A few days ago I wrote about an Android powered home game console called Ouya that was being developed by an all star team and backed by Kickstarter. Literally 48 hours after that article was published, the company behind it (with Kickstarters help) has managed to raise over 4 million dollars, (they only needed 1 million in 30 days) and over 20,000 Ouya consoles have already been sold (I bought one!). Now my ears are certainly open to hearing the opinions of others, but I have noticed that PC World, our friends at Phandroid, Gamasutra, and a few other sites have written some pretty harsh articles about why the new console is a “bad investment”, a “bad idea”, ect. Well, after reading these articles, I felt compelled to say exactly the opposite. As a long time gamer and Android user, I can give you quite a few reasons to ignore the negativity coming from these articles (not to say ALL of their points were invalid), and can also present plenty of reasons why the Ouya console is a damn good idea. Part 1 dissected the “reasons” why many feel it will fail. This article will discuss why the console could potentially be a great idea.
New concept combined with existing concept = new possibilites
The Ouya console could potentially provide more new possibilities than you could throw a stick at. Consumers who enjoy playing Android games on high end devices could take their gaming experience to a new level. People who like casual gaming like Temple Run and refuse to shell out hundreds of dollars for a console (with games that cost 60 bucks a pop) will now have access to a very affordable console with quality graphics, a wide selection of titles, and for little to no cost.
For developers, they now have a chance to reach out more to those consumers. Microsoft and Playstation literally spent millions to create their online gaming marketplace, and the developers of Ouya will naturally have to focus on their own in-console interface, which seems to be coming along very well. Developers who previously could only dream of having the funds to produce a console title now have the chance to do so within a market that’s already extremely successful.
The money needed to successfully market a game like Max Payne 3 or Call of Duty easily surpasses the marketing budget needed to promote a Hollywood blockbuster movie. Developers for Android games and for the Ouya console can rely on already successful marketplaces like Google Play, Amazon, and even 3rd party markets to assist with a big chunk of the marketing costs. Free marketing anyone?
What you’re getting for the price
For 99 dollars, you’re getting a powerful quad core device that can be hacked, rooted, modded, and God knows what else. Does that mean the majority of people will do it? Probably not. But even if the console wouldn’t be a hit, I’m left with a toy that the Android modding community will have a freakin field day with. At the very least, I will be able to play media and great games on my TV, and knowing the power of the dev community, I’d be willing to bet money that they will create ways that I can sync my tablet and phone to this device to make it even more amazing. Netflix, Google Movies, and other streaming services could integrate into a platform like this particularly well.
If I want to play GTA 5, I fire up my Xbox. That won’t change. But if I want to play Final Fantasy III’s new remastered version, or Max Payne for Android (which has much better graphics than the original version) I can fire it up on my Ouya and enjoy a pure console experience. My tablet already acts as a Nintendo, Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis, Gameboy, Gameboy Advance, Sega Game Gear, Nintendo 64, and Playstation 1 thanks to emulators. Now I’ll have the option of adding those consoles to the mix without all the workarounds needed for them to work on my tablet? That’s a really nice option to have.
The challenges the console will have
With all this being said, remember that breaking into the console market is no easy task. Lots of consoles from companies that know the business have failed (Sega CD, Atari Jaguar, Neo Geo, ect), so don’t expect this to be easy. The Ouya team will need to address issues such as gamepad compatibility, online gaming, scaling to high def TV’s, and Android updates. This won’t be an easy task, but it most certainly isn’t an impossible one. Remember...the Xbox and PS3 were by NO MEANS perfect when they were released, and it took time to get the kinks out. For some odd reason, people are acting like Ouya will have to be flawless from the outset to have a chance at sucess, which simply isn’t realistic. If that were the case, Android would never exist at the level it does today. Ouya will simply need to improve and evolve to meet consumer demand, and with the competant team backing it, believe me when I say that many of them have already "been there and done that" successfully.
The Ouya console is a great idea that’s booming with potential. Sure it could fail. Any new product can fail if the public isn’t ready for it and if its presentation (hardware, software, marketing, ect) isn't properly executed . But with it’s great hardware, the reputable team backing it, and the growing list of amazing Android titles, do people honestly believe the company will release a console that can’t even utilize a gamepad? Really? With over 4 million dollars in funding and 20,000 consoles sold (the Xbox360 sold 320,000 consoles in its first week), I think that this competent team (including Microsoft's ex Vice President who basically got the original Xbox off the ground) will be a bit smarter than that.
And even if the console would not be an overnight hit, fans of modding and rooting (like myself) will still have a hell of a toy to play with. For 99 dollars, powerful hardware, and a huge selection of games that range from free to 10 dollars, I’m more than willing/very eager to take the risk on this very innovating concept.
Picture credits: Kickstarter