Ouya console is a hit on Kickstarter

Sets funding record by reaching $2 million in its first day
Darren Allan

July 11, 2012

Kickstarter is a crowd funding website which, as we reported yesterday, will be UK-bound this autumn.

The site has already had some massive successes in the US when it comes to raising money for potential projects, such as the Pebble Smartwatch, which secured pledges totalling over $10 million.

Now a new darling has emerged into the Kickstarter world, and this time, it’s an open source, Android-based games console by the name of Ouya (that’s “ooo-yah”).

Whereas the Pebble watch hit a million in 28 hours on Kickstarter, Ouya has racked up no less than $2 million in its first day, and reached the million mark in around 12 hours, leading many to speculate that it might outdo the Pebble’s $10 million total eventually.

Over 17,000 backers have signed up to support Ouya thus far, the vast majority of them pledging the $99 minimum required to get a console and controller shipped before the hardware hits the stores.

So why is the concept of this console so popular? For several reasons, not the least of which is that cheap $99 price tag.

The hardware you’ll get for that money includes a Tegra 3 quad core engine, 1GB of RAM, 8GB of flash storage, a USB and HDMI port, wi-fi, bluetooth, and a wireless controller (which has a touchpad on board). All running Android 4.0.

The team behind Ouya is promising to bring talent and creativity back to the console world, away from the mobile and tablet gaming arena which has caused a game dev “brain drain” of late – simply because developing and distributing on those platforms is far easier.

So Ouya intends to be completely open, with every console system being a dev kit, allowing developers full access to create and publish games without jumping through hoops, or being driven to great expense.

And that, in turn, will mean costs are kept down for the end user, too. The only stipulation Ouya requires of developers is that some gameplay is free (a limited play free demo, at least, or many may take the free-to-play micro-transaction route which is becoming ever more popular).

Ouya even welcomes hackers, allowing rooting without voiding the warranty, and encouraging tweakers to mess around, create their own peripherals for the system, and so on. A refreshing perspective indeed.

A common question would seem to be: Is this just a way of playing Android smartphone and tablet games on an HDTV? Of course, Android games will be easily portable over to the device, but the minds behind Ouya take pains to point out that the console can do far more than this.

They note: “We’ve built this badboy to play the most creative content from today’s best known AAA game designers as well as adored indie gamemakers.”

The argument against, of course, is that Tegra 3 can only do so much in terms of gaming. Although it has to be said that the implementation of the chip in a console system will be considerably more powerful than your average mobile device, where memory and clock speeds are limited by battery and heat issues.

There’s no doubting that the hardware is impressive at the pitched price level, particularly considering that the system includes a controller. And the move away from the tricky and tangled game development process of current generation consoles to a simple, streamlined scheme is an exciting direction to be turning towards.

Take a look at the project, and consider a possible pledge, here.

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