You may well have heard about the newest console 'Ouya' this past month, notibly because it's been getting an incredible amount of attention all across the net. Now that Kickstarter is well over the 5 million dollars drop, it's about time we take a deeper look at the new android-based console and see what features it offers for gamers.
Although I'm talking of a new console, the 'Ouya' is not meant to go competing directly with the other console giants. Boxer8, the team behind Ouya, is moreover looking to play their own game in the industry, focusing on downloadable, free-to-play video games that can be experienced on a low-cost, high power device.
"The Revolution will be televised!" Ouya shouts confidently.
The new console 'Ouya' (or Ou-jah) was developed for the sole purpose of bringing internet and telephone based platforms to the consoles, under which of course configure the indie games. The team says they had observed a 'brain-drain', the console market has pushed developers away to mobile platforms:
"Some of the best, most creative gamemakers are focused on mobile and social games because those platforms are more developer-friendly. And the ones who remain focused on console games can’t be as creative as they’d like."
The solution they found to this was : The Ouya. It's an entire new approach to the industry, its initiative is to offer indie game developers a better chance of bringing their games to the console. Their philosophy goes to say that "real games" deserve to be played on the television too. Their mission? Bring back the innovation, and make fun gaming even more fun and accessible for everyone:
"Let’s open this sucker up! It's time we brought back innovation, experimentation, and creativity to the big screen. Let’s make the games less expensive to make, and less expensive to buy. With all our technological advancements, shouldn't costs be going down? Gaming could be cheaper!"
The team hopes this way they will open the market up a little bit. What's great is that any developer with an Ouya and the system's SDK is allowed to create games for the console, set their own price, and sell them via the system's marketplace.
Hackers are welcome! It might sound crazy, but Boxer8 is inviting all hackers to hack and tweek on the box all they like. (Finally the: 'when the system is sold, it's all yours' phrase can be used here.) Hackers are allowed to create their own peripherals, and connect via USB or Bluetooth. This will equally allow for new opportunities, mods and creativity.
The Ouya is delivered to your living room via a small set-top square box which will be at the price of 99$. Although the team is committed to keeping the manufacture price low per unit, it is absolutely not cutting on the design and specs.
Although a great idea, it must match a specificity in hardware, will the console work correctly. Ouya runs on Android 4.0, known as the OS for telephones. Here are the system's specifications.
- Tegra3 quad-core processor
- 1GB RAM
- 8GB of internal flash storage
- HDMI connection to the TV, with support for up to 1080p HD
- WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
- Bluetooth LE 4.0
- USB 2.0 (one)
- Wireless controller with standard controls (two analog sticks, d-pad, eight action buttons, a system button), a touchpad
- Android 4.0
To be concrete, the system is powerful enough to run any indie game, and sometimes bigger titles but won't be able to support graphic monsters like Crysis 2 or Battlefield 3. To give you an idea, here's a demonstration of the graphics card:
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While Boxer8 insists that the Ouya is capable of delivering "real power" by default, developers and other will have the freedom to take the console apart and augment the software and hardware if they want. Company executives state that "it was built to hack".
The system is controlled by a wireless controller, which has been eagerly designed by the company's engineers (watch the below video). Like the controllers we're familiar with, it will have the standard two analog sticks, directional pad, eight action buttons (front and top) anda home button on the front.
It will equally be equipped with a tactile surface "for those games that will do the journey from mobile or tablet to the television".
The controller however won't have a rumble feature. "We've stripped out the frills," Ouya CEO Julie Uhrman says, explaining that Ouya's controller is focused on "responsiveness and precision."
Like the console itself, the controller can be entirely taken apart and toyed with. "We'll publish the hardware designs, if enough people are curious about it," Uhrman said.
For the moment the team has not yet announced which titles will be coming to the Ouya but the creators claim they already have full support from Prince of Persia creator Jordan Mechner and other big names. Even Mojang, creators of the immensily successful Minecraft IP said they would bring their bestseller to the Ouya. Canabalt developer Adam Saltsman, and Brian Fargo, who is currently working on the Kickstarter-funded Wasteland 2 have also offered their support.
WILL IT WORK?
Judging on Ouya's success up till now, there's no doubt there's a big group of gamers which are willingly supporting the new console by throwing in their money. There is definitely still life in the indie game industry, and Ouya is ready to promote hard work and innovative gaming. Most importantly, they have the possibility of bringing developers back to the television.
It's interesting to see that there are other ways we can play our games on the television. A console running on android which permits hacking will result in a lot of possibilities, and due to the low cost philosophy, the console will probably appeal to a lot of people.
The Ouya will not knock Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony out of the competition, that's pretty certain right now. However it will offer a new, fresh and innovative medium for gaming.
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