The ‘net is buzzing with a strange new word that promises a brave new world: Ouya. Pronounced “Ooh-yah”, the Ouya is a video game console that’s being developed and funded in an open and novel fashion – through a Kickstarter campaign.
The Ouya, brainchild of Julie Uhrman (lately of Vivendi Universal, IGN, and GameFly) and Yves Behar (of Jambox and One Laptop per Child fame), is designed to be a console that is completely moddable, is designed in an open and transparent fashion for the hacking community, and already carries several big name game titles, including Final Fantasy III, Canabalt, Minecraft, and many other titles. They are currently aiming at a March, 2013 release for Kickstarter backers, and a little later for the wider gaming community.
From their Kickstarter:
“OUYA is a new game console for the TV, powered by Android. We’ve packed this little box full of power. Developers will have access to OUYA’s open design so they can produce their games for the living room, taking advantage of everything the TV has to offer. Best of all, OUYA’s world-class controller, console, and interface come in one beautiful, inexpensive package. All the games on it will be free, at least to try.”
A tall order, to be sure. Of the many challenges Ouya faces, free game distribution has too often become pay-to-win, instead of free-to-play. Their pricing is encouraging, however – initial baselines indicate that an Ouya, with controller, will only set customers back $99. This certainly undercuts the expected costs of next-gen consoles like the PS4 and Xbox 720 by a great margin, and may appeal to a broader market of gamers that never before considered buying a game console.
One of the most surprising aspects of this console design is the complete transparency with which the Ouya will debut. To quote the Kickstarter, the Ouya is “easy to root (and rooting won’t void your warranty). Everything opens with standard screws. Hardware hackers can create their own peripherals, and connect via USB or Bluetooth.” They even offer to send interested designers the hardware specs. Below are the expected specifications for the innards of the Ouya:
Finally, with deals in place with game community giants like Twitch.TV, Ouya is positioned to attract hardcore gamers with a novel, adaptable design that allows access to the hardcore gaming internet community, while providing more casual players an affordable, accessible console that will bring gaming off of platforms like Facebook and Zynga and on to their living room TVs.
There’s still a week left in the Kickstarter campaign, which has already raised over $6 million (of it’s $950,000 goal!) from 46,770 backers, so if you want to get in on the ground floor, check out their page.
Excited about the potential of the Ouya? Think it’s a game-changer? Let us know in the comments below!
James (or Mick) is a part-time writer, editor, and full-time gamer. He hails from the Washington, D.C. area, but currently lives in Chicago where he's pursuing a law degree.