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DigitalNoob Roundtable: Ouya

Posted on July 30, 2012 AT 04:30am

With the project coming to a close within the next week, some of the folks here at DigitalNoob felt it would be a good time to get together and discuss some of our opinions on the popular kickstarter console, Ouya. Is it a coming revolution for the gaming industry or is it nothing more than a flop? While we don’t necessarily have all the answers we are more than willing to speak our minds on this hot issue.

James Waymire: I have mixed feelings for the Ouya. On one hand, it would be good for the market to have another console to give a bit of competition to the big guys. On the other hand, I just don’t see the Ouya as being that console that will give the big dogs a run for their money. Not in its current design. The chipset being used is already way behind current gen consoles. And yes, while I understand that it is meant for a lower price point, it is hard to reconcile buying a $99 console with the graphics and processing power of a mobile phone against a current gen console like the Xbox 360 which I could most likely get for $150-$200 during the holidays, or even cheaper if I want a refurb. When we look at the fact that we will be entering a new holiday season shortly which usually means good bundles and price drops, it makes the $99 price not as enticing for what you get. You also have to look at the fact that the $99 price is only tempting if you don’t already own a current gen console. If they can get some good games for it at launch they may be able to get some momentum going this holiday season though.

Another large deterrent for the Ouya is that we are many years into the current gen systems which means they have a large amount of market saturation currently. There are not very many gamers out there that do not currently have a console already. And if they already have a console with the games they want, the Ouya will need something other than just a low price point to get gamers to purchase it in addition to the consoles they already own. It will need some way to differentiate itself and in terms of ecosystem, popular IPs, etc. We are just around the corner from the next generation of consoles that will be bringing even bigger and faster hardware specs to the table. If the Ouya is going to have any type of longevity as a platform it is going to need to bring out some big benefits. Otherwise I fear it will be a novelty and another company will come along and follow the same type of idea but with better hardware that can compete with the big boys. If that happens the Ouya will just be another flash in the pan of console gaming history.

For my full thoughts and ongoing conversation on the OUYA feel free to check out my full write up here:

Stephen Fournier: First of all, we really need to figure out a better way to name our consoles; Ouya…really? Other than that, this is a wonderful idea that resonates with all the happy optimistic parts of my soul. It’s an open source, hackable, community driven, Android console that is set at a reasonable price point. The fact that every game on the platform is guaranteed to have a demo at the very least is also a big selling point for me. Ouya has all those nice buzz words full of potential that make it really hard for people to keep a clear head.

Unfortunately, we are in the real world so as much as I want the Ouya to kick off I can clearly see what is going to happen to it. It will come out; it will lack the games it needs to make people who haven’t heard of it before buy it. The people who picked it up on Kickstarter will be happy with what they got and will probably make that tight knit community they were promised which will continue to produce the content they want. It will not become a mainstream piece of hardware; it will not upset the balance of Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft; and it most definitely won’t reverse the current trend of gaming moving away from the television.

And yet, despite the negativity I’m throwing around I can’t help but be proud of the 45,000 gamers who backed this project with very little to show. The Ouya is a console and a project with a lot of potential, it could be just what android games need to “kickstart” their quality, making games like Infinity Blade and Republique the rule instead of the exception. Hell, it could even become a place where independent developers can cut their teeth and gain some experience before moving onto other platforms, the point is there is now over five and a half million dollars worth of backing behind the potential this project holds. How many other industries and cultures would be willing to put that much money down on just the potential a project holds to change things.

The answer is very few.

Bryan Todd: It’s really hard to explain how I feel about the Ouya. There are SO many mixed emotions.

On the surface, it seems like a great idea. It strikes me as a console that could shake things up a bit, especially since it’s upgradable. However, having owned an Android phone, I don’t know if I can say that I believe that basing a console on that OS would have desirable results. I’m sure that it could be made into a great experience, but from my time with Android, I’ve found that it’s not exactly the most stable environment. More accurately: The OS itself is quite stable, but as soon as you start adding in the 3rd party apps, that goes straight out the window.

My other issue is that it is, in essence, an Android phone turned into a console system and had the phone bits neutered. The consoles of this era and what’s sure to come are far more powerful than what the Ouya is promising. It’s not to say that massive amounts of processing and graphics power are needed, but to be honest, it’s what’s expected. A lack of overall power could severely limit what can be produced for it. I could see it being more of an ‘entry level’ console for those who prefer casual games or just don’t have the scratch to drop $200+ on a console, then nearly half that much for a single game.

So, as much as I want to see the Ouya succeed, I foresee two possibilities for what may happen.

A repeat of the Wii [a Wii-peat, if you will]: People will flock to it for a while, you’ll hear about it all over the place, it’ll be hard to find because of initial popularity. After a year or two, it’ll become ‘that dusty gadget that never gets played anymore’ and there will be a glut of used consoles.

A new kind of console gaming opens up: Micro-gaming. Even if it doesn’t succeed against such titans as Sony or Microsoft, I do see it becoming a home for casual players and enjoying a spot all its own.

No matter what, though, I want to see something that breaks the mold to make us reconsider what we’re really looking for in a console.

Russ Pirozek: The Ouya is an interesting idea, combining the Android system with console gaming. It’s a risky idea given the current console market, but if done properly, especially for the price point, it could be a good move. With though content, it could be the next steam, a new platform for all types of gamers, at an affordable price.

While the support is promising, the biggest piece of this project taking off is the content. While there have been a few games announced, the number of developers that come on  board will be the major tipping point. if there’s not enough software Support, this innovative project will be for nothing.

This is a bold campaign, and one many gamers should support, at least vocally if not financially. Using kickstarter to gauge interest was a brilliant move, and given the success of Android on mobile platforms, a console is a logical step. This has major potential, and success should be on the way. as long as it gets the support it needs to at least coexist with the major consoles on the market already.

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