Ouya Console: Gaming Goes Open Source

Whether you’re a hardcore video game fan or a casual consumer, Ouya’s creators want you to believe in their video gaming revolution.

Created by Julie Uhrman and her team of developers, the Ouya is an online TV video game console looking to restore freedom to consumers and independent developers. In order to raise funds for the project and make it a reality, Uhrman and her team utilized Kickstarter, an online system created to generate public funding for projects and events. Ouya first took the consumer electronics world by storm after raising millions within the first days of its Kickstarter campaign. Today, the project has raised over $8 million in public funds, nearly eight times more than its initial goal of $950,000.


What does Ouya offer? For starters, they’re giving us a free-to-play business model. Though many of the “free” games won’t be full copies, video game publishers and developers are still hoping to give players a strong preview of what they could purchase. If you want to keep playing a game, buy it and go for it. If you’re not interested, you’re not interested. It’s an excellent move most current publishers don’t practice since they’re usually afraid consumers will lose interest in a demo. But either way, who wants to play a game that’s already boring less than 30 minutes in? Any good video game should capture an audience in seconds.


Ouya also aspires to change the way titles are developed. Video game publishing currently utilizes an all-too-familiar business model: If you know someone who knows someone, you may have a chance to convince them your product is worth selling. The Ouya, however, plans on opening the floodgates of opportunity to anyone, including you. That’s right—if you’re reading this and are remotely interested in any aspect of video game design or creation, you could very well look into creating through the Ouya. To quote the system’s designers via Kickstarter, “Anyone can make a game: every OUYA console is a dev kit.”


For technical folks out there, the system revolves around an open source Android operating system, which means there’s no need for any extra software development kits (SDKs) or expensive licenses from popular software engine companies. For local college students looking into programming, this is an even greater opportunity for collaborative projects and experimentation.


Regardless of these wonders, the console itself is still an extended series of ideas. Multiple critics, including Sascha Segan from PCMag.com, note how Ouya’s ability to sell a crowd on its project’s concept and demos from a single prototype proves nothing. Uhrman and her crew may be excellent at designing the system, building a fan base, and networking with the appropriate contacts, but what about manufacturing and sales? The fact of the matter is that the Ouya crew is looking to legitimately compete with giants like Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft without nearly as much experience in the field. And besides, Kickstarter programs are usually more effective when it comes to funding local art projects, events, and productions from individuals with community ties and reputations on the line.


But that’s the beauty of Kickstarter: It gives folks like Uhrman and her crew a chance to start something bigger for the greater good. Uhrman herself has many years of experience in the world of video game design, and is simply looking to launch what she feels the consumer electronics industry needs. And in that regard, she’s absolutely right. As it stands, we’re looking at a revolutionary unit promising consumers games the way they love them—on a television—for less money both online and offline. When it comes to freedom and transparency in the video games industry, Ouya may be the best solution available.


By Sean Bassinger