A Real Android Home Console Is On Its Way

On July 10th a little known company launched their Kickstarter project with a view to raising $950,000 towards their Nvidia Tegra 3 Android Home Console, named Ouya. The following 24 hours took everybody by surprise as it was announced that their goal had been smashed and $2,850,000 had been pledged towards their project. As of writing, the fund continues to rise and well over $4,500,000 has been pledged. What does this tell you? Well for starters, Kickstarter is proving to be an excellent way of getting solid fledgling projects off the ground, and secondly – a tonne of people are very interested in an Android home console. Especially when it’s promised to cost only $99.

Android has a huge and loyal user base, it’s versatile, it has a lot of very polished software available (including some great emulators) and anyone can develop software for it. But up until now gaming on Android devices has really been limited to the handheld market. Sure, many handhelds support controllers and have TV output but it’s not quite the same as having a dedicated system sat behind your TV, ever ready to entertain. This is the niche that Ouya is hoping to fill, I guess.

The machine will run a customised version of Android 4.0 and all its dedicated games will be free to play to some extent. The $99 price point indicates that they’re probably hoping to become profitable from game sales, perhaps in a similar way to the Amazon Kindle business model. The device will come with 1 wireless controller but will support at least 2 and the O/S source will be available for developers to do what they want with. Finally.

let’s hope there are some shoulder buttons on the back of this thing 🙂

The machine is slated for a March 2013 release but those of you who pre-ordered are supposedly going to be getting yours a lot sooner. I should be really excited about this thing, and it does look cool, but for some reason that I can’t put my finger on I’m just not very enthusiastic about it yet. It’s perhaps because I like a bit of mystery, and I’m used to seeing these obscure Chinese machines shrouded in the stuff… that and the garish, trendy promotional video makes me feel a little bit sick. The pitch makes it sound like it’s trying to take on the big three, but I hope that if the machine is a success it won’t be because it defeats the giants – it’ll be because of a committed, talented and enthusiastic niche that propel it to become as fundamental in the home console scene as the hacked XBOX1 was in its day. But maybe that’s just me.

11 Replies to “A Real Android Home Console Is On Its Way”

  1. I still don’t know where the name OUYA comes from. Is there some language in which OUYA is a word, and if so, what does it mean? Or is it an acronym, since it’s always spelled in ALL CAPS?

    1. Ouya – it’s like a Marine battlecry. It does have meaning in a couple of languages, but that was discovered by the team after they had named it.

      I think the all caps thing is just a style choice, (think iPod or eBay) plus since they put the letters on the controller, it makes sense.

  2. what are you complaining about, if it’s protected, it might be sold at chainshops, walmart, ect. and it might run xbmc out of the box. XBMC, At your local WalMart. wouldnt that be cool!?

  3. So, despite my misgivings, I’ve ordered one. I guess I’ll let you know next year if it’s any good. :$

  4. If I can use tons of emulators and pack this little cube with roms then yeah I’ll buy one for 99 bucks but If it’s going to be filled with crappy homebrew games or if it ends up like the gamegadget then forget it. I’m going to wait and see what happens

    1. I should have just said what you said, I agree 100%.

      1. Ahh spot on about this news, I had a feeling you’d be posting something about it!

        I’ve been following this story and I still don’t understand it’s concept very well.. I mean, take as an example the multimedia android boxes.. I have one and I can pack it with roms and emulators (apart from having google market at my disposal). I even have a remote small keyboard. Only thing annoying it’s its low resolution. Besides this, it only lacks a control pad to be more of a console. What’s the leap from these multimedia android boxes to OUYA?

  5. I’m not 100% convinced either. The thing is – it’s says it’s “Based on Android” and an “Open Console” – but it’s not. Not exactly.

    From their FAQ – “We can support any apps built for Android. We’ll be launching with Twitch.TV and can’t wait for more partners. If you have an Android app you’d like to see on OUYA, let us know at devs@ouya.tv.”

    Did you see that? “We /CAN/ support… an Android app you’d like to see on OUYA…” if it’s Android – why won’t it support ALL Android apps out of the box? Why would I need to tell them I want a certain app on there? Because it’s NOT ANDROID.

    It’s */ BASED ON /* Android – much like a TiVo is / based on / Linux. That doesn’t mean you can fire up Firefox and AbiWord on your TiVo. They are just using a free open-source base for their device.

    Now – they do say that you can root it and not void your warranty. But there’s nothing saying that “rooting” it would actually give you a full-fledged Android experience.

    If it does – then obviously having a high-quality Android set-top box with access to all the Android apps and a good controller would be awesome. That means all the emulators would work, too – if it is TRULY open and TRULY Android.

    Media players – streaming media services (Hulu / Netflix / Amazon / Vudu / YouTube / Last.fm / Pandora) – a full HTML 5 & Flash-enabled Web browser with BlueTooth and/or USB keyboard support? YES! To all of the above.

    But if it is just a locked-down, DRM’ed, hobbled version of Android – no thank you.

    1. Man, I missed that very important bit of info at the top of your post. That sucks, and probably means they won’t give away the source for their proprietary bits of the OS.

      1. Well, they keep claiming it’s all “open” – but they haven’t even been very “open” about what the controller even looks like at this point.

        It’s got a lot of potential – but a lot of potential for awesome, and a lot of potential for suckage as well.

        Sorry about the basic double post – I wasn’t sure the first one went through.

  6. Here’s the problem. It’s “Based on Android” – but it’s /not/ Android.

    From the FAQ – “We can support any apps built for Android. We’ll be launching with Twitch.TV and can’t wait for more partners. If you have an Android app you’d like to see on OUYA, let us know at devs@ouya.tv.”

    Did you catch that – “…we can support any apps… an Android App you’d like to see on the OUYA…” Meaning you won’t just be able to install whatever Android apps you want. Therefore – it is NOT Android.

    It’s much like TiVo is “based on Linux” – but you can’t install Firefox on it or anything. It’s just using that as the base code.

    IF they were building a TRUE Android Set Top Box / Console with the gaming “environment” or whatever – that would be one thing. But it’s not that. It is a console that just so happens to use Android for part of its code.

    There are existing Android boxes built for the TV that are a lot more versatile that this. Some of which you’ve mentioned on this site. The only thing this Ouya has going for it is that (a) more Americans / Westerners know about it / it is more “mainstream” (b) it may get some developers excited about the system, and therefore more games that would be playable by a game controller instead of the touchscreen.

    However – I really really really really really wish they hadn’t have locked it up like this. They say it’s “open” and that you can root it and not void your warranty – but I am not so sure “rooting” it will give you a full-fledged Android experience. If it does – then AWESOME. If not, then Meh. I already have an OnLive system – and an Android tablet with HDMI-out.

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