OUYA: Android Based Game Console Takes Kickstarter And The World By Storm

from the up-up-down-down-left-right-left-right-b-a dept

For those that read Techdirt regularly, the idea of disruptive technology is nothing new. We have seen people and businesses bring disruption to many industries as well as to many business models. The internet has allowed such disruption to spread at a far faster pace than in previous decades. For example, services like YouTube, Netflix and Hulu have turned the world of film and television upside down. For music it was the mp3 and everything that it allowed. With video games, the story is not quite as well defined.

We have seen some disruption over the years, the Wii being a primary one. It showed the gaming world that the graphical arms race of previous console generations was not as important as innovation in the way people play games. Another disruption happened because of Facebook and mobile gaming. These platforms brought with them the proliferation of a free-to-play business model for gaming. The idea that people could play games for free and then pay money later was something never tried since shareware fell out of favor. These little pockets of disruption have shown that there is a market for gaming outside the typical retail console and PC arena. A market that is ripe for the harvesting.

With all that in mind, imagine the breath of fresh air for gamers when a new Android based console, the OUYA, was announced via Kickstarter. The OUYA promises to be just the kind of disruption the games industry needs. Describing this need, the creators say:

The console market is pushing developers away. We’ve seen a brain drain: 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.

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!

Among its chief selling points is the open development environment. This means that anyone can make and sell games on the console with the only barriers to entry being owning the console and making sure that some aspect of the game is free to play. For gamers, the only barrier to entry to playing these games is the initial $99 it costs.

So how well was this new console received? Well, Kickstarter itself has that covered in a blog post:

Yesterday a video game project called Ouya became the eighth project in Kickstarter history to raise more than a million dollars, and the fastest ever to do so. Ouya hit the total in just over eight hours, shattering the previous record.

As you might expect, Ouya also has the biggest single-day total in Kickstarter history. It received more than $2.5 million in pledges from its launch on Tuesday at 8:44am to Wednesday at 8:44am.

Two Kickstarter records broken in a single day by a single project. The only other project to pull that off was another game project, Double Fine Adventure. The funding hasn’t stopped just with these broken records either. It has already surpassed $4 million dollars with over 30,000 backers, and it shows no sign of stopping. With this kind of backing in less than two days, this console and what it plans to do with the games industry will be tough to ignore.

The overall impact the OUYA will have on the games industry is still very much up in the air. However, we do know it has become an overnight success in the minds of both developers and gamers alike. People who are very much willing to part with their money for the promise of a major shift in the way we consume games. I know it has made me jump at the chance to get in on the first run.

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Companies: kickstarter, ouya

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Comments on “OUYA: Android Based Game Console Takes Kickstarter And The World By Storm”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Some are sceptical: http://penny-arcade.com/report/editorial-article/the-reality-of-the-ouya-console-doesnt-match-the-hype-why-you-should-be-ske

He makes some good points but some of them are rather unfair in my opinion such as talking about how the hardware isn’t done yet. Despite promoting a number of Kickstarters in the past, Kuchera doesn’t seem to understand that helping fund something that isn’t done yet is kind of the whole point there.

I got in on the $95 tier before it sold out and while I would like to see OUYA issue some clarifications to the more misleading points in their marketing message (and there are several), the nice thing about Kickstarter is I have a month until the project’s deadline to back out if I get cold feet.

blaktron (profile) says:

The 2 problems that are dealbreakers for the OUYA are:

1) Only 3 games for android support a gamepad currently, so there would be no leveraging the Play Store as is implied

2) This is terrible terrible hardware to try and bring new developers in on. There is a better chance of WindowsRT becoming a game platform than this.

Homebrew games will obviously be popular, but ‘console’ titles not so much. Also, android doesnt play nice with CIFS/SMB (i know it can, just not well or easily) so it doesnt make much of a media center (as the other 3 consoles do).

JaseP says:

Re: Re:

Uh… No, This is quad core Tegra running Android 4.03, so It’ll run just about any game currently out there for Android, as well as Netflix, Hulu Plus, 5he VLC alpha test build, etc…. might need a mod to make the analog sticks function as accelerometers, … But they have time to build that in… They’re not expecting to ship before 3/13. With an existing Android developer base, and developers already talking about building for it, it’ll be easy for it to gain traction. A couple of slight mods to their existing games,… and presto!,… a version for this gadget.

It’s rootable,… so It’s a snap to build in Samba client (or server) support, or any other file server architecture for that matter. They might just do from the get-go.

Being rootable, it’ll be nothing to get Play Store on it, or any other market app, for that matter.

So,… nope no cigar

Mike42 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Beyond that, the controllers have a touchpad built in, so no dice on your “only 3 games” line, either. Somehow I think that the current developers of Android games could be compelled to bring gamepad support to their apps once this console becomes a reality.

This has been a long time coming, and the masses have spoken with their wallets.

rjh says:

Re: Oh, rubbish...

While it is true that my biggest disappointment with my older Android 2.2 device was that it had no support for CIFS/SMB (unforgivable on a media consumption device), my current 4.0.4 device has support in the kernel, and it works perfectly.

This is brilliant hardware to get an ecosystem going – while the Ouya may retain a premium position in the market, there is going to be a huge amount of competition. With low barriers to entry (the hardware cost is likely to be lower than MS’ RT licensing cost alone) and the “throw the previous customer under the bus” Chinese approach to product evolution, we’re going to remarkable progress in very short time.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

If they implemented something like “usb bt joystick center” app, where you can literally map the onscreen buttons to a respective controller button, i.e. xbox controller wired/wireless, ps3 gamepad and the nintendo wii controller plus classic controller plus ir motion control…….well, with an app like that implemented you dont need developers to make their “touchscreen” based games compatible, as for me, the app works VERY well, although it does have a steep learning curve

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Hopes? High. Expectations? Well....

Till I see more of the XBox 720, it’s vaporware at its finest, as are all devices in the process of development. The only difference between this and any console developed by Sony, Microsoft or Nintendo is that we’re getting the ability to fund it and see the development process before some marketing drone decides to release it.

I somehow bet your attitude to a large corporation would be a little different, though. Keep kissing those boots…

Mesonoxian Eve (profile) says:

I’m going to be frank here: while I absolutely applaud Ouya for getting the funds to create a new game console, I will not buy it.

In looking at how this ideology is being applied to other technologies, it just means consumers are eventually going to get nickled and dimed to death, content’s going to be taken down thanks to the DMCA, and the current industry will do everything to prevent its success.

All I see them doing is raising capital for the inevitable lawsuits.

But kudos for trying.

:Lobo Santo (profile) says:

Introducing: Teh futurez!

Man, much instant nay-saying!

AC is on it with “vaporware at its’ finest”, but seriously, what’s wrong with selling a dream and then maybe making that dream come true?

So, right now, they got nothing. Big deal! Who cares?

What they have besides nothing, is funding. And that IS a big deal. Maybe something will come of it–maybe something won’t.

I shall reserve judgement. Sometimes a “wait and see” attitude is the best one can do.

Donnicton says:

Part of the biggest tasks for analysts will be figuring out how much of it was backed because of the potential to disrupt the industry, versus how much people simply like gimmicky techie stuff.

A lot of times you only need to throw around the words “Apple”, “iPhone”, “iPad”, or “Android” and people will throw their life savings at you like it was a principle.

The Pebble Kickstarter is a good example of this. Exactly how useful would a Pebble actually be compared to simply carrying around the phone that it’s designed to interface with? That still has yet to be determined outside of the realm of your daily jog. However, that hasn’t stopped it from vaulting over the ten million mark before the creators of the project had to manually halt the Kickstarter before they were impossibly overloaded with backers. It’s probably going to end up being the same situation here.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

how much people simply like gimmicky techie stuff.

Oh yeah. This right here. I backed this thing, but not because I expect it to disrupt the game industry and certainly not because I expect their service to be good. I “ordered” one because I wanted an inexpensive hacking toy that looks neat and comes with controllers.
It’s somewhere between a tablet and a PC, it’s cheap, and you are encouraged to root it and do stuff. Sounds like fun to me!

Anonymous Coward With A Unique Writing Style says:

Re: The greater good kicks ass

It was my understanding this would be running Ice Cream Sandwich, if that’s the case then the functional browser as well as free and secure email are already built in. The stock browser on ICS is easy to use (and a touch better than Chrome, although now that that’s out of Beta it might just become better than the stock browser), and the fact that it’s Android naturally means you should already have a Gmail account to use with it.

Lord Binky says:

As meaningfull as people want it to be. This is chump change in corporate console world. The big names aren’t really missing out, they see this market as beneath them. Their standards for appropriate profits are also so skewed that they try not to let on how little they actually care about a mere couple million, lest people stop being sympathetic to any of their cries of woe about only making millions in profit instead of hundreds of millions….

Rikuo (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Really? You think this won’t frighten the Big Three? Just think about it for a minute: this is another machine that’s designed to sit underneath your TV and play games on.
Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft don’t want that to happen. Any time someone plays a game the OUYA is a time they’re not playing on a PS3, Xbox or Wii.
Not everyone is like me and has all the consoles hooked up. Most people have one. Most people won’t want to get a second machine. Those who do buy the OUYA will also more than likely say “No, I don’t want a second machine, I won’t get a mainstream console”.

varagix says:

Re: Re: Re:

That’s assuming anyone interested in having a console doesn’t already have one of the ‘Big Three’. Most gamers I know have at least one, if not all three. Also those consoles also have the advantage of a huge catalog of games; the current generation is going on… what? Seven years now? A new console will face some really stiff competition.

Ninja (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Same specs of my Transformer Prime tablet from ASUS. And I have shitloads of fun with my games there. ALL OF THEM FREE so far.

So uh… I’m sponsoring it. And Sony, M$, Nintendo can go sodomize themselves with a retractable DRM baton.

On a side note I have one interesting issue now. I’ve bought Minecraft for my cell phone. Will I be able to install it on my tablet? I mean it’s mine so install on my devices, right? I’m bookmarking this article to post the results here but I believe I’ll need to root my tablet and pirate it.

Kevin S (profile) says:

I’m in the same camp as the naysayers, unfortunately. The PA report makes a good point that hasn’t been adequately explained yet.

It’s not that they “have nothing” and are raising money (which is perfectly fine, in my books), it’s that they’re promising release by MARCH NEXT YEAR. That’s 7-8 months to go from nothing to a fully-fledged game console, complete with online game store, library of games, licensing, packaging, marketing, FCC/sale validation, etc. all of which has to be extensively tested.

They don’t even have a final controller design or hardware. I’d expect that to take 6 months alone!

Make no mistake. I think their dream is amazing, and I’ll be first in line on launch day to buy a console (at full retail price) if they clear all the hurdles in their way. But I don’t expect it to happen by March 2013.

Designerfx (profile) says:

Re: Re:

as someone who works for companies that do the fcc validation stuff – this is correct. If they don’t start that part of the process like…tomorrow/next month, it’s definitely not going to happen before middle to end of next year at the earliest.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it’s poor planning.

JoeCool (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

And as someone who has actually gotten a device FCC validated, I can say with all certainty that you and the parent are completely wrong. FCC validation is quick and easy… if your device passes. Your best bet for keeping the process quick is make sure it WILL pass BEFORE you try to get it validated. It took us less than a single week to get our device through FCC testing with all the paperwork done the moment we passed.

Anonymous Coward says:

‘a video game project called Ouya became the eighth project in Kickstarter history to raise more than a million dollars’

and the million and eighth to be targeted for closure by the gaming section the entertainment industries. the industries haven’t released the excuse(s) for wanting to close it down yet, but said they are sure they can think of something!

DannyB (profile) says:

Re: Re:

You say the game console makers will want to shut this down but haven’t thought of an excuse yet?

OK here’s one I just made up.

OMG!!! This $99 box can potentially download pirated content without burdening your primary computer. Even worse, somebody could potentially (whether it ever happens or not) write software for this to automate piracy and then serve the files as a media jukebox to any device in your house, or play them on your TV. That would give people the same or even more convenience than NetFlix — and that just can’t be allowed!

Nevermind how bad it is to give people convenience, this thing could potentially be used for piracy, or holding pirated content, or allowing pirated content to pass through it. For the foregoing reasons of potential misuses, this must be stopped.


How’s that?

Adrian Lopez says:

Is it really as open as people think it is?

According to the OUYA FAQ:

“As with every platform, though, we have to balance openness with a quality user experience. So we’ll have a standard user interface. We’ll curate your games in our storefront so they’re easy for everyone to get to. And we?ll require that all games we put in our store include a free experience. If you don?t like our choices, root the device and make it your own.”

It would seem that OUYA is a walled garden by default, just like iOS. It’s nice that you can root your OUYA without voiding the warranty, but why is limiting what users can run on their consoles seen as a desirable default even to those who claim to support open computing?

Here’s my question to OUYA’s developers, who have yet to respond: “Can games made for OUYA be distributed outside the OUYA store for users to play on non-rooted consoles, or is it more like iOS and XBox Live Arcade which — unmodified, out of the box — will only run games that are sold through the platform’s official store?”

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:


I got the $99 bundle on Tuesday night. With the roomers going around about the next XBox and Play Station, I’m not going to buy ether of them, and the WiiU looks like it sucks. I’m actually excited about the OUYA.

I am not, however, excited about the 8G internal storage. Who in their right mind thinks the same storage as my 3 year old phone is a good idea?

Ben S (profile) says:

Re: Donated

One of the focuses they are aiming for is low cost, and they are using flash storage, same kind as SSD as well as your general USB drives. This kind of storage is not cheap, so it’s hard to include significant amounts of memory and still hit that price point.

One of the things they’ve mentioned is that the USB device will allow for external drives to be used. If you want to make sure you have enough space for your games, get yourself a decent external drive and plug it into the USB. It won’t be as fast as the native hard drive, but it does give you the storage space you’d need.

ECA (profile) says:

Nay sayer, technogeek

Im going with others here and adding a few points to think about..

WOW, all the features and MORE of cellphones/tablets, WITHOUT the cellphone/tablet..
And the COST?? 1/2 to 1/10the the cost of such devices..

I hope there are people out there, that Know about things LIKE the raspberry pi..(there are others out there)

OS/Programming language..ANYONE HEARD of Linux? and XBMC??
There are Full fledged games for over 10 years that are FREE,ONLINE,RPG, almost anything on Linux. Do I have to mention WINE??

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Nay sayer, technogeek

Is someone out there building it so that it is a console instead of something you have to build yourself? I’d buy one but I don’t have the time or energy to fuck with the raspberry pi and make it boot and play like a console (sadly, plenty of know-how from when I used to have the time and energy though).

I agree with what you are saying in principle. However, there’s a reason all phones don’t come as a kit that you have to put together. People want convenience. This is convenient and satisfies some geek lust.

Anonymous Coward says:

"Open" chipset

The FAQ says “Our chipsets aren’t proprietary or secretive”, while the overview lists an Nvidia Tegra 3 processor. Does anyone know what’s going on here? Is the statement a lie, or did they actually get Nvidia to open the specifications for their GPU?

(Historically, they’ve been one of the most secretive chipset manufacturers. At one point, Linux developers even had to reverse-engineer an Nvidia ethernet controller; proprietary ethernet chipsets were pretty much unheard of at the time.)

Peeple says:

No reason to be skeptical the entire thing is grounded in reality

Nothing Exists = Prototyping on the system and controller is complete. Once it’s done it’s off to the manufacturer, where is the market place? Are you f**king kidding me? You can build an open cart store in an afternoon. You know how long it takes a Chinese factory to whip up a controller board design and ship you 10,000 of them? About 60 days. Additionally this hardware is stupid simple, There is no cutting edge parts or engineering design going in to this. It’s basically a PC made with cellphone parts. Do you know how many 600 in 1 el-cheapo consoles are sold on the market? Again you are looking at thousands manufactured a month.

Backers & OUYA heads = These people are not stupid they have been successful at the top tiers of the industry. They know how to put together a business plan, how to set expectations, etc. they are not six nerds throwing together a linux box to “get back at the man”. They are not using kickstarter to fund the console, they are using it to guage interest for VC shopping.

Expectations = Nobody here is trying to compete with the big three. If the box does nothing but allow you to play android games and emulate old consoles that alone is worth $99.

Timing = This isn’t microsoft or sony who can throw money at companies to get them onboard early. OUYA needs to show interest, meaning install base, before people will get on board. Why does this whole project seemed rushed out the door? Because it has to be. This E3 was when the console makers were set to announce next gen hardware. They chose not to leaving a window for someone else to. Once the big 2 announce new hardware, forget about it the OUYA will have to wait 2 or 3 years to be able to be heard above the din. It was now or never.

Games = An android title doesn’t need anything “extra” to be on OUYA. There is a touch pad built in to the controller. As for titles that we know of, we know wasteland 2 is coming to the OUYA as is Minecraft. But like I said above. If OUYA does nothing more than emulate old hardware and play existing android games it’s a success and all the current backers are aware of this.

Success of the indie developers & “a dream not a solution” = Why are games dying in obscurity? New flash App stores, PSN, and XBL are not your marketing channels they are your distribution channels. Expecting the apps store to some how promote your game over all others is as retarded as anyone else that believes in get rich quick schemes. IF OUYA does anything it trims down store content, there will be a lot fewer apps, no AAA titles, no triple AAA DLC, no movies, no tv shows, seems to me that alone is helping the situation.

A lot of you don’t seem to understand who OUYA is targeted at. OUYA is not for people that can and want to spend $1000 on a PC gaming rig. It’s for people that want something cheap. Bringing something in the $200-$300 range and you are entering next gen console territory, now you are not talking indie developers you are talking about needing funding for AAA titles. You can’t bring something like that to market unless you are a big player.

This is very easily going to cost them less than $100

You can grind out controllers for $5. (heres one for $3 http://www.alibaba.com/product-gs/543814771/2012_new_hot_good_usb_game.html)

The processor is $25 (http://news.softpedia.com/news/Nvidia-Tegra-3-Costs-Between-15-25-11-3-to-18-9-Says-Company-236695.shtml)

RAM is $1 (link to 4gig ddr2 if you buy 5000:http://www.alibaba.com/product-gs/465823438/39M5791_ddr2_4_GB_tested_pc2700.html?s=p)

What’s the board, bluetooth,wifi, and ports? $10 max. (heres a link to an entire kinect knock off :http://www.alibaba.com/product-gs/563927145/Hot_iMove_video_game_console_TV.html for $25) It’s safe to say this console might be costing them $60 – $70 shipped.


Orly. Well first off it plays Android games already there is a touch pad built in to the controller and many android games have controller support. Second double Fine has said they will support it and Wasteland 2 inexile owner is an investor so you can bet with wasteland 2 being based off unity it will be a launch title, and you can bet with shadowrun return heirbrained schemes supporting the console that its a strong likely hood of seeing a port.

The people involved with OUYA could never run off with the cash. They would never work in the industry again. Besides $4 million isn’t enough for high seven figure executives to tank their careers.

G Thompson (profile) says:

Re: No reason to be skeptical the entire thing is grounded in reality

I hope you realise that the prices you have 1quoted are retail prices and baer no similarity to what major OEM pricing is. For example if that gaming controller is being sold by manufacturer for more than $1 per 10,000 units I would be very suprised.

Take most of those figures and times them by 1/4 and that is probably more true manufacturing pricing (or LOTS LESS).

The rest of your opinion I absolutely agree with, though I might add that this will compete with the ‘big three’ especially with the next gen stuff both Sony and Microsoft are considering and how they use their networks to download mini-games.

Personally I think a new gaming system, which lets be honest this has the unlimited potential to become a LOT more than just a gaming system, is well overdue. I’d be surprised if ‘Smart’ TV manufacturers don’t even OEM this to include in their hardware. now that would cause MS and Sony to sit up and scream petulant murder ๐Ÿ˜‰

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