First impressions of the OUYA

Ouya games console with game controller

Ouya games console with game controller

Recently I bought the OUYA games console and game controller; an Android-based games console that costs £99 (extra controllers cost around £30-40). The OUYA comes with HDMI cable, power cable, 2x AA batteries, a games controller (Bluetooth) and several ports including Micro USB, USB, Ethernet and power ports.

Using WIFI, the Android-based games console was backed via a Kickstarter project and was released in the UK on Tuesday 25 June 2013 and by mid-day, reports that Amazon had sold out as well as several US chain stores.

What’s the deal with the OUYA?

Well its a budget Android powered “hackable” gaming console games console aimed at gamers on modest incomes, people who liked Retro gaming and of course; Indie game development. As it’s Android based you can “side load” pretty much anything on to it, and people have added their own apps, most of which are emulator for SNES, NES, Neo Geo, Commodore 64 and others.

In terms of hardware, the OUYA has a nVidia Tegra 3, 1GB of RAM, and 8GB of flash storage and is expandable with a SD card.

Initial thoughts and reservations

Having spent a bit of time setting up the OUYA and figuring out WIFI connectivity issues relating to firewall settings, I finally got the OUYA up and running and playing some games.

Every game is free to try with the idea that you will buy games you like, plus there is the added advantage of making and self-publishing your own games via the Micro USB.

The UI interface is interesting, but it can be hard to find out specific information such as no visual indicator of how much a game actually costs to buy on screen, how much disk space you have left.

The games themselves are fine, and some are a bit too expensive for my liking. When signing up you have the option to use a credit card (which I would avoid) and a pay via a paper based voucher system which is similar to how the Playstation network works.

Where my reservations lie are that it will be viewed and seen by many as a dev kit, a toy and not a serious games device because of the lack of power, hardware or proper design.

Perhaps part of this might be because the amount they raised to make OUYA wasn’t even touching the surface of making a games console on the scale of Sony PS4, Vita, Microsoft, and with constant rumours that an Apple games console means that the OUYA could be dead within a year or less; without proper games companies backing it and major investment.

For those in indie development, the PS4 is coming out soon. Vita is opening up to indie developers I see both these and whatever Apple does as strong reasons that the OUYA is going to have a very hard market to crack.

TV in a world gone mobile?

In a world gone mobile it seems odd to be talking about a device for the TV.

I do feel its lacking something, maybe its build quality, maybe its not as good as the hype or maybe its because for the same price you could get a pre-owned VITA, a pre-owned PS2 and a bunch of games.

Developing for the OUYA?

At this current time, developing for the OUYA seems limited to Unity, Android Java (which I don’t really want to be learning) and a few game engines. Corona SDK, Multimedia Fusion 2, YoYoGames are all meant to be making exporters which target the OUYA but it is my feeling this will be arriving within 2-3 months of the OUYA. Already, YoYoGames is making in-roads towards OUYA development.

For the cynical, the OUYA perhaps should have been called the Unity-Box; because thats what your going to need to develop properly for the device. Thats not to say if your really good with Java you could make apps for the OUYA. For me, Java development is not something I want to be doing to make a simple game.

I’m going to keep the OUYA for the summer and see if I can do simple apps with it without Unity.

For further information on developing for OUYA, check out this article http://gamedev.tutsplus.com/articles/how-to-learn/how-to-learn-ouya-gamedev/

My first initial feelings on the OUYA are:

  • Hardware: 5/10
  • Software: 5/10
  • Developing for it: 4/10
  • Future? Unsure

Overall: 5/10.