Most of the world’s gamers would have heard of Ouya by now – the $99 console built on Google’s Android operating system – which raised $8 million via crowdsourcing website Kickstarter. The company recently announced the distribution of the first batch of it’s portable and “open” consoles.
Naysayers at first were highly convinced the concept would be absorbed by the likes of Microsoft, Apple, Nintendo and Sony. It’s still a possibility, but I’m certain that it won’t. Julie Uhrman, founder of Ouya, has decades of experience in commercial gaming and has built a team of industry experts to build her vision of a cheap, open and beautiful console that will radically change console gaming.
Ouya isn’t a traditional game console. It’s something new. Microsoft and Sony both charge pompous amounts of money to build on their consoles. Ouya is primarily solving that problem, and when you solve that, consumers also win. Developers want freedom, and consumers just want good games that aren’t buggy.
It’s also a platform that could make lots of money. Ouya is actively encouraging a “free trial” basis for all of the games, to allow people to pay for games only they like it. It isn’t something harmful to try, and I rather like that as a developer. Who knows, it could be the tipping point for Ouya’s ecosystem success. That’s really why I backed it. It’s mixing the ecosystem value of Apple iOS and the affordability of Raspberry Pi and Arduino, which have been responsible for inspiring new ideas.
To be fair, I’m not certain that being totally open is right. It means building a non-pirate, safe commerce on top of Ouya will be really difficult. That will really put off gaming giants such as EA, Konami and Hasbro from building on Ouya. But maybe that’s not where they’re looking to go. But the Internet has taught the wider society to pirate, and the global economic crisis hasn’t done this matter any good. Being closed means you’re opening up commercial opportunities. Ouya isn’t doing that. That worries me about their longevity.
But, to witness the possibility for £61, is something really exciting.
Image: Flickr Creative Commons – Faseextra