OPINION: Will Ouya 'upend console gaming'? I don't think so.

Kickstarter utopia project is just a $2m pipedream, argues Will Holdsworth

It's not usually in my business to urinate on people's cornflakes. Really. I'd much rather be in the position to say 'yes, that was an excellent purchase you just made' - or, more to the point, 'sound investment, buddy' - rather than 'sorry mate, but you've thrown a substantial wad of money that you probably worked hard to earn up the ruddy wall'.

But with Ouya, the Kickstarter that has inexplicably blitzed its $950,000 dollar target (it currently sits at $2.3m pledged) and promises to "upend console gaming", I feel compelled to voice my opinion; that it's a big, $2m pipedream.


The Ouya pitch follows thus; Everyone loves console games on a massive widescreen TV, but consoles are expensive to develop for and expensive to buy. What if you could create a console that cost $99 to buy and was a completely open platform, free from the kind of licensing and manufacturing fees that Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo impose?

What's more, those games will be of triple-A quality and offer "at least some gameplay for free", with developers deciding when they actually begin charging players for the privilege of playing their games.

Sounds like a beautiful utopia. A world where everything is affordable and both players and developers dance gaily, hand in hand, through meadows of cheap and profitable interactive entertainment. Sadly I think that meadow is, for consumers at least, not a place that's going to change the entire landscape.

For a start, if you're expecting your 99 bucks to buy you cutting edge console technology that's going to look crisp in a year's time, you really are dreaming. For all the company's claims that this Android-based console is built to "play the most creative content from today's best known AAA game designers" Ouya is driven by Nvidia's Tegra 3 processor, which is designed for mobile devices.

It's laudably power efficient, can output enough pixels to fill a 1080p screen and is cheap to manufacture, but crucially struggles to blow away high-end mobile phones - let alone match the fidelity of the seven-year-old Xbox 360.

Shadowgun, the shooter that features prominently in Ouya's marketing video, probably looks pin-sharp on a wafer-thin Android mobile, but I'm sceptical as to how compelling it's going to be on a 46-inch HD TV.

The best the Ouya can hope to offer then is mobile games, only splashed across the unforgiving expanse of your television screen. Great for start-up devs looking for a platform to release their creativity, but hardly a prospect that's going to "upend console gaming" as far as consumers are concerned.


Games on your television are brilliant, granted, but only if they're a marked improvement on the games you can already play on the bus, or secretly on the toilet.

The outlook would be marginally less tragic were there not an equivalent offering on the market already. Regardless of whether OnLive could be described as successful, it offers a home, television-based console for the conveniently comparable price of $99.99.

Yes it requires an internet connection, but we're presuming that, if you want to actually play any games, your Ouya will need to be connected to the internet as well.

The difference is that, thanks to its unique delivery method, OnLive runs easy-to-code PC versions of contemporary triple-A console games on hardware equivalent to a pocket calculator. Those games require minimal conversion and the service has a healthy selection of indie games too.

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