the console offers it’s only real rule – every game must include some free gameplay, which apparently can vary from a demo to a freemium title that finances itself exclusively on player micro-transactions.

The blurb on the Kickstarter evangelises this fact:  “At least some gameplay has to be free. We borrowed the free-to-play model from games like League of Legends, Team Fortress 2, Triple Town, and many others. Developers can offer a free demo with a full-game upgrade, in-game items or powers, or ask you to subscribe.”

In terms of the actual unit itself, the MAMECube  OUYA has notable design pedigree.   Part of that pedigree includes One Laptop Per Child designer Yves Behar, who has designed the rather familiar looking controller.  Indeed, the layout of the controller bears substantial similarities to the Xbox 360 pad with non-parallel dual analogue sticks, face buttons, triggers, and a d-pad.  This is a GOOD thing.

As well as such traditional input controls, the OUYA console will also boast a touchpad, “for any games making the trek from mobile or tablet to the TV.” the blog cheerfully says.  Which in theory sounds great if you’re playing the latest HD Android titles, but less so if you’re playing non-HD titles, unless of course you like pixels the size of Duplo Blocks.   That shouldn’t suggest however, that the machine will merely leech off the Android market for content (though it probably will initially until aspiring bedroom coders have had their grubby paws on it for a bit), since the Kickstarter is eager to point out that a significant chunk of the funding will go towards the creation of exclusive first-party titles for the machine.  This, is also a GOOD thing.

In terms of the grunt under the hood, the OUYA console should be fully capable of playing just about all of the Android HD content available by the time it launches sometime in 2013 and most crucially, it’s powerful enough to allow enterprising folks to come up with some relatively decent looking games too.

Take a look at the specs below and see for yourself, and try to not be too not-picky eh? The bloody thing only costs $99:

Ouya’s hardware specs consist of the following:

  • Tegra3 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

OUYA also has a number of relatively big-hitters supporting it too including the likes of Prince of Persia creator Jordan Mechner, fellow Wasteland 2 Kickstarter and industry legend Brian Fargo and Mojang, developers of Minecraft.

Taken from the Kickstarter page, this is what they had to say about the console:

“This has the potential to be the game developer’s console. It’s about time!” —Brian Fargo (founder of inXile) 

“Who wouldn’t want a beautiful piece of industrial design that sells for $99, plugs straight into your TV, and gives you access to a huge library of games?” –Jordan Mechner (creator of Prince of Persia, Karateka) 

“If OUYA delivers on the promise of being the first true open gaming platform that gives indie developers access to the living room gaming market, yes that is a great idea. We will follow the development of OUYA and see how it resonates with gamers. I could see all current Mojang games go on the platform if there’s a demand for it.” – Mojang (developer of Minecraft) 

In a climate of spiralling developmental budgets and a dogged focus on risk-averse, so-called triple-A development, it’s great to see a scrappy little proposition come along like this; I hope it becomes the resounding success that it deserves to be.

The industry needs it.

The Kickstarter page for the OUYA console can be found here, and in the time that it has taken me to write this article they have raised an additional $34,090, bringing the new total to $2,324,315.

A video profiling the console can also be seen below:

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Written by bitsnark

July 11, 2012 at 9:14 am

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