Ouya’s funding has been a resounding success. Within 24 hours, the Android home console has raised over $2.6 million on Kickstarter. That’s not bad considering Ouya was only asking for $950,000 to mass produce the device. While I’m glad the living room is getting another contender, I do have some concerns about how practical Ouya really is.
To be fair, Ouya isn’t really navigating into uncharted territory. No, there isn’t another dedicated Android home console widely available, but it doesn’t have to be. In many ways, the home Android console is probably sitting in your pocket or on your coffee table. Many Android tablets and some Android smartphones can already connect to larger screens via HDMI. All you need to do is pair a Bluetooth controller to the device and you’ve got yourself a mini console. If you already possess this kind of functionality, why pay $100 for the Ouya?
Ouya also contributes to Android fragmentation. It won’t connect to Google Play like most Android devices because it’s only really meant to play games. This was confirmed by Ouya founder Julie Uhrman in an interview with The Next Web.
“We’re basing this on Android, but we’re going to build our own marketplace and our own UI; we will be curating the content, marketing and promoting it, just as any other storefront would do,” Uhrman said.
It’s possible we’ll see Ouya develop first-party games that won’t be found in Google Play. Chip makers such as Qualcomm and NVIDIA also employ this strategy with TegraZone and Snapdragon GameCommand to lure customers to devices they support. This by no means breaks Android as a platform, it is an annoying roadblock.
I’m also concerned with Ouya’s specs. At this time, Ouya has 1GB of RAM, a Tegra 3 processor and 8GB of internal storage. At this time, Ouya has the internals of a high-end smartphone. However, Ouya isn’t expected to become available until 2013. It’ll be a whole new ballgame by then.
By March 2013, the best phones on the market are going to have 2GB of RAM and will probably run on NVIDIA upcoming “Wayne” SoC. In fact, the South Korean Samsung Galaxy S III has 2GB of RAM already. It would be a shame for Ouya to already be technically outdated by the time it launches.
The biggest potential issue of them all involves the games themselves. Android is a mobile platform and most games reflect that. How many Android games have you wanted to sit down in front of your television and play? For me, the answer is zero. Most of these games lack the depth and polish that we’re used to when we play on large HD displays. Even ambitious games such as Shadowgun is best experienced in small doses. The Oyua has the inherent challenge of making mobile games suitable for a home console. That is not an easy task.