The Ouya is almost here, with the new console shipping out March 28th to Kickstarter buyers and by June for regular retail and online purchases.
With the Wii U already out, the PS4 on its way, and current generation consoles slashing prices as new ones approach – is the Ouya actually worth buying? That’s a good question, and largely will depend on what you are looking for.
Ouya – The Hardware
While an Nvidia Tegra 3 processor is far from cutting edge in the mobile world at this point, it isn’t a pushover by any means either. With a 1.7GHz quad-core Tegra 3, 1GB of RAM, 8GB internal flash, the Ouya is actually rather powerful for its $99 asking price.
Sure, the Ouya is not a Playstation 3 or Xbox 360. That said, its specs likely are a step over the Nintendo Wii. While Nintendo’s Wii didn’t support HD graphics, the Ouya will after all.
So is the Ouya priced well for its specs? Yes! To put it into comparison, a Wii black bundle with Wii Sports and Wii Sports Resort currently costs $129.99. The Ouya is $99, and has tons of free games available for download that probably match the kind of depth found with many of the Wii Sports games.
It is also worth noting that Ouya has revealed that will upgrade the system every year for just $99. According to their plan, games will likely ‘scale’ their graphics depending on what kind of processor/RAM configuration you have and anything you buy for the first Ouya will transfer to the second-gen model and so on.
This means that the Ouya could end up costing hundreds if you buy a model each year, but it also means less spending all at once and yet you still will get a reasonably decent gaming and entertainment experience.
But why not just get a PS3, 360, next Xbox or PS4?
If you have the money and only have one TV set you regularly use, getting a Sony or Microsoft console (or even the Wii U) is probably going to give you a more advanced gaming experience. That said, Ouya will give you many of the unique indie games that you won’t find on the Sony, Microsoft or Nintendo consoles. You might find some of these on your tablet or smartphone, though.
The biggest reason to buy the Ouya is that it is very affordable and is great as a secondary gaming/entertainment device if you have multiple TVs in your house. Unlike the Wii or even the Sony/Microsoft current consoles, the Ouya will have TONS of major entertainment apps and not just the ‘bigger players’ like Netflix and Hulu Plus.
The Family Factor
Let’s say you are a parent. You are looking for a “gaming” device for your family but you either have a limited budget or just feel your kids don’t need a $350+ gaming system.
You could go with a tablet, but it isn’t exactly great for multiplayer. The Ouya supports multiple controllers and is very affordable. There are also tons of free games and every game can at least be tried before you buy it.
That alone makes the $99 quite trivial for parents of younger kids that don’t necessarily need the “hardcore” games that a teenager or young adult gamer might be after.
The Open Factor
Like modding and tinkering? The Ouya comes with standard screw sizes that make it easy to take apart. The software is built on Android and fully capable of being opened up. More than likely ROMs that give you full Android Jelly Bean experiences will also arrive for the console at some point in the future.
The bottom-line is that if you want to unlock extra abilities out of your Ouya, you can. Additionally, if you are a developer, any Ouya can be a developer unit. This is important not just for Ouya developing, but helping refine your skills if you are still new to the development game.
The Entertainment Factor
As mentioned before, there will be plenty of apps like YouTube, Vevo, XBMC, TuneIn, Netflix and more. The Ouya is no more expensive than any of these set-top boxes and yet offers a similar selection of apps on top of its games. Have an entertainment app you wish the Ouya came with that works for Android? It is very possible to make it work though modding, thanks to the open nature and Android-basis of the device.
The Gaming Factor
The Ouya is first and foremost an open gaming system geared towards indie gamers, casual gamers and those that like the idea of playing mobile games on the big screen. While there isn’t any “killer” titles announced at this point, there are over 200+ games on their way to the Ouya around its launch window, with much more to follow. Is this is a hardcore system? I would say yes. It is also a casual system. There will likely be a little bit of both mixed in here, though expect the majority of the more “hardcore” games to probably be from indie studios (not that this is a bad thing).
Not all of these will be gems, but even if you find just two or three you love – it will likely pay for the paltry price of the Ouya.
There are also a few unique looking games being worked on for the Ouya, like the one in this trailer:
Interested in learning more about the games coming to Ouya? Here’s a pretty comprehensive list.
The bottom-line is that the Ouya probably isn’t going to take the gaming world by storm and knock out the competition, but it could certainly be exactly what you are looking for if you want a cheap gaming and entertainment system regardless of whether you are a parent, a mobile gamer, indie gamer or simply someone wanting a set-top box with a few games thrown in.
What do you think of the Ouya, do you think it is worth it or do you feel that it is a good idea but largely one that has very little chance of succeeding?