Features ouya-android-00

by Saul Berenbaum


What’s the Buzz on Ouya?


New gaming console launches this week.

So have you heard about Ouya? It’s an independently developed gaming console for Android titles. You plug it into your TV and play it with a controller like any other system… Except that it’s only 99 bucks, and all the games are free to try, and it’s open-source so you can hack it if you’re into that sort of thing.

Seeing as this Android gaming system launches this Thursday and we’re an Android gaming mag, we thought we had better give you the lowdown on the buzz surrounding the world’s latest gaming conosle:

From 6gaming.com: In a recent post on the systems official blog, Kellee Santiago, the person behind all of the developer relations for the console, Kellee Santiago indicated that any and all games that are uploaded onto the developer portal will be available on all of the consoles when they are shipped out from March 28th onwards…

However, just because of the open-source format, doesn’t mean developers will be able to run amok as the co-founder of thatgamecompany continued in her post to clearly state that all submissions would be reviewed for any unsavory content. This includes hate speech of any kind, real world violence, copyright infringement and mal-ware.


As someone who really hates ambiguous censorship (see also: www.mpaa.org), I can stand by the company’s reasoning here. Here’s a bit about the number of games you should expect to see on Ouya’s marketplace, and one of the standout exclusives:

From IndieGameMag.com: As confirmed by the developers, and the total currently stands at a whopping 539. Of this list, Polygon Gaming‘s Visorman is one which particularly piques my interest. The game intends to capture the essence of early console FPSs,’ such as GoldenEye 64 and Perfect Dark, while showing some degree of scorn towards the prevalence of military shooters in today’s market.

Personal note: As much as I loved GoldenEye, I ate, slept and breathed Perfect Dark well beyond the lifespan of the N64. If Visorman and a bunch of Ouya’s other exclusives can even come close to the fun factor of that game, they could very easily catch onto a niche market. Can you imagine if Ouya starts sapping the “Nostalgia” sales from the PS4, Xbox Whatever and Wii U over the holidays? There’s a pretty huge market in Low-Res these days.

From Arstechnica.com: Ouya founder Julie Uhrman talked a bit recently about how well the console would need to perform to be considered a success in the company’s eyes:

“My [definition of] success for Ouya is that we show momentum month-over-month,” said Uhrman. “Every month we’re selling more units, every month we’re getting more games, every month people are playing those games longer, every month there is a must-have game. That’s success, at least in the first year… My goal is for everyone who loves games to know that Ouya exists,” she continued. “My goal is to have innovative, exclusive, unique content that you can’t find anywhere else.”


That’s the right way of looking at this – Publicity, exclusives, but most importantly, games. Games that epitomize Ouya and its independent view of the industry, with a constant influx of new and original content. Ouya made it to $1 million pledged on its Kickstarter in eight hours, faster than any product ever, and they reached their goal of $9 million last August, so they’re off to a great start. You can head over to www.ouya.tv to pre-order it for June. The package just has the tiny little OUYA console, a controller, a HDMI cable, and some batteries, and for less than 100 bucks it comes in at about a tenth of the cost of Valve’s phantom-like Steam Box. 

The controller features an ergonomic, if somewhat blocky construction and a nice, glossy finish. It’s got four main buttons in the classic DualShock mold (except with O, U, Y, and A buttons), as well as a touchscreen, D-Pad, triggers, and what the company describes as “laser-precise analog sticks.” They’ve been play-testing it to death to get just the right weight, and have taken to calling it the “Stradivarius of controllers.” High praise.

As they mention on their Kickstater page, Ouya’s developers are looking for it to frontline a revolution in home game design. Since the console is open-source, and its software writing system is built on Android, everyone with Android development know-how can design a game right on their TVs. As the company queries on the page, “Who needs pants?”


From ShogunGamer.com: One of the appealing things about the Ouya is that it indeed is an open platform for developers who want their wares to be seen and more importantly played by gamers without the red tape that often accompanies trying to receive certification from one of the big three consoles or hoping that the game doesn’t drown amidst other key releases as is often the case with iOS releases. Case in point: I have about fifteen Xbox Live Arcade titles downloaded on my 360, and a lot of them are genuinely great games, with titles like “Omega Five.” Ever hear of that one?

On the whole, this sounds awesome to me – With various companies focusing on high-end 3D gaming technology and aiming to roll it out by the end of the decade, I think we can use as many TV-And-Just-TV-based gaming options as we can get. Between the Wii U’s shop, the Xbox Live Arcade and the Playstation store alone, gamers have access to an unprecedented virtual marketplace of classic titles. But new innovations are being made in game development all the time, and smaller developers can use a platform like OUYA get their work out there on a screen larger than a Kindle.

The success of products like Roku has proven that the market now exists for space-saving, cloud-based home theater products. With so many Android titles out there and so few ways to go about tying them on a big screen, OUYA might find a good measure of success.


From the official Kickstarter page: “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)

The guys behind Ouya have a lot on their plate – They’re launching right in the middle of the next hardware war. Microsoft and Sony have had months of coverage on their new systems already, while Ouya’s only had a Kickstarter and some blogs to keep it in the news. If they want to connect with those casual gaming and family markets, they’re gonna have to pull out all the stops at E3, and launch with plenty of time before the holiday season. The ball is rolling, but this isn’t the kind of race that “Slow and steady” wins very often.



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About the Author

Saul Berenbaum

Saul Berenbaum has been playing videogames since he was two years old. An independent filmmaker and freelance editor, he'll cut a music video in an afternoon and then play through Super Mario Bros. in seven minutes just because he can. He also loves to brag about having beaten Viewtiful Joe 1 & 2 on Ultra V-Rated, like he's doing right now. You can reach him at SaulBerenbaum@gmail.com.

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