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The OUYA: Can it succeed?

OUYA Screenshot - 1112068

There’s no shortage of dependable game consoles on the market right now, with the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in millions of homes and the Nintendo Wii U building steam towards a late 2012 release.  But it seems a lot more focus is going on mobile gaming, with millions of apps available between the Android and Apple’s App Store, for its iOS devices.  And it’s a trend that’s on the rise, and one that probably won’t be losing any speed anytime soon.

With that, we were wondering how long it would take for someone to consider producing an Android-based console for the home market, something that would allow gamers to take their favorite mobile games and play them in high-definition on a television.  Well, thanks to the folks behind OUYA, it’s happening sooner than you think.

Ouya

The company opened up its Kickstarter yesterday (you can find the link at http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/ouya/ouya-a-new-kind-of-video-game-console), promising that the new console would help mesh console and mobile gaming together into one smooth flowing experience, without the need to own retail copies of the game or mess with system malfunctions.  

The system, developed by the team at Jambox, is a small little unit, along the same lines as the OnLive TV system, where users can access a menu and try out any of the games they wish to purchase before making an investment.  Once they do make a purchase, they’re able to keep their virtual library on their system, so they can just go and start up whatever they like.  So, in a way, it’s a form of “cloud gaming”, but for the first time, it’s Android based for the home market.

Ouya 2

Judging by newcomers in gaming’s past, not everyone is meant for success.  Take the 3DO, for instance.  Backed by big-time electronics manufacturers like Panasonic and Toshiba, the next-gen system did post some impressive specs, with many games like Road Rash and Madden NFL Football paving the way for technology as we see it today.  Still, it failed, despite the company’s best efforts to spread the world.  And don’t even get us started on the Atari Jaguar.

But unlike those two electronic screw-ups, the OUYA is a lot smaller, much more convenient when it comes to running games, and most importantly, quite affordable.  In fact, the Kickstarter program provides an option to donate $99 and get a system with a controller when it launches.  (You’ll have to add $20 for shipping outside of the US and $30 for another controller, but that’s a small price to pay.)  Yes, the games cost extra, but you get a sleek little game console for a rather quaint price – a far cry from what we’re used to with game consoles. It was also revealed that all games will be free to try, and some even free to play.

OUYA sales

Plus the Android app store provides plenty of great games right off the bat, including Shadowgun, Canabalt and other upcoming mobile releases.  Though we haven’t had a chance to test out the controller yet (OnLive’s is such a pain), we’re confident that the team at Jambox can easily recreate the feel of mobile games, but without needing to erroneously slide your finger across the screen.  We could be in for something good here.

We’re likely to test out the OUYA well before its release in early 2013, so be sure to check back for impressions of what to expect from this service.  But judging by its popularity (it reached its Kickstarter goal in less than a day!), we haven’t heard the last of these guys.  There could very well be a new player in town.

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Robert Workman
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