NVISION: What we want from the Ouya

By NVISION - Tue, Jul 17, 2012

Everybody loves the Ouya. Despite having the weirdest name since the Nintendo Wii, the Android-based gaming console exploded onto Kickstarter on July 10, garnering nearly $5 million (over 500% of its stated $950,000 goal) in the first three days alone. It's safe to say that the Kickstarter campaign is an overwhelming success; the question now is whether the Ouya can live up to its tantalizing promises.

The system launches in March 2013, for a very reasonable $99. It rocks Nvidia's quad-core Tegra 3 processor, a 1080p display, 8 GB of internal flash memory, and a swanky controller with a built-in touchpad, all wrapped in a nice Android 4.0 interface. The idea, as you probably know by now, is to empower game developers by giving them an open, Android-based console in the living room... and to provide gamers with a full-on Android experience that isn't handcuffed to a mobile device.

This could be just the sort of disruptive tech that the stagnant gaming console market needs. Here's what I want from the Ouya:

Triple-A Commitments:
It's one thing to say "Hey, you can play console-caliber games on our system." It's another thing to say "You can play all of your most-wanted multiplatform games on our system, too." If the Ouya is going to become a major force in the console war, we need to be able to choose between, say, buying Grand Theft Auto V on our Xbox 360s or our Ouyas -- and we should reasonably expect a comparable experience on the latter, from the gameplay to the visuals. It's all good to see Canabalt as one of the leading titles for Ouya's launch... but that can't be as good as it gets. The Ouya definitely needs plenty of fundamentally television-centric gaming experiences to power it. In time, I want to think of my Android gaming library as "Ouya-focused, with the option to play on my smartphone or tablet," and not the other way around.

Xbox Live-like Online Functionality:
And for those television-centric gaming experiences to work, they need a powerful and full-featured online service. I'm talking voice support, friend lists, matchmaking, and all the other things we've come to love about services like Xbox Live and PlayStation Network. Ouya could very well adopt a PC-centric approach, leaving this stuff at the developers' discretion... but, in order to fully capture the big-screen console gaming experience, I tend to feel that a cohesive online system is an absolute must.

Flexible Input Support:
Now, the Ouya folks have already confirmed that you can either use their official controller, or plug in your favorite USB pad (Xbox 360 controller, hooray!) and go from there. I'm personally hoping for full-on keyboard-and-mouse support -- if I can play League of Legends on my Ouya with my PC keyboard and mouse, I'll be one happy gamer.

100% Digital Delivery:
Now, when I say "disruptive tech," this is the thing that could take the cake: If any platform is going to have the potential for success at 100% digital delivery, it's Android. We're already used to buying apps from Amazon, TegraZone, and Google Play, for one thing. And for another, if we have the choice between buying a game for $60 at retail, or buying the same game for $30 on Android marketplaces, then Ouya will fundamentally change the way everyone involved -- from the developers all the way down to the consumers -- look at games.

A Killer Android Release Pipeline:
This is, perhaps, an ever-so-slight wish: I hope the Ouya isn't prone to upgrade delays. If Android 7.0 drops, I'd like it on my console in less than five months, please.

So that's my wish list... for now. Stay tuned for an upcoming interview with the people at Ouya, which should shed light on these questions, and many more!

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