Thursday, July 12, 2012

Shatterblog!: The OUYA Revolution!

As many of you probably know, Kickstarter is a wonderful site where artists, musicians, game developers, or anyone else can create fundraisers for their projects. Kickstarter hit the news when Double Fine games used it to crowdsource the money to develop an old-school adventure game. 
A few days ago, a Kickstarter began for a product called OUYA. OUYA is an Android based, completely hackable console. It will allow indie developers to publish easily onto it, and due to the console's open nature, no expensive development kit will be needed for purchase. The Kickstarter had a funding goal of $950 thousand in one month. As I sit here, writing this, with 27 days remaining this project has already racked up over $4 MILLION. It has set several records in rapidness of funding, and will have big ripples on the gaming world regardless of what happens next. 

I have seen some positive and negative comments about the OUYA, and I decided to put my two-cents in, as well as give you, our viewers, an idea of this huge event. 
Let me start by talking about the OUYA's specs, which I will pull directly from its Kickstarter page (you will find a link to that of course, at the bottom). 
  • Tegra3 quad-core processor 
  • 1GB RAM 
  • 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 
  • Android 4.0 
Let's look at those for a second. The processor, while designed for mobile devices and not hardcore gaming, is impressive. 1GB of RAM and 8GB of storage are fairly impressive, although a larger hard drive wouldn't go amiss. However, considering the size of most mobile friendly games, it will be adequate. HDMI/1080p support is phenomenal, and while it can't compete with the Xbox or PS3 graphically, the OUYA won't look ugly on screen. The controller is perhaps the best part. It looks like an Xbox controller... with a touchpad in the middle! While many groan at the WiiU's touchpad, I think this one will be spectacular. The transition from mobile-Android title to OUYA-Android title will be made much easier and more fun by the use of a small touchpad in the controller. 
Just look at it. The picture isn't the best (it's the only one out there right now basically), but it looks comfortable. The touch screen is small enough that the controller isn't big and absurd (looking at you WiiU) but large enough to be functional. The overall look and feel is very similar to an Xbox controller, which in this blogger/gamer's humble opinion is vastly superior to the PS3. 
But you're a gamer! You already have a console. What can this give you that an Xbox/PS3/Wii can't? For one, its only $99. That's quite a bit less than other current gen consoles, even cheaper than the family/budget friendly Wii. And OUYA requires ALL GAMES to have some free content. It could be a demo, or the whole game supported by microtransactions like League of Legends or DCUO. Our very own Peter of the SteamWorks recently spoke out against free-to-play games, however I think this is a very different case. Even as a passionate gamer, I have to say the market is getting absurd. Every new release priced at $60 seems a bit steep to me. While I understand development team sizes have gone up, overhead costs have increased, and competition is fierce, I hate shelling out so much for every single new release. While that is a whole separate issue I won't try to tackle here, just think about this. Asura's Wrath has a 5-6 hour campaign. Arkham City has an over-40-hour campaign. Why should they be equally priced? Allowing gamers to demo all games, as well as the inherent inexpensiveness (any developer with the console has all the tools they need to publish. No expensive dev kit. No greedy corporation publishing like EA). 
A developer I happen to like has spoken out against the OUYA as naive. As an open and hackable console, piracy will be far from challenging. This will of course make some developers leery of putting time, effort, and funds into a game anyone can steal easily. However, as the Kickstarter has shown, gamers want this console to exist. They support the idea of it. I tend not to see the good in people, but I think many users, myself included, won't pirate simply because it will screw them later on. If piracy reaches absurd levels, new games will happen less often. Less developers will get on board. Who would want that?
I am very adamantly against the increasing transition from home consoles to "bite-sized" mobile games like Angry Birds. I believe both have a place, but the speculation that consoles are dying gets me angry. While the biggest boost to consoles will certainly be the next generation, I think the OUYA fills a real gap in the industry. I fully intend to follow its development and will most likely be pledging the $99 to get one. If you want to know more about OUYA, or if you're sold on it and want to pledge money now, check out their Kickstarter.

4 comments:

  1. Hey, guys, know what's a great idea? In this dying video game industry, where we're a gaming console speaking out against mobile gaming taking over the industry, it'd be a great idea to put mobile gaming hardware onto a console and allow people to play mobile games NOT ON THEIR PHONES, thus promoting/advertising an industry we claim to be against.

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  2. Everyone really seems to struggle with the concept that while phone ports will be some of the games, they are investing money in getting developers to make brand new titles specifically for the OUYA. THe other thing everyone is incapable of understanding is that not all games are F2P, so they aren't all going to be Pay to win garbage like everyone on /v/ says. Every game is required to have a free element, which will mostly mean a demo. Every game SHOULD have a demo!

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  3. I said nothing about the games being pay to win, only that they're phone ports to a console..

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  4. i just want it for emulators. if it gets either ps2/gamecube, i'm gonna buy it.

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