US$99 Android-powered game console

SIOBHAN KEOGH
Last updated 12:40 11/07/2012
Ouya
OUYA: A new, cheap console built on the Android system and funded by gamers clamouring for change.

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A new, inexpensive game console built on the Android ecosystem has been funded by gamers clamouring for a change in the games industry.

The console, called Ouya, aims to get developers working on projects for the TV again, rather than smartphones and tablets, and intends to offer exclusively 'free-to-play' games.

What that means is the there will at least be free demos of games, and many will employ a free-to-play model funded by completely optional microtransactions.

The creators of Ouya were asking for $950,000 to fund the project on crowd-funding website Kickstarter. At the time of writing, the project had raised $1,045,170 in twelve hours, and completed its goal just before 9am New Zealand time.

"I love video games, but more and more people are moving away from the television," said Ouya's founder Julie Uhrman.

"I've been trying to figure out, how to we get them back to [the TV]."

The console will run on a Tegra3 quad-core processor, have 1GB RAM and run Android 4.0. It has 8GB internal storage - no word yet on whether that will be expandable.

Those who are interested can visit the Kickstarter page to pledge their dollars to the cause until 9 August, although New Zealanders will have to pay an extra US$20 for international shipping, making the total cost $119 (NZ$150).

Uhrman described the console as "an inexpensive game consoler for gamers", designed to open doors to those who are tired of trying to jump over hurdles to develop for the TV.

Ouya was designed by Yves Bahar, who has previously worked on products such as the $100 laptop and the Jambox. Bahar's products are designed to make expensive technologies available to those who could not ordinarily afford them.

"We like to use all the different parts of design and fuse them together, whether it's industrial design or user experience," Bahar said.

"We really focused a lot on what gamers are looking for: precise controls, tactility, right sizing."

What makes Ouya different, Bahar said, is that developers are able to build games right away, without paying "outrageous" amounts of money for a developer kit.

"You don't have to have a lot of credentials - just good ideas," Bahar said.

The creators of Ouya already have a working prototype for the console, and said it will have games from both major game publishers and indie companies. The console is designed to be hackable.

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Uhrman said developing the console woud take a lot of "guts and courage".

"Effectively we're trying to disrupt an established industry."

Kiwis might want to get their Ouyas now, because the company does not know whether the device will be available internationally after the Kickstarter has closed.

An Ouya representative told New Zealand PC World that international shipping issues will be handled "after the dust settles", so the company could not say whether the device will be available in New Zealand when the product actually comes to market.

However, the company also said the Ouya would be sold online, which would increase the likelihood of New Zealand availability, and that the company was also in talks with retailers about selling through them.

-PC World

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