Spotlight on Ouya
Ouya and the independent game scene
The summer of 2013 will bring us all something that we haven’t seen in a while: the breakout of a new game console to compete against the big three that have ruled the console market for years now. Ouya, the difficult to pronounce new hardware contender, is centered on bringing gaming back to the television and the living room. Ouya is the brainchild of game industry vet Julie Uhrman who put together the most successful Kickstarter campaign the online pledge system has ever seen. With an initial goal of $950,000.00 to get the development process moving, we all got to watch in amazement as they raised almost ten times that goal in a very short time. While gaming innovations over the last five years have almost always been geared toward the exponentially expanding mobile market, Ouya seems to take the best creativity we have seen in that realm and put it back on the living room television where it can be enjoyed by the massive demographic that is the hardcore console gamer. Based on what we have seen out of Ouya so far, this will be a wonderful platform for the independent game scene and many of us are excited to see how its release will reverberate throughout the entire industry.
With a recently announced retail launch date of June 4th, 2013 many Kickstarter backers and development studios began to receive their brand-spankin’ new Ouya consoles during the last week of March and into April, 2013. There are quite a few hardware reviews and “first impression” articles out there to check out if you are interested. Some familiar names from the indie scene are amongst those that have backed the project since day one; Notch and Mojang studios are on board, Canabalt developer Semi Secret Software have their flagship title already included in the game lineup, and other major players such as Brian Fargo of Interplay and Robert Bowling of Robotoki are all providing the needed support to make this indie console a reality. Indie smash hits such as Minecraft, Canabalt, and Terraria’s spiritual successor Starbound currently in development by Chucklefish in the UK will all be part of the Ouya experience. I already have a small spot cleared off my desk next to my monitor that would be perfect for the tiny console.
In tune with what today’s console gamers expect with their purchase of a game console as an all-around media machine, games are not the only interactivity the Ouya will offer. Twitch TV, a network/community of broadcast gameplay and tournament coverage, is already included on the console as a native app. Iheartradio is proudly wearing the badge of the first confirmed radio app for the new console and hopefully we will see the likes of Hulu, Netflix, and even Facebook available on Ouya in the future. While this plethora of games and apps put together in one piece of technology sounds suspiciously like every other game console on the market, there is an underlying independent spirit and philosophy behind the development and eventual release of this platform. The complete development tools are available with the purchase of each console and the ability to get your game published on Ouya is going to be drastically easier than other platforms that allow the same avenues. The Ouya homepage even boasts that you will not void your warranty by tinkering with the hardware itself and they even express interest in seeing what hardware mods are created by the users. For us console gamers, it has been a long time since we have seen a company truly embrace what the user community is capable of and the nod in our direction is much appreciated. It is the reason that I will be preordering this great console to be a part of this experience. Directly from the Ouya website, “The revolution will be televised!”