This Crazy Goddamn Industry

Why Believe in the Ouya? A developer’s decision to back a disruptive console

In only 3 days’ time, OUYA consoles will ship all over the globe to those who either pre-ordered a unit or backed team OUYA in its now infamous Kickstarter campaign.

Every press release or announcement regarding this new console has been met with a fair share of cynicism from many angles, from both consumers and those in the industry and just about anybody in between. In this article, I want to address why I decided to drop everything and attempt to develop a title for the release of the OUYA, why it excites me, and why I want it to succeed. 

The Story So Far

For those unfamiliar with the story of this humble console, all of the hype began on Kickstarter and snowballed from there. In its campaign, the OUYA described itself as a console for the TV (pitting it, in the minds of consumers, up against the big names: Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo) that was going to sell at a $99 price point. Not bad right? Well that’s only half the pitch: the other half is that it runs Android and is a completely open platform for developers. The expensive barriers of TV console marketplace entry have been completely dropped. Of course, to be able to price units at $99 and still make a profit the hardware is not going to be as powerful as your 360 or PS3, and will be a far cry from the PS4, but that doesn’t mean it won’t deliver at least a reasonable performance on most games.

Why I Believe

I stand for everything the OUYA stands for. I grew up playing co-op games with my brother around a television, and now, without taking out a loan, I’m able to develop for the television. And that’s great, because I want to recreate that experience we had as kids for today’s generation of kids, and for the adults I want to give them something they can enjoy over pizza and a beer. The couch experience. Playing together rather than over a tenuous, ethereal connection. Real people bonding over real controllers, that’s what I want to make.

Because it just runs Android I’ve had no trouble getting a workspace up and running on my PC and starting to code, and I can deploy straight to the OUYA and test immediately. It’s as easy as running a USB from the OUYA to my PC. And the store, for better or worse, won’t be filtering submissions by quality, rather they’ll only be given a cursory glance for inappropriate content. It’s that open. Yes, that means some terrible games will turn up on the marketplace. But also, and more importantly, it gives the little man a chance if they’re able to make something genuinely enjoyable.

And on the question of performance, has that ever stopped you from enjoying games on your mobile? Although the gameplay takes place on the television, it is a marriage of mobile and console technologies. The great thing about mobile games is that the technical limitations stopped developers from saying “hey, we should make a giant AAA title where you shoot people, but we’ll make the people MORE REALISTIC THAN THEY WERE BEFORE.” It bred innovation, cleverness, gameplay mechanics that we never would have seen if we left all the game development to the big wigs in the industry. Having hardware limitations on the OUYA only makes things more interesting, less generically photorealistic. Not necessarily a bad thing at all.

So between couch co-op, lower barriers of entry for developers and more challenging technical limitations, I think the OUYA stands to be great. And I hope to hell it succeeds, because I want to keep making games for this little beauty.

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