One of the more interesting Kickstarter announcements to cross our desks recently came today, for the Ouya (pronounced “OOO-yah”), a video game console based on the Android operating system. Power-wise it doesn’t match the current-gen consoles, but it does embody a number of interesting ideas, which you can read about below. Perhaps most interestingly, in a single day it has already garnered enough support to surpass its Kickstarter goal of close to a million dollars, meaning it should definitely see the light of day.
So what is the Ouya? It’s a game console that will connect to a TV, like a Wii, Xbox 360, or PlayStation 3, but it will be powered by Android, the open-source operating system from Google that runs primarily on phones and tablets. Developing games for the Ouya will be free, and with a much lower barrier of entry than developing for any of the current-gen consoles. They also note that it’s very open to hackers looking to make add-on peripherals. The first Ouya consoles will ship in March 2013.
Even though it’s powered by Android, you’ll control games on the Ouya using a physical controller. The controller will look basically like an Xbox 360 controller, with analog sticks and buttons, but it will also include a touchpad in the middle that will let you swipe or tap to control games–which may or may not prove useful.
Here are the full specs, listed on the Kickstarter page:
Tegra3 quad-core processor
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
As noted above, that’s not very powerful as far as consoles go, but it matches the tech inside the new Google Nexus 7 tablet and the upcoming Microsoft Surface tablet.
One particularly interesting detail is that at least some amount gameplay for every game released for the Ouya has to be free. This means developers can offer a demo for free, with the ability to upgrade to the full game as an in-app purchase. They can offer freemium games, with purchasable power-ups or in-game items. Or they can go the full-on subscription mode, as long as some part of the game is free to download. This is an interesting idea, and it’s likely to win the hearts many young (or just frugal) gamers. The question is, will the Ouya gain widespread adoption, or will it fail like the Nintendo Virtual Boy, the Sega CD, and other DOA game consoles?
The makers of the Ouya asked Kickstarter funders for $950,000, and at the time of this writing they’ve already received well over a million dollars. If you want to help fund the Ouya and/or secure a console for yourself next March, you’ll have to contribute to the Kickstarter campaign by August 9. Plan to spend at least $99 to guarantee yourself a system. For more information, watch the video below and visit their Kickstarter Page.