Ouya: The Free to Play Console?

MMOBomb Staff
By MMOBomb Staff,

As mobile and social free to play games continue to flood the Android and iOS marketplace, and games like CCP’s upcoming Dust 514 create interest in free to play console games, it seemed inevitable that someone would put the two ideas together at some point. Enter Ouya, the upcoming Android powered home video game console that recently broke many Kickstarter records for funding. Originally seeking $900,000 USD in funding, the Ouya campaign has raised $3.5 million USD as of the time of this writing. So what’s the entire buzz about?

Ouya designer Yves Behar and founder Julie Uhrman seem to have a singular vision in mind. The idea is to create a console gaming system that delivers all the benefits of mobile gaming while allowing you to play right on your living room television. What sets Ouya apart from normal gaming consoles though is the concept of open development. Ouya intends to allow anyone to create games for the system. Are you a programming hobbyist or a large scale publishing company? Fine, you’ll have access to development kits right out of the box and you are free to publish your games without licensing, retail, or publishing fees. In fact, every Ouya owner has access to the same tools.

The system is going open source in an attempt to draw on the creativity of the masses rather than stifle that creativity with expensive dev kits and production teams. Even the hardware itself can be modified. Ouya’s creators actually encourage it! Hackers are welcome to personalize their systems in any way they see fit. The creators say the system is easy to root AND it does not void your warranty in any way. Hack it and add peripherals if you want, anything goes. While all of this sounds great there is one catch for developers.

From Ouya’s Kickstarter page:

“We're handing the reins over to the developer with only one condition: at least some gameplay has to be free. We borrowed the free-to-play model from games like League of Legends, Team Fortress 2, Triple Town, and many others. Developers can offer a free demo with a full-game upgrade, in-game items or powers, or ask you to subscribe.”

So as long as the game has some sort of free to play component, developers are fee to do what they wish. This will certainly be welcome news to potential developers and gamers alike. The free to play model has proven to be very lucrative when executed correctly and many developers will be trying to hit that sweet spot for gamers and rake in some cash at the same time.

It seems many AAA developers are keen to the idea behind Ouya as well. Head on over to Ouya’s Kickstarter page to see quotes from the likes of Jordan Mechner (creator of Prince of Persia) and Mojang (the developer behind Minecraft) among many others.

Aiming for an early 2013 release, the Ouya is expected to retail at $99 USD for the system and one wireless controller. The controller has two analog sticks, 1 D-Pad, 8 buttons, one action button, and a touchpad Ouya’s dev team hopes developers will utilize in their game designs. Additional controllers are expected to be available at launch as well.

This is certainly news to keep an eye on in both the gaming world as a whole and the free to play market. The system challenges current industry practices and targets Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony from a development cost standpoint. While the Ouya specs certainly will not be attaining the same power behind the big three consoles, the Ouya certainly puts pressure on the social gaming front for those companies, and challenges the closed minded and expensive development standards of some production houses.

With the huge amount of funding already generated on their Kickstarter page, the Ouya team looks to have found a market even larger than they expected. As launch gets closer, it will be interesting to see how the Ouya evolves with the additional money now dedicated to development.

Here’s where we break from the information, though, and I inject a few opinions. I have some pros and cons for the Ouya.

Magicman’s Ouya Pros:

1) Open Source hardware and software: This is obviously a HUGE pro to many gamers and developers. While I may not be making games myself, if I can somehow mod my Ouya to be a classic console emulator I would be thrilled.

2) Free-to-Play: This is a no brainer as well. The free to play model is what we focus on here and we all know examples of well executed free to play games. If Ouya can deliver what we love about the free to play market it will be hugely successful. Free-to-Play is a bit of a Con for me too though as you’ll see below.

3) The Price: $99 dollars for a system that promises to deliver almost all genres? Sign me up. While the Ouya team listed FPS, Action, Adventure, RPG, and other genres , MMOs were not a named genre for the initial release.

Magicman’s Ouya Cons:

1) The Specs: Don’t get me wrong, I realize what types of games we’re talking about here. Think Angry Birds and you’ve got what will probably be the dominant game size and scope you’ll be seeing on the Ouya. Hopefully some developers will be a bit more ambitious. Here’s the current specs directly from their Kickstarter page:

  1. Tegra3 Quad Core Processor
  2. 1GB RAM
  3. 8GB of Internal Flash Storage
  4. HDMI Connection for the TV with 1080p HD Support
  5. Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n
  6. Bluetooth LE 4.0
  7. USB 2.0 (One Port)
  8. The Wireless controller described above
  9. Android 4

A quick rundown of the list shows you specs that are already surpassed by many tablets currently on the market. Add in the fact that the Ouya isn’t set to launch until 2013 and these specs could be even more of an issue. Since the Ouya campaign has pulled in a great deal more money than they needed, I am hoping that these specs get seriously upgraded as Kickstarter stretch goals are added.

2) Free-to-Play: I told you this was a pro and a con in my opinion. Who exactly is going to define free to play for the Ouya? Will a one level trial and the rest unlocked through a purchase meet Ouya’s “free” requirement? Will we see nothing but trials on the marketplace without a cash investment? I think they really need to nail down exactly how much content needs to be free before the system even launches. I do not know about you but I have no desire to pay $99 to play the demos I can play right now on my Android Phone except play them on my television. I am also skeptical of the games themselves. If all games are mini-games how long would you realistically play the Ouya?

3) Piracy and a Flooded Marketplace: Like it or not piracy should be a big concern for the Ouya team. With very few restrictions on the development of software there are likely to be numerous examples of successful software being pirated so someone else can make development money. Ouya has not talked about this yet but I think they should already have some ideas in mind at this point. On kind of that same topic is the flooding of the marketplace. Free to Play MMO fans already know quite a bit about this. Every day it seems a new Anime MMO is launching and honestly a large number of them should not have been published let alone played. Take a look at your cell phone’s marketplace and you’ll see the same thing. Thousands of games with only a handful actually being worth playing or buying. Does anyone really want to surf that kind of flooded environment on their television? There have to be some quality control measures placed on development in my opinion.

So that’s it! What do you think? I’ve given my pros and cons but maybe I missed something. Throw it in the comments below! Overall I am excited by the model and ideas behind the Ouya even if I am still somewhat skeptical of the execution and performance given out so far. I know I’ll be watching this new gadget with eager eyes for now, will you?

By Mike Byrne (aka Magicman)

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Discussion (37)

Ragicano 10 years ago
Just wanted to help the post. It sounds awesome thus far, can't wait to see what type of changes it'll have on the gaming economy.

About the post, there's one typo that I caught. Could be more, but this is what I caught:

"So as long as the game has some sort of free to play component, developers are fee to do what they wish." (fee) instead of free.

Keep up the good work guys!

torchmoney1 10 years ago
you right if they deliver on the promise then im all in mmo games they did talk about games like league of legends but we just have to wait until it realease and wait for the backer response and i compare the ouya tech to the asus labtop and the ouya is about th same just a little more updated in the chipset department so all games will run fine

Sasame 10 years ago
So in other words " Here is your toy blocks, now go and build something good, so I can sell it and profit from it."

HellcatM 10 years ago
The question I have is can you play the games on the screen thats built into the controller? If so then its also a mobile gaming platform. This could be attractive to people because then it goes against the PS Vita and Nintendo DS. If not then I don't know. Playing Android games on the TV, depending on the games it could go either way. How big is the screen anyway?

Ashi 10 years ago
Dragon Nest has been announced for being on the WiiU, is there any possibility that android will be making a deal with nexon?

gdac250 10 years ago
I read all the comments people posted on this console, but I think the magority of you are forgetting one thing. This console is still in development. It's very unlikely that when this console isreleased that it will still have the same specs that were shown. What i'm planning on doing is to wait till someone makes a review on the console. Then I will start making opinions and saying if I dislike or if it looks promising.

asdfsdf 10 years ago
You not used android stuff, you talk nothing. theres other proble, if people can yous any android stuff available then its succes but if they make there some restrictions then its fail,android keeping best coz lots of stuff is pree, operating system is flexible and for everyone, iois and other crap dying fast, theres nothing more to talk about even!

xoextreme 10 years ago
this should not be labeled a console. this is just a tablet not a console. its so misleading and people are going to be so disappointed.

Daniel 10 years ago
I don't think I would buy a system that didn't have cool games, like I want some gears of war or some halo, you know something graphically pretty. I just feel like 1 gig or ram couldn't really do much for any gaming, smart phones have just as much!

View 2 replies
Thunder456789 10 years ago
??? i think the specs are just temporary why do you ask? THERE IS NO GRAPHICS CARD IN THERE

View 1 reply
Ouya is retarded as is it's name. 10 years ago
This console is stupid. If i want to play fail mobile games I will goto the play store on my android. If i want to play them on my TV I will hook my android into my tv.. WHY BUY THIS? useless.

View 1 reply
Dantiko 10 years ago
Lol, playing Minecraft in a 52' TV, man, it's going to be awesome....................:(

Guazz 10 years ago
what makes me excited about this concole is the fact that you can mod it!!! what is better that putting a better graphics card or processor in it.( if space allows )

Shway 10 years ago
This sounds like a wonderful thing. One of the biggest points for me is that it'll bring twitch streams to large television screens with ease!

Magicman 10 years ago
We actually don't disagree on anything then! :) My pointing out the specs as a con was not to imply that they are competing with tablets, but rather to show that even tablets are past this point already AND we still have 6-9 months before this is launched. At that rate these specs would be FAR out of date with even some smart phones so an upgrade almost HAS to happen before launch.

We're on the exact same page as for the games too. I'm more interested to find out exactly where the quality cut off point will be as to what games make the market and which don't and who makes that decision.

Great post! :)

HeyItsANewb 10 years ago
There's only 2 things i want to kind of argue with you about.

The first is about the Specs and how you say "specs that are already surpassed by many tablets currently on the market", Yes they are BUT this isn't trying to compete with tablets. It's not even trying to compete with other consoles on the market.
I try to play threw a new indie game at least once a week and i have yet to meet one with a great system requirement.

The second thing is the "flooding of the marketplace" I'm not going to disagree about it being flooded. I'm just going to say OF COURSE IT IS! The idea of the Ouya is development. To break the barrier between Devs and consoles. Apart from XBLA you need to be part of some big publishing firm and AAA company to get a game onto a console and even then if your with a game company like that its not your game.
Also don't think that ALL games that are submitted are going to be on the market, as you said yourself Piracy will be a big thing.

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Dosu 10 years ago
Well , when i look at the specs than i can only ask myself . Why ? A HTC One X might cost way more but got around the same power and its Mobile with the Ability to work like a Phone .

So who ever needs a Console wich is when it comes out technically outdated by far .
Right now the Computer/Micro chip technology is growing and evolving like never before .

Zalor 10 years ago
So they're making a console that allows you to play Mobile, but on your TV like an Xbox or PS3? Am I the only one that sees a problem here? Why not just play your Xbox or PS3? They're taking mobiles games and throwing out the mobile part. Isn't that the main reason people play on there IPhones and Androids? I like the idea but i just don't see the point in all this.

View 1 reply
LuthexColbark 10 years ago
This seems a pretty cool idea
But my concern is that since almost anyone can put stuff on then there will be alot of bad games on there.
When I think F2P i'm thinking League of Legends, Firefall, and etc.
If they are making a F2P console then I think the games have to be 'console quality' as well.
I wouldn't want to play Angry Birds on a console.
So I think that it is a must to boost up the specs if they want to get me on the wagon.

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Phlash33 10 years ago
I'm thinking about getting the console off kickstarter but I won't do the whole holiday thing. Annoying since you have to spend $20 to get it shipped abroad. I'm sure I could get it shipped to my cousin and then get it abroad that way as it won't cost $20 to post it abroad.

jacob 10 years ago
will minecraft be on the console cince its in the image ?

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jacob 10 years ago
im not realy sure how this is gonna work but i cant wait . if you can creat your own games for consol
and then be able to sell them maybe then thats cool but what about the specs . i dont know much
about specs but im seeing low numbers . plus i think magicmans right . how will they dicide if a games free to play . but agin for 99 bucks i think it would be good for causual gamerz.

Sebastianated 10 years ago
Magicman, about the upgrades. What i think will happen is they will sell you the product, then after alot of people have bought it and been using it for awhile. They will put out upgrades that you HAVE to buy, because were talking about a company that is selling a console that is basically free once you pay that 99$, and your the one making money if you are making game's. So, they have to make money in some other way.

View 1 reply

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