The Android-powered Ouya console goes live for the masses this June, but is currently shipping to early Kickstarter backers.
For the uninitiated, the Ouya console runs Android Jelly Bean (4.1-4.2) and is powered by an Nvidia Tegra 3 chip. Additional specs include 8 GB internal flash memory, 1 GB RAM, HDMI (1080p), Nvidia ULP GeForce GPU, USB 2, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth LE 4.0, Ethernet port and a wireless controller.
As we've previously opined on TG Daily, the Android-powered system will be undoubtedly be disruptive, both in terms of price and OS, but whether or not the console ultimately succeeds depends on a number of factors.
Firstly, $99 is a considerably lower price point than any of the next-gen consoles from industry heavyweights like Nintendo (Wii U), Microsoft (Xbox 720) and Sony (Playstation 4).
Of course, an appealing price tag is no guarantee of success, but it certainly helps.
Secondly, the current console cycle is stagnating. Frankly, at this point the industry should be embarrassed at how long gamers have been forced to play on woefully outdated hardware. As Crytek founder and CEO Cevat Yerli recently noted, current consoles are "drying out."
Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, Ouya actually listens to customer feedback and is flexible enough to implement relevant changes. Obviously, this is partially due to the fact that Ouya has not yet been mass produced. Still, one can’t help but get the feeling that Ouya may actually be the first truly crowd-sourced console.
As noted above, Ouya is currently shipping to early Kickstarter backers, with the first reviews going live this Friday. Kicking off our review round-up is Adi Robertson of The Verge, who believes the system "still has a ways to go" before it can be deemed a full-fledged home console competitor.
"Even if I’m not convinced of its utility, though, I’m reassured that it’s trying to offer something new and different, not just a rehashed set of Android games or another hardware gateway to the same content," she explained. "And at $99, it doesn’t have a high bar to clear."
Meanwhile Eric Franklin of CNET said he liked what he saw during his brief time with Ouya.
"The idea of an indie-focused device that nearly obliterates the barrier of entry for would-be console developers gets me excited as a gamer. Its low price, small size, and free-to-try model should appeal to families on a budget as well," he wrote.
"Those enamored with the indie gaming scene will find Ouya especially appealing, but if you have your heart set on the next Xbox or PS4, Ouya will probably not satisfy your cravings, especially if you’re at this level of graphical fidelity. But, as long as your expectations are reasonable, and you’re cool with smaller, simpler games for the most part or are looking for a low-cost way to break into the games industry, it's hard to beat that $99 price."
In their review of the system, the folks at Engadget chose to highlight what they termed as a "noticeable lag" between the game controller and the Ouya console itself.
"From games to UI, the lag was a noticeable issue -- other journalists we spoke with encountered the same issue. It's not something that's impossible to fix, of course. Even Nintendo's speeding up its Wii U software issues in an upcoming patch, so it wouldn't be a huge surprise to see OUYA correcting the lag issue before June's retail launch," said Ben Gilbert.
"It's also hard to fault what is - for now - a niggling issue with a $100 game console that went from Kickstarter to available in around 10 months. The promise of the console is far more appealing, and the time we've spent with the Ouya has us even more excited for its unknown future."
And last, but certainly not least, Alex Roth of TechRadar said he believes the Ouya still feels pretty enigmatic as a console.
"Like any video game system, it's going to live or die by its games, and we're still not sure what those will be. While we found the titles from our demo to be well adapted to the console and charmingly odd, none of them struck us as system sellers," he concluded.
"The Ouya needs a Halo. Not a first-person shooter necessarily, but something appealing and highly replayable to make people really feel that they need this system. [Basically], it needs a blockbuster to bankroll its more artistic endeavors."