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Is A $99 Free To Play Console In The Works?

Posted on July 3, 2012 AT 04:07pm

According to a posting that showed up on investor website AngelList, a $99 Android-powered gaming console could currently be in the works—one that would be based around the idea free games and owner hack-ability.

As of this moment, the listing seems to have been pulled down (or hidden), but a Google Cache of the page gives the following product info:

Open, accessible game console for the biggest market in games: TV.

Any developer can publish games, just like mobile or social games today (but like no other console game platform). Orders of magnitude less expensive to develop.

Inexpensive enough for every consumer to buy, $99, and all the games are free to play. Every console is a dev kit; build peripherals, root the system — built to be hacked.

Designed by Yves Behar and fuseproject, creators of Jambox. Built with Android as embedded OS.

The founder and CEO of the company putting together the Ouya is Julie Uhrman (previously of IGN), and supposedly on board already are names like Yves Behar (One Laptop Per Child designer), Ed Fries (co-founder of the Xbox project at Microsoft), Amol Sarva (Peek), and Peter Pham (Color, Photobucket).

I’ve got to be honest—it’s an interesting concept. For the mass market, it’ll be a hard sell, as it’s neither a console from an established company (Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft), nor is it a “disruptive” style of console from the big names that could easily bring us and support such a thing (Valve, Apple).

If—and that’s a huge if—if enough people were willing to embrace the Ouya and develop interesting content for it, that’s when the power of such an idea could start to show. One look at Apple’s iOS app store will show you how much garbage gets out there even when there’s a vetting process, so I can totally imagine this console being overrun with junk. And yet, in all of that junk, there’s often some real gems.

But how is this different than a PC, I hear some of you asking. Well, sure, in some ways it’s not at all. In other ways, though, a simple, easy to set up device that you could attach to the TV and have ready to go offers a platform concept that PC can’t always provide. If I could hook an Ouya to my television, get some interesting gaming on it, and have it provide all of the media functions that I might want, that’d be compelling.

I hate to be pessimistic about the whole idea, but I have to be realistic. If the Ouya even sees the light of day, will it be a success? Probably not, if you’re asking me. Still, I love to see the attempt being made—and I’d love to be proven wrong.

Eric L. Patterson, Executive Editor
Eric L. Patterson got started via self-publishing game-related fanzines in junior high, and now has one goal in life: making sure EGM has as much coverage of niche Japanese games as can realistically be crammed in. Eric’s also active in the gaming community on a personal level, being an outspoken voice on topics such as equality in gaming and consumer rights. Stalk Eric on Twitter: @Eric_EGM. Meet the rest of the crew.

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