On June 4th OUYA, the first fully Open Source video game console, will be released, and I for one am very excited about the prospect.
I think the OUYA has great potential to be a lively little system for library-hosted gaming events. What’s more, it’s priced within easy reach for most libraries. An OUYA with a controller lists at $99.99. Additional controllers are available for $49.99 each. If you’re thinking of gaming events, investing in more controllers is a must (it supports up to four players at a time). This is a nice price, especially when you compare it to other current gen offerings:
- A PS3 Slim with one controller lists at $299.99 and each additional controller lists for $54.99
- An Xbox 360 with one controller lists at $199.99 with additional controllers list for $49.99 each
- A Wii U will cost $299.99 and additional pro controllers run $49.99.
With such a low price point, you might rightly be wondering if the hardware is cripplingly underpowered, and oddly enough, it’s not. While it’s no behemoth, it sports a 1.7 GHz quad-core Tegra 3 processor, 1 GB of RAM, 1080p HD output, and Nvidia ULP GeForce graphics, and that ain’t bad.
The fact that OUYA is Open Source also means that it’s readily possible for people in your community to develop games and other software for it. I would love to see libraries encouraging and hosting this kind of creative endeavor through programs, hackathons, and the like.
Affordability, performance, and openness are great reasons to be interested in an OUYA, but they’re not the only ones. OUYA games are purchased online and downloaded (you can extend its native 8 GB storage capacity via USB). This means that you own them forever (even if you bust your cube) and that there are neither optical media to besmirch or crack, nor cartridges to break or spill soda on. Additionally, all games are being released on a try-before-you-buy basis. This presents a great opportunity to let teen faithfuls test out new games and make recommendations to you, so you can develop your collection in a meaningful way, more influenced by actual gameplay than by packaging.
As with all emerging technologies, there is reason to be cautious. This is a new system without an established following like the PlayStation, Xbox, and Wii franchises have. That being said, OUYA does have major grassroots fan support (it was funded through a record-breaking Kickstarter campaign) and numerous enthusiastic developers. Interestingly, it’s Android-based, so despite being a new platform, there is already a well-established world of software developers. You can see the list of programs already completed or currently in development for it here. Ultimately, the proof of its market viability will be in the gameplay. That’s something I can’t speak to yet, though I can’t wait to find out…