The release of Nintendo’s Wii U in November 2012 kicked off the eighth generation of home video game consoles. The next console due for release in early 2013, the OUYA, raises many new ideas and concepts the established console heavy weights will need to address.
The last time we looked at the OUYA, it was burning up the Kickstarter charts. By the time the fundraising exercise ended, on August 9, 2012, OUYA had raised $8,596,475 - a staggering 900% of their goal! OUYA ended up becoming the second highest earner in Kickstarter’s history.
OUYA could be a game changer, in much the same way as Nintendo’s Wii was six years ago. Instead of incrementally improving an existing system, the Wii brought gaming to a huge group of non-gamers and in the process became the biggest selling seventh generation console. OUYA holds out the promise to be as disruptive, but for a very different reason.
All OUYA games are free to download. There is no such thing as a “paid app” This means games will have a free demo or level before a paid experience begins. This model used to be called “shareware” and was the reason DOOM came to be installed on over 10 million computers in a matter of a few months way back in 1995.
Games can also be “free-to-play” with the broad story and game content free, but extra in-app premium items (“Big Freaking Gun”) and content needing to be purchased. Currently there are 19 exclusive OUYA games being readied for publication when the console is launched. OnLive, a cloud gaming platform with over 300 games is supporting OUYA. OUYA is based on Android, the Linux-based operating system from Google. Any game or application already published to Android will be accessible on OUYA. At last count there were over 1 000 games available for Android.
Android is not just about games. Video and music streaming players, entertainment apps, and pretty much anything else you can think of runs on Android. Considering there are over 700,000 apps available for the Android platform, you could find many other things to do with your OUYA after your game playing time is up.
What about under the hood? OUYA uses the Tegra 3 quad-core processor from NVIDIA. Is it any good for gaming?
A local game developer, open-reset has created a light-hearted, side scrolling shoot ‘em up with platforming elements called Bounty Arms. The game is optimised for the Tegra 3 processor. I asked Bernard Bell, senior programmer on Bounty Arms, what he thinks about the Tegra 3: "Mobile technology has taken leaps and bounds in the last couple of years. It’s staggering to see the amount of power the current generation of tablets and phones have. With Bounty Arms we exceeded what we thought the limit would be and managed to reach much further afield."
OUYA’s vision of an open source, free to play console world is a bold one. It’s going to be interesting to see how it lives up to the promise. I for one can’t wait. Anything that grows gaming and makes it accessible to more people is a good thing in my book. Roll on April 2013’s OUYA launch date!
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