This week I caved to the little voice inside my head—the one that frequently pressures me into spending money on fun plastic things—and decided to back Ouya, the $99, open-source, Android-based gaming console that is being crowdfunded on Kickstarter.
I already own a gaming PC, a 360, a PS3, a Wii, an Android phone and now an iPad—so why the hell would I want or need this thing? Further, how can I feel comfortable shelling out over $100 (shipping and handling plus a second controller costs extra) for a console with subpar hardware specs (compared to 360 and PS3) that doesn’t exist yet and for which only a very small selection of games have been confirmed? These are all good questions.
Supporting a project as ambitious as Ouya—a challenger to the core business model of the gaming industry that naturally already has many in the gaming press already predicting its demise—doesn’t come without risks:
- The end product might not live up to everyone’s expectations.
- The types of developers Ouya is hoping to attract could fail to climb on board.
- …and many others that have been pointed out by reasonably smart tech people here, here, here, here, here and especially here where the comment section alone is enough to make anyone think twice about giving money to this project.
However, I believe very strongly in the idea of the Ouya and what it’s all about. I believe Ouya is the answer to the gap that exists between core and casual gaming. I believe Ouya could upset the status quo and revolutionize gaming. That’s something I want to be a part of and why I’m excited to be taking a risk on Ouya, even if it means going down with the ship if it were to fail. I can live with losing a little bit of money knowing that it went toward a worthy cause.
Here are five personal reasons why I’m supporting Ouya:
#1 – Pride in being an early adopter.
Ouya’s runaway Kickstarter success has proven that there is a market for this type of gaming console and that there are a whole lot of gamers out there who share the platform’s ideals. I am one of them. But Ouya’s “televised revolution” can’t happen without the support of people like me who recognize what it’s capable of and how it could transform the way we think about and consume games. Of course, gamers who are expecting this console to compete with 360 or PS3 who only want to play AAA titles like Call of Duty and Skyrim are NOT the target market for this product.
#2 – Support of indie game development.
The Ouya’s open design means it will be easier for indie developers to make games without the major hurdles and huge marketing costs required to develop games for platforms like 360 and PS3.
Ex-World of Warcraft lead and CEO of Red5 Studios (developer of Firefall) Michael Kern recently did an interview with Eurogamer that sums up many of the problems facing the current gen. Here’s the relevant meat from the article:
The big appeal of Ouya to Kern is the open-platform. According to him, the platform holders’ closed distribution model is stifling innovation and common household technologies are rendering the current console climate moot.
Speaking of the current consoles’ closed distribution channel he said, “in order to stand out from the crowd you have to spend as much on marketing as you did developing it… this is not a sustainable model. Teams have gotten to have to be larger and larger and larger to justify the $60 up front model.”
“It’s killing innovation because no one can take those risks anymore or try something new with those kinds of numbers. I think that’s bad for gamers and I think that’s cripplingly bad for developers. And to be honest, I don’t see Sony or Microsoft embracing the openness of the changes that are happening in the gaming industry right now.”
“The reason we have no innovation left on consoles is because you have to spend so much money to make your game appeal to widest possible audience on that platform which is a closed platform, so that’s a limited number of users, right? Versus a PC with a free or open distribution model you can build a community around your game.”
#3 – Potential for a lot of good, platform-exclusive games.
The very first one is an awesome-looking zombie apocalypse survival game called Human Element. Though the game isn’t scheduled for release until 2015, it’s announcement and bid of financial and moral support from ex-Call of Duty developer Robert Bowling signals an important shift: that established developers want to make exciting games for Ouya, not to mention all the indie exclusives that are sure to follow as this console’s open design was meant to attract them. It’s still very early and I hope there will be many more announcements like Bowling’s, and if there are, I would hate to miss out on anything by not owning one of these very affordable devices.
#4 – It’s more suited to my play style.
There are a lot of great mobile games for Android and iOS that I love. But I don’t love not being able to play them on my huge high-def TV without a cumbersome rig of wires, extra hardware, and controllers. Mobile gaming is great, but it’s not the most comfortable of affairs for long gaming sessions and nothing can replace the familiar, tactile feeling of holding a controller in your hands. I don’t want my Android phone or iPad to have to pull double-duty, especially if I’m using them for other purposes like calls and web surfing while I’m gaming. I would rather have a dedicated piece of hardware with a small footprint in my living room that handles mobile games and that lets me play them the way I want to experience them.
#5 – Homebrew, hacks & emulation that won’t void my warranty.
Perhaps the thing that most excites me about Ouya is its “hacking encouraged” philosophy. This has the potential to be a killer console for emulation and homebrew. There are already a bunch of awesome emulators on Android for Nintendo, Super Nintendo, Genesis, and other consoles that I’ll be able to play on Ouya. As an avid retro gamer, this one machine could replace my collection of legacy gaming consoles (even though I’ll never get rid of my babies!) and easily let me play all the old classics I love on my big screen TV without the hassles I’ve mentioned above. For the $99 price point, I don’t think I could put together a decent, compact gaming computer that would let me do all these things and look as nice in my living room.
Are you a gamer? What are your thoughts on Ouya? I’m interested in hearing the reasons why you would or would not buy one.