Is OUYA worth all the hoopla?

Monday 27 August 2012 15.06
Angry Birds set to find a natural home with OUYA console?
Angry Birds set to find a natural home with OUYA console?

Fans of the crowdfunding website Kickstarter will feel vindicated after gaming start-up OUYA saw its prototype console smash through its target of $1 million and make it to mass production.

In total $8.5 million was raised by just over 63,000 donors, more than enough to prove the appeal of a new option in console gaming for the front room, but will this little bundle of joy have any longevity? That depends on who you ask.

What's interesting about the OUYA is that it's designed as a niche console designed with 'homebrew' game developers in mind. Technically it's on a par with a smartphone and it runs a version Google Android Ice Cream Sandwich. It can run games programmed for Android with some adjustments required to handle the jump from handset to big screen.

A price point of $139 for a console and two controllers represents a fair entry point to market but, like Wii, the OUYA's appeal is predicated on the popularity of casual games like Angry Birds that will find a natural home on it.

Make no mistake, hardcore gamers used to Sony's PlayStation 3 and Microsoft's Xbox 360 will not be lusting after this little console that could, but adherents to Apple's Game Centre (the world's largest gaming ecosystem) and Nintendo's ageing console should have some of their needs met in a cheap and cheerful kind of way.

More importantly, the OUYA will become a playground of choice for budding developers looking for life beyond screens beyond 10". Indie games have hit their stride in the past five years thanks to open platforms. App developers too will be able to join in and there are already rumours circulating about content deals with NAMCO BANDAI, cloud gaming service OnLive and ClearChannel Radio. If the OUYA proves a success one would imagine Netflix would become interested in having a conversation as well.

From a local perspective, the OUYA could become be the next Raspberry Pi. Small, cheap and just powerful enough to get the job done, it would be a fine fit at Coder Dojos and similar programming clubs.

Will the OUYA change mainstream gaming? No. But it will inspire people to work on projects that will.

Shipping begins in April in the US.

Niall Kitson is editor of TechCentral.ie