The news of Robotoki’s Human Element appearing first on OUYA is likely to make a few more people sit and listen about what the console has to offer, and for me it opens up a new possibility for the low cost console. You see, compared to other consoles, even compared to iOS, OUYA’s barriers to entry are ridiculously low, and it’s all because it runs Android.
The cost of developing a game for Android, in terms of software tools etc. can be, basically, zero. Sure, you have to pay for frameworks if you want to use them, but pure Android is free; all you have to do is download the SDK. That link will take you there, and you could start developing right now on, basically, whatever platform you have installed on your PC, Mac, laptop or netbook.
Hell, there’s probably a few tablets out there that you could develop for Android on, although I wouldn’t recommend it.
iOS, by comparison, charges you right out of the gate, and you need to have a Mac to develop on. That’s all well and good if you have a Mac but if you don’t then you need to throw down a pretty significant chunk of change just for your development environment, ignoring the need to buy any devices you might want to try to test for.
To be fair to Apple though, you do have the advantage that you’re not trying to hit a moving target in terms of device spec. If you’re a serious developer it’s probably worth having a decent number of iOS platforms about, particularly to compare different versions of the OS on the device rather than in the simulator, but it’s still a pretty solid target.
Android, by comparison, has so many different phones with different chipsets and different screen sizes, as well as different versions of the OS that may or may not be updated at some vague point in the future, depending on the device, that it’s been a bit troublesome for developers at times. Things have certainly gotten better over the last few years but there are still issues around the wide array of hardware that can be a headache for developers. It’s much the same as the PC market was at one point, but there again things have gotten better over time.[drop2]That’s one area where OUYA may prove to be a bit of a boon, you’ve got one target platform and one version of the OS to hit. That’s it, you’re done. The console itself is pretty low cost as well, which will surely help out indies but may also make it seem attractive as a test-bed for ideas from bigger developers.
This is where we cycle back around to the announcement from Robotoki. They’re announcing a prequel for Human Element on OUYA because, judging by the video he put out, Robert Bowling supports the console. However, I suspect the price of development for the platform and the opportunity to have a chance to experiment on a platform that’s actually connected to a TV was a huge draw as well.
I firmly expect to see more and more developers taking that approach, to launch experiments, like those from 22 Cans, or to put out a prequel that’s both a way to test mechanics and an advert for your larger game on the more powerful consoles. Even if OUYA stays limited in terms of sales, I can imagine people putting out these sorts of smaller projects. They may have a smaller market but that also makes the price of failure much lower.
Whilst these type of projects won’t necessarily be what sells OUYA to consumers, at least not to a wide market, they’re still something I’d love to see. If developers have a lower cost of development I can certainly see them being willing to try more experiments and take more risks to test the waters for larger projects somewhere down the line.
Anything that encourages that is absolutely fine by me.