Android’s OUYA Seeks to Revolutionize Console Gaming

“OUYA: The revolution will be televised.” That’s a phrase you’ll see a lot on the upcoming console’s Kickstarter page. But what exactly is OUYA?

It’s an open, hackable game console powered by Android. The developers of OUYA want to make it easy for anyone and everyone to make games for the TV. OUYA will strip away licensing fees, retail fees, and publishing fees. All games will be accessible on the OUYA for free-with-an-asterisk. This means that one of the only things OUYA does require is that part of the developer’s game be free. Whether that means the game has the free-to-play model like League of Legends, or the game simply offers a free trial to allow gamers to test it out, some part has to be free.

The console itself will cost around $100 and the layout of its menu looks a lot like Xbox’s menu. The developers have brought in designer, Yves Behar (founder of fuseproject), to help design the look of the console and the controller. The controller looks pretty impressive. They’ve been working on it a lot and it will have “fast buttons, triggers, laser-precise analog sticks, a D-Pad,” and a touchpad for mobile and tablet ports. I think the touchpad feature is a neat concept; we’ll just have to wait to see whether the control is actually as good as its design seems.

The console is, as mentioned earlier, completely hackable. Being an Android product, it’s been designed from the start to be hackable. The console will be easy to open for hardware hacks and rooting it will not void your warranty. Here’s a list of the specs for OUYA so far:

  • 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

Already, OUYA has attracted developers. Minecraft, among other games, will be on the console from day one. But this console isn’t just for playing games, it’s for watching games, too. Twitch.TV will be supported from day one as well, so get the popcorn ready.

The public has already responded to a OUYA in a big way. Through Kickstarter, the OUYA developers were looking to raise $950,000 in order to turn their prototype into an actual product. Yet, within 8 hours, the Kickstarter beat its goal and raised $1 million, beating Double Fine Adventure‘s record for the project to raise $1 million in the shortest amount of time. It went on to (unsurprisingly) take the top spot for most money raised in a single day at $2.5 million. At the time of publication, OUYA’s Kickstarter has raised over $3.3 million contributed by 26,100 backers. I’m certain that it’ll reach $4 million shortly.

There is no official release date, but one of the rewards (for contributing $10,000+) is for a private dinner the night before the launch, and its “estimated delivery” says March 2013, so that might be when we can expect to get our hands on the OUYA. It all sounds very exciting, but I think I’ll have to wait to see it in action before I commit to buying a console.