So, I realize that I have been out of things for a week or so (blame my husband who has weird human urges to visit the people that spawned him) so I just wanted to start off with a hello! I’m happy to be back! Thanks to everyone who visited my site while I was gone, and for all the views I got yesterday when I announced that I was back. Who says the internet can’t occasionally be a welcoming place?
So today I’ll be writing about the upcoming new console system: the Ouya.
This system has been completely kickstarter driven (similar to the Rift which looks like another very interesting addition to the gaming world) and the Kickstarter closed last week, so anyone who wanted an awesome bronze Ouya instead of the normal grey metal one: suck it! If you couldn’t tell from that last statement, or the title of this article, I am one of the 63,416 backers of the Ouya. I opted for the limited edition brown brushed Ouya, because at the time I decided since the regular console only cost $99, I might as well shell out an extra $40 to make myself feel special, while still spending far less than the initial prices of the Xbox 360 or Playstation 3 when they were the new consoles on the block. My husband paid $500 for his PS3 when it first came out, and I’m only spending $140 – seems like a good deal to me! So besides just cheap, what is the Ouya? Luckily there’s an awesome video that pretty much explains it:
- Tegra3 quad-core processor
- 1GB RAM
- 8GB of internal flash storage
- HDMI connection to the TV, with support for up to 1080p HD
- WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
- Bluetooth LE 4.0
- USB 2.0 (one)
- Wireless controller with standard controls (two analog sticks, d-pad, eight action buttons, a system button), a touchpad
- Android 4.0
- ETHERNET! (Announced by Muffi 7/18)
The Ouya is a console, built on Android, that can hook up to your tv. So all those fun Android games that you get to play because you have a sweet phone and an expensive data plan, I will get to play (in March) for much cheaper. In addition to just hosting Android games, Ouya has teamed up with several big companies like OnLive, TuneIn, XMBC, Square Enix and Namco Bandai to bring music, tv, and some awesome launch-title games to the system. I’m personally super excited to be able to watch League of Legends matches on my tv. Ever since we got our desktop its own monitor, I’ve missed being able to watch/play League on a 40 inch screen. With all that going for it, I decided that it was at least worth it to spend a chunk of money to test it out next March.
While I am super excited about it my concerns for the Ouya are its android origins. Will playing android games on a huge tv be fun? The pacing of many phone games is such that they they can be played on the go, in brief moments of free time, and not necessarily for extended periods of time because hey, that would drain your battery pretty quickly. I’m wondering how well Android game-developers will be able to work out a new sort of pacing for the Ouya. While the thought of playing Temple Run on a big tv initially excites me, I can see games like that getting stale after five minutes. It’s fun when you’re on the go and only have a few minutes to spare, but when you sit down for your weekend fun time, will you really want to boot up a game like that? Of course, there are android games out already that call for a different type of pacing than Temple Run and throwing all phone games into the category of fast and fluffy is unfair, but I am concerned about whether or not the games offered on the Ouya will be able to hold my attention. That is, after I spend many hours of my life playing FFIII.
My second concern about the Ouya is the whole “Free-to-Play” model. All games in the Ouya store are supposed to have some free-to-play function. If you’ve played any games on facebook recently you’ll realize that yes, free games are fun, but no, they’re not *really* free and they’re designed to frustrate you into buying something! I’ve been playing Outernauts (don’t judge me, I’ll play anything slightly resembling Pokemon) on Facebook recently, and I run out of “energy” after about 15 minutes of playing and then I have to quit. This drives me insane because I just want to sit and mindlessly kill time for a couple hours, but I can’t because I’m stingy with my money. I think free-to-play games like League of Legends or TF2 have developed a model where people can enjoy the games without feeling pressure to buy skins or hats, but I am worried that we’ll see more games like Outernauts where the free-to-play model severely limits gameplay rather than the League of Legends/TF2 model where buying things is just fun and silly (but still clearly makes a lot of money). However, since the Ouya is “hackable” we may see a lot of completely free and bizarre new games too, but it’s still too soon to tell.
My third concern is that the Ouya is where gaming is going to be in the future, but perhaps we’re not ready for it *right* *now*. It does appear as if software rather than hardware is becoming important in gaming. Most new releases are offered in physical disc form but also in software only form. The Nintendo 3ds store offers many fun, downlodable games, and I think I buy more games from PSN than from my local GameStop. The Ouya is trying to circumvent big name developers by making their console free to develop on, as long as the developers make their game free to play in some form. This could be pretty awesome, but this could just make Ouya the Linux of consoles. A few, elite, dedicated people may have the patience and drive to use it, but the new Xbox and PlayStation consoles might still have all the flash. It’s possible that the Ouya might inspire a new software only console that will play AAA titles, but that console most likely won’t support a “free-to-play” model. So, the Ouya might be a stepping stone, or it might end up being Linux. Both of those options may be more likely than the Ouya becoming a fully-fledged competitor to Nintendo, PlayStation, or Xbox, but again, it’s too soon to tell.
So why did I throw down $170 (I had to get the extra controller. 2 player android games seemed worth it) to buy a system that I’m not sure will succeed? Mainly because at this point, there’s still just as much chance that it will succeed as there is that it will flop. To me it was an even bet, and with the media support through OnLive and XMBC I figured that it wouldn’t be a total loss even if developers and gamers never took to it. I also wanted to put my money where my mouth is. Many people have been critiquing the current console system and the way that big title games are currently made. As many of you know, a lot of current games are stale repetitions of previously made games. To me, almost all FPS games are the same game, and there’s not a lot of incentive for me to buy any of them. Since these titles take so much money to make, developers want to spend their money on something “safe” which usually means non-innovative. If we buy these games, then we are supporting this “safe” model and not forcing developers to reconsider what types of games they design. If you like FPS the way they are then that’s great, not trying to dig on those, but you will continue to support that type of game with your money. I wanted to support something new and innovative, to perhaps call video game companies to be more aware of new developments in technology and gaming. With 8,596,475 dollars raised for the Ouya, I think that the system will at the very least force big developing companies to re-think some aspects of the current business model, and I’m glad that my paltry $170 has something to do with that.
[Edit] Kotaku just reported that OnLive is going bankrupt. I wonder what kind of implications this will have for the Ouya?