Opinion: Will OUYA Be Used To Test The Waters?

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.

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34 Comments

  1. Pretty much what OUYA will amount to, unless of course it comes out the gate with an impressive launch lineup. I considered backing it, but the lack of real-time footage of the thing working, plus the fact that the final controller hasn’t been physically shown/previewed meant that I just couldn’t see a great future in it.

    • I thought about backing it for a while, but I’m afraid that they might just not make it in the end. They’re aiming for a February 2013 release, and yet they have no hardware prototype to show and the only tech demos in their videos are either the Tegra official tech demo, or the HTML5 mockup interface. Not impressive and leaves out too many questions on how the unit will actually perform in the end.

  2. Its going to be very good for young developers who need a break somewhere. It won’t be anything ground breaking, it will be the ‘youtube’ of the gaming industry if you will.

    • That’s a very interesting way to look at it, brilliant comparison.

    • When comparing YouTube to what? The Film & TV industry? If that’s the case it means no one will go there for serious content (or very few).

      • The majority of content on YT is certainly ridiculous, but if you look at the possibilities it (and services like it) open up for new creators and apply that to OUYA it seems exciting.

      • I’ve always said that Youtube has built a huge bridge between film and tv and its consumers, now anybody can create a high standard piece work and share it with everybody world wide. Many people have earned money/jobs from content they have produced for Youtube, University students often produce high quality animations, films and other visual content for Youtube – i’d say that if Ouya has half the effect on the gaming industry as Youtube has on visual media (as a whole) then it will be a massive success.

      • Erm, the Film and TV industry atm ARE ridiculous. Please don’t suggest otherwise XD

      • I think maybe more like Vimeo?

    • But you don’t need Ouya for that, you can write a flash/HTML5 game and put it on Kongregate, Newgrounds or any other existing services. Super Meat Boy got out of Newgrounds, the same for Castle Crashers. It’s not going to be the Youtube of the gaming industry, because the Youtube of gaming industry is already there.

      • The problem is those sort of services don’t draw attention because they’re not a specific platform. Super Meat Boy and Castle Crashers did come from there (I was actually kicking myself for not including those examples), but there were more used as Flash demos for publishers etc… Having Ouya as a specific platform may well help to push games to the fore. For example those sort of sites were there before the iPhone, but the iPhone helped promote games similar to what you can get on Flash games sites to a level that they’d never achieved before.

  3. In my mind it is doing something not dissimilar to the Wii. Coming in at such a low cost that people are tempted simply to try it out. Unlike the Wii however, the same is true from the developer side. Not only can they develop for ‘free’ but they aren’t even restricting themselves to the one device and taking a risk if it fails. Their games are just Android games so they still have the established phone and tablet buyers to sell to even if Ouya flops, and that is why it won’t

  4. I’m struggling to see where it fits in. I can definitely see how it might appeal to developers but we’re also looking at it encroaching on a busy home console market already. It’s main draw being the price but the momentum needs to already be there with games.

    I remain unconvinced but excited by what might happen and how it’s come about from a Kickstarter.

  5. How is OUYA supposed to be pronounced??

    Is it a bit like a posh orgasm “Ooh, Yah!”?

    • Oo-yah is correct.

    • Oooh, Yay Tarquin, you’ve hit the spot darling !

      • Why thank you chumley. How uttely delightful of you to say so.

        More tea?

  6. they need a lot more money for a start something about it says con to me, like we will see madden on this EA on a very hackable console do not think so.

    • Why do they need more money? The initial production run looks like it’s going to be /about/ 90,000 – 100,000 units (based on numbers available in rewards etc…) and the components certainly cost less than $99. Hell the Nexus 7 components cost ~$150 and ~$38 of that is the screen, something the OUYA obviously lacks. Also taking into account the iPad’s battery costs ~$30 (I couldn’t find a Nexus 7 battery cost) that nearly $70 saved just because the OUYA doesn’t need a screen and doesn’t run on batteries, putting it at ~$80. Of course there’s other costs to take into account, but it still seems like the money adds up.

      • Don’t forget the controller! :) I think that they will be selling the hardware at ‘cost price’, expecting to make money through fees on the micro-transactions that take place. I mean, if not everyone roots their system and simply pirate the games :).

      • I think overall it will be at cost, but they’ve already stated that component cost is less than $99. Doesn’t take into account other factors of course.

  7. Absolutely not.

    Dont go crazy

    Its getting 1 title maybe 2 weeks before the other platforms get it. That doesnt mean anything

  8. ouya is a waste of time non starter

    that due to hype and marketing, is getting press, but if you look deeper its a worthless platform

  9. I pledged for an OUYA simply out of curiosity, I don’t think it’ll be hugely successful further down the line, but at least it’ll be a breath of fresh air and work great as a second console.

  10. As a sort of side console, I think it would be fantastic especially with other media capabilities and user-generated apps etc.

    However, it would take a lot for me to throw myself behind it as a gamer. From the developer’s perspective Ouya is paradise and will likely give rise to a fair few games that wouldn’t have come to light if not for the existence of the platform.

    Unlike some, I like to find myself nestled within a community, surrounded by a feature-set that continues to expand at a conservative pace. If Ouya has an infrastructure similar to XBL/PSN in which there are friends lists, trophy support, video/screen capture and whatnot then I would certainly consider it.

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