During an interview yesterday with The Wall Street Journal, Ouya CEO, Julie Uhrman, announced that the Ouya preorders will begin this week with an anticipated release date around June 2013 and units will be sold through such retailers as Target, Gamestop, Best Buy, and Amazon. If you weren’t aware yet, the Ouya is an Android based gaming console that was a majorly successful KickStarter campaign which raked in over $8.5 million in contributions. Now, the Ouya is on the verge of being released to major markets at about $99 a unit and it is arguable as to whether or not the unit will be a competitor for Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony.
With it’s appealing price and the ability to demo all games before you play them, the Ouya seems to be a dream come true for those of us that hate wasting money on lackluster games that had big money advertisements to lure you into a disappointing purchase. But, the successful integration of the Ouya into hardcore gamer’s homes will not be know until after June. So, in the meantime, I would like to consider that this may be the very beginning of inexpensive, high-quality gaming consoles becoming a thing of the very near future. There have always been those crappy “as seen on TV” units that crammed every Nintendo or Atari knock-off game into a plug-and-play unit, which seemed like a good idea that was poorly executed. Now, the Ouya seems to be the beginning of this concept done the right way. And, the Ouya is not the only mini-console coming out, there is also the Game Stick which hopes to be a competitor to the Ouya.
Now, if we think back and compare the supply vs. demand concept to something like a tablet based computer system, you will remember the iPad being released, and not too long after it’s success, every other major and minor electronics developer released some sort of tablet themselves. Because of the immediate popularity of the iPad the tablet market quickly became riddled with good, to decent, to horrible versions, the majority of which are Android based. My hope is that the introduction of the Ouya and Game Stick into the gaming marketplace does not provoke an influx of Android based gaming consoles. We already know Steam and Apple are working on gaming units as well, but these are established companies that have been successful in the gaming world. How would you feel if you begin to see a Sylvania, JVC, or Pandigital Android gaming console on the shelves next to an Xbox?
I don’t want to sound opposed to having other options apart from Xbox, Nintendo and Playstation, but I also don’t want to see an unnecessary, and often times embarrassingly, large amount of cheap plastic knock-offs being sold in Best Buy’s and CVS’s. I would challenge that we all be very smart and vocal about the successes and failures of these units. Not only do they pose a threat to the ever-shrinking major gaming studios, but they can also cheapen a culture that most of us hold so dearly. Look at this possible outcome as a comparison to when e-books became popular and all those that started reading more often were paying as little as $1 to own whatever fan-fiction was popular at the time (with the character’s names changed for legal reasons). There are many of us that continue to rant and rave that physical books are better in every way (because they are), but that didn’t, and doesn’t, stop book stores from closing.
So what do you think about the Ouya and Game Stick? Are they good for the gaming marketplace, or not? What actually defines a “good” game console?