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Ouya: My Initial Thoughts

By
Posted on July 26, 2012 AT 09:31am

OUYA Controller

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 issue will be platform exclusives. Just having exclusives is not enough; you need to have AAA development studios on board to provide you with platform exclusive titles that gamers actually want. I see the Ouya as being flooded with shovelware and mobile game ports from the Android phone ecosystem. If it does get AAA titles that are not exclusives, they will have to compete with the same titles on the other platforms which have established online communities and systems like achievements, and the like, that many gamers do not want to move away from as they already have a great deal of time and money invested in.

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.

Here are the pros and cons as I see them:

Pros:

Open source platform

  • Low bar for entry for smaller development shops
  • Less cost to develop for as it is a known and well used platform in the mobile world

Existing Games

  • Many mobile games written for Android devices should be fairly easy to port over

Price Point

  • $99 is definitely a nice price for a console
  • All games required to have some type of free offering (Demos, etc…)

Apps

  • Since it is running Android porting over apps should not be too hard

 

Cons:

Chipset

  • The chipset is aging and is not up to par with current gen consoles
  • Moving to a more powerful or current chipset would kill the chance of hitting the $99 target

Ecosystem

  • While there are many mobile games that should be trivial to port, there are not many AAA titles that will run anywhere near as well as they do on the current gen consoles
  • People do not want to buy a console just to play the games they already have on their phones

Console Exclusives

  • It will be hard to find AAA exclusive titles for the console. Most developers get good monetary compensation from the big platforms to remain console exclusive.
  • If the games are not console exclusive, the Ouya will be at a disadvantage to compete with the better looking, smoother running versions of the same games on the other consoles

Infrastructure

  • Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo all have large online networks dedicated to their consoles that offer a large amount of social, multiplayer and entertainment options. Players have spent a lot of time and money on their platform of choice. The Ouya will need to have something pretty special in order to compete.
  • If you already have a console, the Ouya is just $99 more dollars to play ports of your phone games which you have to purchase again, and will still most likely not look as good as the versions made for the big consoles.

I just can’t get excited about this console though I really want to. My cell phone gets me more functionality and can also be hooked to a T.V. using HDMI. The only thing missing is a controller. I don’t want to pay $99 for a controller for my phone, while removing the screen, phone capabilities, and other things. I just can’t see yet how the Ouya can stand out from the current gen consoles. An open source Android based console sounds great, but I haven’t seen anything yet that makes it worth the money for gamers who already have a current gen console. By the time the next gen consoles ship in a year or so, it will be even further behind. I truly hope that the team working on the Ouya project has some magic hidden up their sleeve as I think competition is good for everyone and the big three have been comfortable in their roles for a bit too long. So please prove me wrong, I want you to succeed, just show me the magic! Prove to me that we aren’t more in love with the idea of the platform than we will be with the actual product that ships… If the console can gain solid support from some of the larger developers, it will have a much better chance of succeeding. Robert Bowlings new venture has already stated they will be bringing a console exclusive to the Ouya. If that type of support continues from other developers, the Ouya may have a real chance. For now we can only watch, wait and hope.



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