On the OUYA
Last month a Kickstarter project for a new game console was launched. This console was the OUYA. The concept behind this console was in response to all the “You can’t modify your game consoles” EULA clauses that come with the PS3, the XBOX 360, and the Wii. The OUYA is a “fully hackable console”. Its hardware is fairly standard – it barely trumps some of the higher-end Android tablets – and it runs on a modified Android system. Skeptics have shrugged the system off saying that it’s “nothing more than a cellphone in a box” – or in the case of more generous critics “a tablet in a box”. And hardware-wise, it is. Not only by today’s standards, but also when compared to the PS3 and the XBOX 360, the OUYA falls short by a mile in terms of processing power, and the idea of having a box that plays Angry Birds on the TV doesn’t seem too appealing.
However, it’s worthwhile to consider the other side of the argument.
One of the arguments made against the OUYA is that, because of its lack of power, the games for the system will not be deep enough. However, the OUYA is roughly 4 times more powerful than the PS2, a game system which had plenty of deep, engaging, and compelling games and quite possibly one of the best game libraries of any console. Games like ICO and Shadow of the Colossus were released in the PS2. Three Final Fantasy titles – one of which (FF X) is considered by some fans as one of the best Fantasies since VII (although I personally favor VI) – were released for this console, along with aesthetically groundbreaking games like Okami and Odin Sphere. The Playstation 2 was a great system by all standards, and the OUYA has roughly four times the processing capacity of the Playstation 2. Once again, this can’t compare to the current generation game systems, much less to the upcoming systems, but to say that its games won’t be deep enough is being unfair to a console that has a lot of potential.
The place where the OUYA can shine is by having a solid relationship with developers. The OUYA developers boast that they will have an easy to understand and highly accessible interface that game modders can tinker with. This, compared with its low price mark (100$), makes the hardware itself appealing to both the casual gamer and the configuration buff.
In the end, it will come down to what games are available for the system, and to dismiss the OUYA off-hand because of its specs is both ignorant and immature. As it is, the system – being the “tablet in a box” that it is, has available the entire Android library, as unimpressive as that is. Once it is released, the console makers hope to cut deals with several developers to create a solid library of titles for the console (and not for the tablets). If it works, the OUYA might actually be a great indie alternative to the more established consoles, and it will prove that it is more than just “a phone in a box”. If it fails, however, it will prove that people are better off with their choice of tablet.