You probably heard it already. An US-based (LA) company began a fund-raising campaign on Kickstarter with a goal of collecting $950,000 to transform its project from the prototype to a product. By today, pledges are totaling about $4.5 million and it's still raising.
I think it's big and I pledged ordering one. Then I started reading all the comments, reactions and articles. While most of them were very positive, there are few predicting failures or pointing out this is just a better Raspsberry PI with a controller.
Yes, it is. But there's more. Much more.
Game console market is quite specific. Game developers are able to produce high quality titles optimized for specific hardware. Heard of Halo, Forza, Killzone, Wii Sports, inFamous or Gran Tourismo? They are all exclusive bringing the best experience for console players.
Having said that, mobile market is fragmented. And that's not just Android market, but iOS devices too. Thus, most successful games have to cover all those devices. Developers can't get the best from each device.
There are two extremes. Consoles are not tablets and vice versa. Archaic console internet browsers are like kid toys when compared to those from mobile devices. Users beg for improvement, but console vendors are not interested in updating those becase, belive me or not, they want users to buy games, play games and buy more games. Browsing on Facebook is not what they want. Mobile vendors want to see users buying devices every year perhaps, purchasing content from their stores. Apps, books, movies, music and many, preferably smaller, games. Serious players are minority, they think. Well, that's wrong.
Project OUYA aims to consolidate this market a bit giving developers chance to publish their Google Play and App Store games also on OUYA market, or whatever this will be called. If they optimize those games for OUYA platform, there is a great chance of bringing better experience to console players. By the way those players are willing to pay more not only for exclusive content compared to mobile or PC gaming market.
It turns out there are many players literally waiting for such a device. They love those "finger" games and they find "bigger" games like Shadowgun, Modern Combat or N.O.V.A. way too complicated to play on touchscreen devices. They need something. They need a gamepad. They need a gamepad-ready games. And OUYA has the potential to give them both.
Yes, one can take an Android device and somehow connect a controller to it. But games are not ready. Only very few support gamepads, there are many problems with compatibility and one must often "crack" the device to control game without gamepad support. And it is complicated proces. There is nothing easier than turning on a console while settling in the couch. I find OUYA attractive even when I own two consoles, tablet and some android phones. (Obviously, I am a geek :-)
Why most Android games do not support gamepads even when there is (quite limited) API in the recent versions of the system? Because games are, for some strange reason, not priority of Google and Apple folks. People are thrilled to get some kind of standard gamepad on Google TV, Apple TV or whatever. Maybe Google and Apple just don't want to ruffle console vendors, maybe they are simply blind.
If there is a standard gamepad and a device, it makes sense for developers to create rich experience games. And this is exactly the gap OUYA is aiming for. It does not matter if the device will have Tegra 3 or 4, 1 gig of RAM or two gigs. The thing is to create something with a good gamepad and let companies to roll out some decent games. Console market is *huge* and timing is ideal - from the hardware perspective, PS3 and XBox 360 have nothing to offer. Motion sensitive controllers just posponed the Grim Reaper visit. And gamers will be recruited also from the mobile market.
If there is no gaming standard on the Android market, there are no good games. Since Google and Apple are ignoring the fact, someone else must do the work.
Being a Red Hatter, I do also like openness of the whole concept. It just seems to be natural for me. Arguments that "big" game vendors will just ignore OUYA platform to be "insecure" is wrong. Our company crossed one billion dollars in revenues this year. And the concept is simple - pure opennes and transparency while delivering the very best products and services.
Platform OUYA will most likely succeed. By success I mean bringing the product on the market in time. Selling at least five million units the very first year is my wish. The only threat is not to let anyone else to jump the queue, including Google and Apple. Time's ticking.
And OUYA is a signal, at least. We want this. We are here, ready to pay. For hardware. For games.
It's the players, who will make the final verdict. Not reporters.