Learn All About Ouya, The $99 Games Console

ouya hardware small   Learn All About Ouya, The $99 Games ConsoleYou wait years for a new games console to come along, and then several come along all at once. Who would have thought games consoles and buses had so much in common. Hot on the heels of the PS4 and Xbox One being revealed at E3 2013, and Matt Smith and I arguing about the merits of both systems, Ouya has been launched in retail outlets.

The Ouya console isn’t a direct competitor to the Playstation 4 or Xbox One, or, for that matter, the Wii U. It is a games console nonetheless, and one that, thanks to its low price point, could prove very popular. From humble beginnings on Kickstarter, through controversy, and on to selling out at Amazon, Ouya is an interesting piece of hardware, which we are about to dissect for the betterment of the MakeUseOf readership.

The Pitch

ouya kickstarter page   Learn All About Ouya, The $99 Games Console

The Ouya console was promised to be a machine designed to disrupt the games industry, proving people are capable of looking past the big-name manufacturers and embracing something different. An open-source, Android-powered games console for the living room. And it was a message that got through to thousands of people.

Ouya arrived on Kickstarter in July 2012, with a goal of $950,000. By the end of the first day the project had surpassed that goal, and ended up sailing on to amass a whopping $8.5 million. A total of 63,000 people pledged money to make this hardware a reality, with most of those pledging enough to pre-order an Ouya console.

The Launch

ouya homepage   Learn All About Ouya, The $99 Games Console

Ouya was originally slated for a December 2012 release to the earliest Kickstarter backers, but this slipped into the early months of 2013. Then trouble arrived as backers reported not receiving their consoles as expected. Some people who pledged money a full year ago still haven’t received their Ouya.

In the meantime the Ouya console enjoyed a retail release to selected partners in selected countries at the end of June. And now anyone in one of those countries can head out and buy an Ouya off the shelf for the same price paid by the majority of Kickstarter backers. This has caused much bad blood and is a situation that remains unresolved at the time of writing.

The Hardware

ouya games console controller   Learn All About Ouya, The $99 Games Console

So, what do you get for your $99?

A small, square, silver cube designed by Yves Behar running its own version of Android. It boasts an NVIDIA Tegra 3 quad-core processor, 1GB of RAM, and 8GB of internal flash storage that can be expanded by USB port. Of which there are two, one USB 2.0, and one micro USB. You also get an HDMI port, an ethernet port, and WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity.

One controller comes with the console as standard, and it’s a decent stab at a controller that looks like a cross between the Xbox 360 and PS4 controllers. There are two analog sticks, a D-pad, eight action buttons, and a touchpad. The controller is powered by two AA batteries, and additional controllers are available for $50.

The Games

ouya games menu   Learn All About Ouya, The $99 Games Console

The number of games available on the Ouya platform is growing every day, but the quality of the titles on offer varies wildly thanks to the decision to let just about anyone, and everyone build and publish games for the system. Thankfully all games are free to try (at least), so you should be able to avoid spending money on any duds.

What you won’t get are visually arresting games on a par with current consoles. What you will get are Android-like indie games that look surprisingly good played in glorious HD on a big television.

The video below shows a handful of the launch titles being played.

The Extras

If you’re not convinced of the worthiness of the Ouya console from what you’ve seen so far, don’t worry, as the console is thankfully capable of more. The open-source, hackable nature of Ouya means there are some extras of offer to those willing to tinker with the device just a little.

It’s possible to install emulators for all of the big retro consoles on your Ouya. It’s then simply a case of acquiring ROMs of your favorite games online (legally, of course) and side-loading them onto the system. This may not offer as smooth or as stress-free an experience as playing a physical copy of the games on a real console, but unless your name is Dave LeClair it will work well enough to sate your appetite for nostalgic button-mashing.

It’s also possible to install a media center such as XBMC or Plex onto your Ouya. Doing so turns this innocuous little silver box into a powerful tool for delivering all kinds of content to your living room. It’s at this point that the MakeUseOf guide to XBMC could prove invaluable.

Conclusions

Although this is far from a full review, I will say that Ouya isn’t for everyone. For a full review, keep your eyes on MakeUseOf, because we are reviewing and giving an Ouya away this month!

Don’t buy an Ouya console in place of a gaming rig or next-gen console, as it won’t scratch that itch you have for the latest and greatest games. However, if you’re into indie games or retro games then Ouya offers a new way to play these kinds of titles. And with a little bit of effort it can be used in other, less-traditional ways.

What do you think of Ouya? Were you one of the 60,000+ people who backed the console on Kickstarter? Or is this the first you have heard of Ouya? Do you think $99 is a fair price for such a piece of hardware? And do you hope this gem disrupts the gaming industry in the way its creators hoped it would? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

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13 Comments -

likefunbutnot

I’m more in love with the IDEA of an inexpensive Android-based gaming console than with the actual implementation. What I really love is the possibility represented by what’s really pretty modest hardware and the utility of that device not just for gaming but for whatever other Living Room-centric applications it might find. I’m not much of a gamer and I genuinely dislike gamepads, but given the huge variety of inexpensive or free Android gaming options, the chance that someone would not be able to find SOMETHING appealing to play on an Ouya seems very low to me.

Likewise, I use a Pivos Xios DS in my back bedroom as an XBMC/Plex client. I have 90% of the functionality of a home theater PC, as the Ouya might compare to a Nintendo Wii or suchlike, but with a box that cost a fraction as much, makes no noise at all and for which I can find an almost identical range of applications to meet my needs. Having taken the trip from set top box to set top box, it’s amazing how far we’ve come in so little time, especially on an essentially open and hackable platform.

Dave P

I tend to agree with you. The Ouya is far from perfect but it shows what could be done in the future. I’m waiting for the forthcoming MakeUseOf review before actually buying one of these.

whatev

I’m waiting for Google to release their rendition of an Android gaming console. The Nexus G or something lol

Yannis Vatis

I’m more than willing to be wrong about this but I don’t think the Ouya has the appeal that people are looking for in a gaming console. It’s not that it doesn’t have potential. On the contrary it has plenty and therein lies the problem: it’s at an infant stage where there are a few gems hidden amongst the duds in its game library.

I think they should have launched when there were really solid titles made by both indie and big name developers.

Android at the moment – from a consumer standpoint – is viewed as a mobile platform and most games are made for smartphones that run the OS.

The fact also that it’s not out to compete with PS4 and Xbone makes things more puzzling: what share of the market does this product fulfil? Sony is making plans to be as open to independent developers as possible so we are going to see more games that are cheap and fun on the PS4. Keeping these in mind, I’m curious to hear from anyone who is interested in buying or has bought the Ouya and why decide on buying it.

Dave P

It’s not meant to compete directly with the big boys. In fact, I suspect the majority of people who buy an Ouya already own at least one of the more powerful consoles.

Sony is doing great in tempting the indie developers across to its platform, and that’s an exciting prospect for the PS4.

lache claude

ouya is a step in the world of creativity, hurah!!

Rudi N

I think the OUYA should also have infrared and a remote TV remote-like controller should be included as well… because in reality it cannot compete with current gaming consoles (mainly because I think that the casual games found on Android are much more convenient on an Android phone or tablet) but it could make an excellent substitute for a “set top box” or home entertainment centre type thing. Until Android gaming levels with modern day consoles and PCs (even though the likes of Real Racing, Batman and more already are on such a level) the hassle of having to sit down, turn on the TV, grab a controller and play a game is outweighed by the fact that you can have that same game on your Nexus device and play it wherever, whenever. I already have an Xbox 360 and octo-core gaming PC rigged up to my TV, and literally all I’m missing is a decent entertainment centre (the idea of an Android style YouTube app on the TV is a good start), because Windows Media centre only does so much and the Xbox is sluggish in that respect.

Rudi N

Apologies for my poor grammar in the first sentence, used the word ‘remote’ a few too many times.

likefunbutnot

As I said above, I’m not a console gamer, but the Xbox and PS3 are both god-awful for anything that is not immediately related to game playing. Youtube is bad. Netflix is bad. But people use their game consoles as set top boxes now in spite of how awful that experience is.

The Ouya misses out for having a less than ideal gaming experience, but I’ve observed that just about every parent or grandparent with a smartphone has to regularly surrender their device to kids who want to play the sorts of games that are on a smartphone. Clearly those kids aren’t worried about looking through mounds of titles to find something they want to play.

So the appeal is that this is a tiny, cheap box with cheap but acceptable games and (I think) an open and vastly better non-gaming STB experience. I think that has a lot of value; I know that I’d vastly rather use Youtube as it’s presented on my phones and tablets than the awful way it shows up on an Xbox.

I can also see this as “the console that gets plugged in at grandma’s house” or “the console that stays in the kids’ bedroom” as opposed to the fancy console that gets plugged in to the TV in the living room. The world has room for both.

Dave P

I agree, I think there is room for both types of device. Ouya is trying to disrupt the industry, but I don’t think its creators ever thought they would topple the likes of Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo. Perhaps in the future they will, and you have to start somewhere!

Dave P

It sounds like this isn’t for you then. I would assume you already knwo your way around emulators and ROMs too, so even that side of things won’t hold much appeal.

Rudi N

Correct. I did try out for a few months one of those ‘made in China’ handheld Android games consoles (looks like a PSP) which had a bunch of emulators pre-installed, which was all good fun. But now that’s made way for my Nexus, combined with a USB-ified SNES gamepad.

RandwulfX

Why does this remind me of when the NeoGeo X Gold system came out? Software based emulation? For retro gaming, I’ll stick with my consoles.