Ouya: android gaming console for less than $100 and free games


well shit the bed

Kickstarter project reached its funding goal in less than eight hours, topping $1 million just after 5:15 p.m. ET. The speed of success recalled that of Double Fine's Kickstarter project from February.

A high-tech dream team is backing the new Ouya video game console, which started its fund-raising campaign today on Kickstarter.com.

About the size of a Rubik's cube, the Ouya set-top box is smaller than traditional systems, but the controller is comparable in size to current models. Features include buttons, two joysticks, a directional pad and a touch pad.

The company is looking to raise $950,000 on Kickstarter.com to fund fine-tuning and manufacturing of the system. (Here's our full story on Ouya.)

Award-winning industrial designer Yves Béhar, the founder of Fuseproject and chief creative officer at Jawbone where he designed the wireless Jambox speaker, is fashioning the console and controller. "He is the best designer outside of Apple," says Ouya CEO Julie Uhrman. "He really understands how to build something that is beautiful with high performance that is really affordable and attainable for everybody."

Other big names on board include Minecraft developer Markus "Notch" Persson, who plans to deliver an updated version of his hit game for the console. Indie game designer Adam Saltzman (Canabalt) is another supporter, as are former Microsoft Xbox executive Ed Fries, Peter Pham of incubator firm Science and longtime video game executive Brian Fargo, founder of InXile Entertainment and previously at Interplay, who is also an investor.

Other investors include Jawbone founder Hosain Rahman, Digg founder Jay Adelson, Flixster founder Joe Greenstein, Amol Sarva, founder of cloud software company Peek and Eric Hautemont, co-founder of board game publisher Days of Wonder.

"When I was telling people, 'I have this idea for an open console based on Android and all the games will be free to play so you don't have to spend $60 and get upset and the gamers could get into it for less than $100 bucks. What do you think about this?' the most common response was 'Yeah, wow. I'm surprised no one has done this already'," Uhrman says.

Game developers that Ouya has informed about the project include ThatGameCompany's Jenova Chen, who said, "I'm excited for Ouya! I am a firm believer that there is always room to challenge the status quo" in a testimonial quote on the Kickstarter page.

Development software is included on each console so that it is easy to create games on the open source Android system. "At the end of the day, we view this as the people's console," Uhrman says. "This is affordable for gamers at the less than $100 price point where all these games are free to play and for developers it is open so whatever they conceive they can finally get onto the television. ... What Kickstarter will allow us to do is get feedback and support early from gamers and developers and have them on board to support this."

the Streif

It will run the new Unobtanium engine.


Darkness always says hello.
Its a dumb idea and it shouldnt happen. I saw a story on IGN about the next Xbox being $99 and tied into cable subscription. Its just a dumb idea.


Registered User
Some form of open source platform would be great, but it will never work. A locked down platform is the best way to thwart piracy.


I'm Biv Dick Black, the Over Poster.
They needed less than $1-million...they raised 3.5-million as of yesterday.

There is a huge demand for this among independent developers and the low price point will make this extremely attractive to consumers. Look at how successful Xbox Live Arcade has been. Small time developers would have a chance to make games and get a wide release without having to deal with the nonsense from Sony and MS. Not to mention all the house wives who will jump at the chance to play Farmville in the living room. And since there are so many games are already available on the Android platform they will not have to worry about software catching up.

I really think people are underestimating this.


Registered User
Ummm.. Like the EVO2? Less a couple bucks? I really don't know, please don't nerd attack.


Registered User
Okay, that makes more sense. Hardwarewise it doesn't sound all that impressive. It sounds like an open sourced version of the Wii. It even has the same sort of cutesy name.

They needed less than $1-million...they raised 3.5-million as of yesterday.

There is a huge demand for this among independent developers and the low price point will make this extremely attractive to consumers. Look at how successful Xbox Live Arcade has been. Small time developers would have a chance to make games and get a wide release without having to deal with the nonsense from Sony and MS. Not to mention all the house wives who will jump at the chance to play Farmville in the living room. And since there are so many games are already available on the Android platform they will not have to worry about software catching up.

I really think people are underestimating this.

transit grinder

Baglin' with the Sex
Can't wait for it to fill up with clones of the same game, and vibrating "sex simulators."


Registered User
I hope this is real and that it courts indie developers that want to makes games that AREN'T "streamlined" for a "broader audience." Balder's Gate, KOTOR, Morrowind, Gothic 2, Deus Ex, Battlefront: remember how good these were?

I'm not that delusional though, if it is real I'm afraid it'll just be about angry birds on the TV.


Registered User
A tech Journalist at Penny Arcade is highly skeptical. He points out some of the misleading things about their claims. For one thing, they don't have a single working game nor has any game developer officially signed on to the platform. Mojang has not signed on like they claim.
He also points out that the Indy Developers they are marketing for are not strapped for development kits. All you need is a 4 year old PC.

Points out other stuff in the article.


The reality of the OUYA console doesn’t match the hype: why you should be skeptical

There is a reason that the press around the newly-announced OUYA game console is based almost exclusively around the amount of money being raised by the product’s Kickstarter, and that reason is simple: There is very little else to report on. There is almost no information about the state of production hardware, and in fact nearly everything about the system seems to be in flux. The Kickstarter page contradicts itself on some points, and many of the images and statements seem to be intentionally misleading.

While there are many aspects of the OUYA game console that are attractive, there are many more reasons to be skeptical about what’s being offered.

The system doesn’t actually exist, at least not yet

The Kickstarter page states there is a single working prototype of the hardware. Everything else, from the digital distribution platform that will sell the games to the internal components that will make up the final product are in the first stages of production. That’s an uncomfortable reality for a product that’s supposed to hit the market by March of next year.

“We have a functional prototype, and we have almost completed our industrial design (the shape and materials of the product you see here),” the Kickstarter page states. “We know the hardware specifications, and are working with electrical and mechanical engineers to test the performance of the hardware. We have begun work on the user interface and software. We’ll pull all these pieces together and test how they fit, while we finalize the product.” There isn’t a finished design for the external case, and work has only begun on the interface and the software that will power the hardware, not to mention the challenge of creating the online store that will sell and deliver the games.

Creating a robust, stable platform to offer for-pay game downloads is a complicated undertaking, and according to the Kickstarter page work has only just begun on that aspect of the project. The specifications seem to be in place, but testing can be a long and tricky process, even with known components. There are only eight months between now and the stated ship date of March 2013. That would be an aggressive timeline if we were talking about Microsoft or Valve, much less an untested startup. I asked specifically about the ambition of this product, and my misgivings about the goal of a March launch. “We continue to march toward that date,” I was told via email. No further details were given.

There are more basic problems, such as the lack of a final controller design. The video on the Kickstarter page shows a few mockups and models, but only one side of what looks to be a production controller has been shown to the public. I asked about this as well. “That design is not final,” I was told. “We are in a prototype phase and exploring several options.” That’s why they can’t show a finished controller; there isn’t one. No one knows what it will be, or how it will look. When a product makes such a big deal out of the fact it uses a standard controller to interact with games on the television, it’s unsettling to have so few details about how that controller will look, much less operate.
t’s likewise important to note that the company refuses to confirm the existence of a single game that will run on the OUYA hardware. I asked if they could confirm a single game for the platform. “Not at this time,” I was told. “We are obviously talking to developers behind the scenes but feel that its too early to announce.”

But wait, isn’t Minecraft a game that will run on the OUYA? “Mojang has committed that Minecraft (and their other games) will be on OUYA,” the Kickstarter page stated. The next sentence, however, makes it very clear that there is not the case: “But only if we prove that we can make a great product (that’s our job) AND enough people want their games (that’s your job). Show them with your numbers that you want Minecraft on OUYA!” In other words, there is no commitment being made, and no reason to believe the game will ever come to the platform. If the console sells well and consumers seem to be interested in the product, Mojang may offer its games on the platform. That’s a very big “if.”

The promotional video states outright that Minecraft is coming to the system, which is, at best, misleading. I’ve contacted Mojang for clarification, and will update the story with any comment.

Another problem is the fact the OUYA does little except further fragment the Android market, although I was told that’s not an issue. “There will be only one chipset for OUYA and a totally standard one at that,” I was told. “This is the best way to develop Android for TV. We will work hard to make it as standard as possible.” I’m going to be blunt: That’s a ridiculous answer, and it’s akin to claiming the Kindle Fire doesn’t count as market fragmentation as long as you only develop for the Kindle Fire.

The OUYA will use a controller when most Android games are designed for the touch screens of phones or tablets, which is a problem. Games are either going to have to be designed from the ground up for the OUYA, or ported from other Android devices that rely on touch screen controls. Unless the hardware sells a few million units very quickly, neither option is going to be attractive to smaller, or even AAA, developers.

It’s selling a dream, not a solution

“I’m skeptical of why people are so excited about OUYA,” Antichamber developer Alexander Bruce said. “If you want to develop a game for consoles with less gatekeeping than PSN or XBLA, I’m pretty sure that’s what XBLIG was supposed to be for, but people aren’t exactly going crazy over selling their games there. If openness is your main concern, I’m not sure what is stopping you from targeting the PC and selling games directly through your website. I personally believe that until you’ve got a high quality game on your hands, where you sell it or which gatekeepers you have to get past aren’t your biggest problems.”

I spoke with Robert Boyd, who has released retro-styled RPGs on both the PC and the Xbox Live Indie Channel, and he has harsh words for the system. He’s the sort of developer OUYA is trying to attract, but he doesn’t buy any of the system’s strengths. (Disclosure: Zeboyd Games developed On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness 3, which is a Penny Arcade title)

“My main problem with the OUYA is that it’s selling a dream: ‘The Console for Indie Developers,’” he explained. “It’s primary selling points are that it’s cheap and developers can make games for it without buying expensive development kits. However, you can already get all that with a cheap PC and unlike the OUYA, the install base for the PC is already massive.”

He also rejects the idea that an “open platform” is the secret to independent success. “The reality is harsh; we’ve seen what happens with open platforms. Look at Xbox Live Indie Games, where very few developers were able to make a living off of it and now the platform is dominated by knock-offs of popular games and wannabe Japanese softcore porn,” he said. “The Apple App Store has been more successful than XBLIG, but even there, you either get in the top 10 and make a fortune or you ‘die in obscurity.’ And the Android is even more open than Apple’s and yet how many success stories do you hear for Android developers? Not many.” Keep in mind all of these platforms have an installed base many times that of the OUYA.

“It’s hard enough to make a living as an indie developer on a popular platform like Steam. Even on popular platforms, there are many games, both indie and otherwise, that fail to sell enough to support the developer. However, trying to make a living on a niche console like the OUYA feels like an even bigger gamble,” he continued.

OUYA is actually making these problems worse with its marketing. “Finally, the creators of OUYA are actively encouraging both free-to-play, all games must be ‘free-to-play’ although their definition is very loose and includes demos and purchase for full version, and hacking. Trying to get a significant portion of an audience like that to actually pay money for a game and not just spend all their time on free emulators for old arcade and video game systems could prove challenging indeed.”

The OUYA console will likely be the Android platform with the lowest installed base, and it will require the most work to get games looking good and playing well compared to the Android handsets and tablets that make up the majority of the market. Why retool your existing Android games to use a controller and look good on your television when you’re targeting an untested platform? Piracy will also be a major concern, due to the fact that rooting the device will be made as simple as possible. Developers already wrestle with pirated and cloned games in the Android ecosystem, and the OUYA prides itself in being open and hackable, both in terms of software and hardware. That’s attractive in some ways, but it also makes it very easy for piracy and other shady activities to thrive.

So not only is there no finished hardware, no service at the moment, no controller, and no games—although we’re being asked to take their word that they can create each of those things in eight months—but focusing development costs on an incredibly risky platform with a small installed base and features that make piracy all but given makes no sense for most developers who release games you’d like to play. It’s an environment that not makes little sense for commercial development, in many ways it’s actively hostile to people hoping to create games for it.

The OUYA may find a home for people interested in hacking, piracy, and fun homebrew projects, but most details about the project point to an ecosystem that, if launched, will make very little sense to support commercially.
The hype doesn’t match the reality

The entire system hangs on the ability that you want to play ported Android games on a cheap system, with an unseen controller, on a television screen. While many developers are willing to provide quotes about how great the OUYA could be, so far no one is willing to put their money where their mouth is and announce projects for the hardware. No one involved in the project has experience launching products even close to the complexity of the OUYA, in terms of either gaming hardware, software, and services.

At least, we don’t think so. “There are plenty of other people involved, but some of them would get fired if we tell you who they are,” the Kickstarter page stated. That doesn’t inspire confidence, and if any of these individuals works at a company that owns their extra-curricular output, which is a sadly common state of affairs, the legal mess could become quite deep.

It will be great if the OUYA is a high quality system that finds success, despite the fact it’s worth throwing some cold water on the hype. The more homes developers can find for their games, the better for everyone. Still, the challenges the system faces and the fact the OUYA doesn’t have a single game to promote should make you cautious, not excited. There is nothing wrong with taking a step back from the hype and waiting until the system is released commercially and has a robust catalog of games to enjoy. Until then? Caveat emptor.

transit grinder

Baglin' with the Sex
I can't believe they raised over 4 million fucking dollars after reading that. I'm sure there are fine products/things that have been funded by kickstarter in the past/currently, but the website seems to be the go to place for "idea men" to go looking for quick money and hopefully someone to actually execute their idea. "We've studied gaming and tech nerds for a few weeks and have come up with this specific project to play on all of their desires. We'll rake in the cash!"

I'm hoping there's some sort of system in place where they don't get that money if they don't show what they've promised?

The dude that claimed to be making THE BEST MMO OF ALL TIME is another example of "I've got the idea now someone else do the work!!" I hope everyone that invested in that MMO piece of shit got their level 1 mount that would go 10% faster than...something. He pretty much asked every person that donated what they would like in an MMO and said "well, what do you know, mine is going to have that! now here are three character models (aka sketches) that you will be able to choose from!"



transit grinder

Baglin' with the Sex
Do people that have seen Avatar agree with the great Mr. Hughes' assessment that it's pointless to watch the movie if you don't see it in IMAX 3D Smell-o-vision?


Do people that have seen Avatar agree with the great Mr. Hughes' assessment that it's pointless to watch the movie if you don't see it in IMAX 3D Smell-o-vision?
Since the only good thing about Avatar was the 3D, I'd say yes.

transit grinder

Baglin' with the Sex
Does anyone have a 3D TV I can come sit in front of for the duration of the movie? PM me if so.

Thread back on the rails.

I don't hate the idea, I'm just extremely skeptical towards what these people will actually accomplish, even given those funds.


You guys are too cynical. I never saw Avatar in 3D. I liked it. I know it's a rehashed story but it was fun to watch. Sorry. Lighten up.
I was offended by it as a science fiction fan more than anything. It is horribly hack and lacks any kind of imagination in the alien world, society, etc.