Unless you are a hardcore gamer, or up on the latest home theater gadgets, you may have never heard of the OUYA. This tiny game console is no larger than a coffee mug, yet powerful enough to play games and stream video at full HD (1080i). The OUYA is slated to be in stores by April 2013 with an equally small price tag - $99.99.
The tiny OUYA is the brainchild of Julie Uhrman, a game industry veteran who noted that many gamers were leaving TV-based consoles behind for games on mobile platforms. Part of the reason was cost, many mobile games are free or only cost a few dollars, while the latest releases for current consoles can be as much as $60. Another reason was the wide diversity of games available. Independent game developers are essentially shut out of the TV console market, so they have turned their talents toward mobile games, which have much smaller development costs. Many of which, such as Angry Birds by Finnish software developer Rovio Entertainment, became huge successes. Uhrman was inspired to bring the same open development model to TV gaming and got to work.
Soon, with the help of a great team and a very successful Kickstarter campaign, Uhrman raised 8.6 million dollars to develop the OUYA. It’s powerful hardware and features are able to carry a small price tag for three big reasons:
- Hardware – The PC board is tiny, but made with cutting edge hardware from NVIDIA, who make high-end video cards for gamers. The small circuit board carries a Tegra 3 Quad-core CPU, 1GB RAM, 8GB of Flash Storage and built-in WiFi, Ethernet and Bluetooth. The Operating System is Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. This powerful combination of hardware and software give the OUYA full HD capability and 5.1 Surround Sound. The OUYA can also stream video and music with apps from iHeartRadio and Plex.
- Games – All of the games being developed for the OUYA have one mandate – they either need to be free or offer free trials. This allows gamers to “try before they buy”. Also, because OUYA uses the Android operating system, prices are expected to be low for games as they are for mobile devices. Game developers can also make games with very little upfront capital as seen in the next section.
- Versatility - Every OUYA can also be used to develop new games, so aspiring game designers can build their own games and share them with the OUYA community. Hardware modders can even open up the OUYA console itself and tinker with the insides. This behavior is not only tolerated but encouraged by the developers.