It’s the size of a Rubik’s cube, easily modified, includes free-to-play games, and only costs $99. It’s OUYA (sounds like oo-ya), the much-anticipated gaming console that raised more than $8 million on Kickstarter last year. And beginning in June, consumers will be able to purchase their own OUYA at retailers such as GameStop, Best Buy, and Target.
In case you missed its debut, OUYA is an open-source gaming console that runs on Google’s Android platform. Gamers can connect OUYA to their televisions, allowing them to play Android and indie games or apps on their living-room screens. OUYA is marketed as easily modified. This means that it allows hardware hackers to create their own peripherals. Not to be left out of the loop, game developers can also create and sell their own games on the device; the only requirement is that they add a free-to-play component.
OUYA CEO Julie Urhman's announcement says that the tiny gaming box will be launched with 200 titles, including MineCraft, Canabalt, and Final Fantasy III.
Urhman also announced the release of a new OUYA each and every year. The goal of the constant refresh is to create a cycle for the OUYA that parallels that of smart phones.
Urhman assures that all games will have backwards compatibility, allowing OUYA 1 games to play on future OUYA consoles. According to an article on TechCrunch.com, this is because all games will be tied to user accounts, much like the PC marketplace Steam is now. TechCrunch writer Darrell Etherington explains that the digital delivery makes backwards compatibility an easy reality, “since there’s no messy business like disc formats to worry about.”
This is a tough year for a brand new gaming start-up. Nintendo recent released its new Wii U; Sony, and Microsoft are expected to debut new consoles this year. OUYA, however, is not concerned about the competition.
“We don’t need to beat Xbox or Sony or any console that enters the marketplace, we need to carve out our own niche,” Urhman told the WSJ. “OUYA offers a very different value proposition to the gaming you can currently experience.”
According to Urhman, OUYA supports HD and 3-D gaming. The controller will come with eight buttons, a directional pad, and a touch pad. OUYA’s controller can also be hacked for use with other electronics.
“We are okay with that. One of the promises of being open is you can use what we build for other things. But you can create accessories and peripherals for our device as well. At the end of the day, it makes our ecosystem richer,” says Urhman in her WSJ interview.
OUYA will be available for Kickstarter backers in March, followed by pre-orders, all leading up to the the retail debut.