Ouya – The Open Source Game Console

Okay, I have a confession. I have had an itch to pledge for another project on Kickstarter and I gave in far too easily but I reckon this is quite an exciting development for the gaming industry as a whole, if not, for gamers in general.

Ouya will be a game console based upon Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) and is currently going for the introductory price of US$99 on Kickstarter (there was an earlier offer for $95 but those opportunities were snapped up almost instantly). That price is incredibly low compared to the current prices of the cost of the three major consoles (the PS3, Xbox 360 and Wii which is the cheapest of the bunch). There are some basic specifications available at the moment, specifically:

  • nVidia Tegra 3 quad-core processor,
  • 1GB RAM,
  • 8GB flash memory,
  • HDMI output @ 1080p,
  • Wi-Fi 802.11bgn,
  • Bluetooth 4.0 (used for the wireless controllers),
  • 1 x USB 2.0 port.

As to how the hardware can be harnessed, whether it is enough and how long it can last before being put out to pasture remains to be seen but this does provide a great opportunity for independent game developers to bypass the big boys as well as their development kit and licensing costs via this low overhead channel to release games to market. In fact, all games developed for Ouya will be required to have some form of “free-to-play” capability in them which will help drive interest in both the platform and encourage people to try before they buy.

However, the Ouya isn’t just about the games. The Ouya is open for hacking in terms of both the software (i.e. rooting, gaining highest privileges) as well as the hardware which requires a normal screwdriver to open up. Each and every system is a dormant development kit waiting to be unlocked should a user feel so inclined. This contrasts against the major consoles which go to great lengths to hinder and hamper homebrew development.

As I mentioned, I pulled the trigger and backed this project to the tune of US$149 to cover the cost of a Ouya, two controllers and international shipping. Of course, this means that there will be the usual video presentations coming up for this device when it arrives in the mail around March 2013 which is the estimated delivery date at present.

I am optimistic about this fledgling console but, if it does fall flat on its face, I reckon there will be a vibrant hacking community that will breathe life into the platform should the ongoing commercial viability not stack up. This device could make quite a capable network appliance amongst other things. It does make me wonder if a platform such as Ouya could give something such as Steam a run for its money in the absence of Steam having its own console device – perhaps this could be a prime acquisition target in the future?

Stay tuned!

1 comment

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    • Edd Almond on August 13, 2012 at 18:15
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    It’s a pretty interesting and exciting project. If it can get developer support from teams that weren’t considering developing for Android, then it should have a knock on effect of more quality games coming out for Android in general, which is no bad thing either. Hopefully it might also inspire some tablet friendly peripheral gamepads to latch on to the Ouya games too…

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