Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Ouya: A Dumb Idea With a Dumb Name?

Or a great idea? Today, the Kickstarter for the Ouya began. What is the Ouya? Well, it's an Android based games console. It's even got a touchpad on the controller and everything. Of course, immediately my mind is filled with images of shitty mobile games ported to the big screen, and of course, I hate that idea. Nobody wants a dedicated machine just to play freakin' Cut the Rope. And even worse:

"We're handing the reins over to the developer with only one condition: at least some gameplay has to be free. We borrowed the free-to-play model from games like League of Legends, Team Fortress 2, Triple Town, and many others. Developers can offer a free demo with a full-game upgrade, in-game items or powers, or ask you to subscribe."
 Free to play games at that. Now, if you don't know, "Free to Play" has become synonymous with "Terrible". For every Team Fortress 2, there's 100 Pay Money to Win IV's or There's a Reason It's Free III's.

But really, let's look at this thing.

What these people have created is a developer's dream. And of course, if you get the developers, they'll bring the games. When developing on a traditional console, a developer has a lot of people to answer to. They've got to answer to the publisher, and the publisher has to answer to the platform owner. Microsoft in particular has made it difficult to publish games on its XBLA service. They have a say in what gets published, when it gets published, and how much it can sell for. And they take a big chunk of the money on top of that. With this console, there would be none of that. You make a game, you put out a game. And every unit is also a dev kit, so freaking anybody could make a game on this thing (although, looking at the Xbox LIVE Indie service, that could be a curse as much as a blessing).

With nobody to answer to, developers could let their imaginations run wild. I often lament the lack of innovation and experimentation in today's gaming landscape. But this could change that. Big name developers could be more willing to take risks when there's less money to lose.

But it all comes down to the kind of games this thing brings with it. Is everybody going to scramble to create the simple, glorified Flash games we've come to expect from the mobile market? Or will we actually see something us gamers can really sink our teeth into? The fact that there's actually a real controller with buttons and triggers and all that jazz really helps put it above the mobile space. Speaking of that controller...

"We designed the controller to be a love letter to console gaming. It has everything you've learned to love: fast buttons, triggers, laser-precise analog sticks, a D-Pad – and we've added a touchpad for any games making the trek from mobile or tablet to the TV. It's just the right weight. Everything just works. We call it 'the Stradivarius of controllers,' and we hope developers will be inspired to take gameplay to a new level with it."
 Of course, it's hard to argue when they refuse to show any more than one half of the thing.

"A 360 controller with a touch pad glued on you say? Well, you just haven't seen the other side my friend! It looks like a Bop It Extreme over there."

But what really gives this whole idea some lift, is the fact that this thing will be $99. That could put one of these in every home.

So what will become of this thing? I have no idea. I wanted to hate the idea at first, but it's going to be an interesting experiment. This could be the future of console gaming, or this could be the thing we all laugh at when nothing comes of it.

It could go either way.

UPDATE: While the future is still up in the air for this thing, the present is looking very good. Achieving their 30 day goal in less than 8 hours, the Ouya has broken Kickstarter records.


  1. I'll be interested to see what they do with it, but I'm fearful also that it'll be a plague-ridden market place full of exploits and mobile games.

    We'll see, but at $99... who can resist?

  2. I've seen some pretty fun games on the Droid marketplace, but that's now the Google Play store.

    So will this marketplace be run by Ouya, or Google Play, or... What? Because that could lead to what's put on the marketplace and what isn't. All that talk about how modding is "easy" (which leads to talk of things like Emulation) could be shut down pretty quickly. Could.

    Then again, I just downloaded a SNES emulator on my Droid phone off the Google Play store...

    1. It's my understanding that Ouya will be handling their own business.

  3. I actually think it's a great idea, it just so happens that I'm unlikely to be interested in 99% of the games, personally.