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Can OUYA Change the Game for both Gamers and Developers?
OUYA promises to be the first Android open source game console. This is revolutionary because Android has the potential to do for gaming what it did for smartphones. It can completely change the relationship we have to our gaming consoles. It gives players, indie game developers, and the Android development community an unprecedented level of control and access to a game console. This is a console market that has historically been dominated by closed source consoles such as Nintendo's Wii, Microsoft's Xbox 360, and Sony's PlayStation 3. OUYA can change all of this. This open source gaming platform can change everything from how games are developed all the way down to how we play games.
What platform do you game on?
From Angry Bird to Final Fantasy
Gamers are a very diverse group. They encompass almost all segments of the population from young children who are still in school to adults that are business professionals. Many of these gamers can be categorized into groups based on the type of games they like to play or the platforms that they prefer to game on. OUYA has the potential to be a console that offers something for everyone. Imagine a console that can satisfy both casual and hardcore gamers.
One large group of gamers are the casual gamers. This group tends to play games like Angry Bird, Farmville, Draw Something, Words with Friends, or Plants vs Zombies. They spend most of their time playing on mobile phones, tablets, and sometimes flash-based computer games on Facebook. These gamers play during their lunch break or when they are waiting for a table at a restaurant. Some of them can devote hours to games like Plants vs Zombies and Angry Birds while some of them can only spare a few minutes here and there for gaming. Most of these gamers do not play console games.
OUYA has the potential to pull these types of gamers into the console market and expose them to games traditionally found on consoles. They would be exposed to first-person shooters (FPS), role playing games (RPGs), massive multiplayer online (MMO) games, interactive dramas, and action adventure games. The console could provide these gamers a higher quality, deeper, and richer gaming experience. Casual gamers aren't the only gamers that can benefit from OUYA.
The hardcore gaming market is dominated by real-time strategy (RTS), first-person shooters (FPS), sports, action adventurer, RPG, and hybrids of those genres. The FPS crowd tends to play games on the console and the RPG crowd tends to favor computers. Console gamers play games like Modern Warfare 3, NBA2K, Battlefield, Assassins Creed, Grand Theft Auto, or UFC. The PC gamers play a lot of role-playing games, real-time strategy, MMOs, and simulation games like flight simulators or the Sims. Since the OUYA has a real gaming controller, USB ports, and Bluetooth it should be able to accommodate almost all of these types of games.
The OUYA has a lot to offer traditional console and PC gamers. OUYA has a partnership with OnLive which is a service that can stream games to the OUYA console. OnLive works on all Android devices, so many gamers that traditionally would game on a PC might find some of their favorite PC games can be streamed to the OUYA. Since OUYA is running on Android you can also imagine being able to start a game on your lunch break at work and continue playing it in your living room at home.
The OUYA could be the platform that unifies the gaming market. It can create a true cross-platform gaming experience. You can imagine somebody playing a game at home with somebody else that is playing from the passenger side of their car. All of this being made possible by the fact that the OUYA is running Android open source. This game console won't be just for gaming. OUYA is promising that the console itself will also work as a development kit.
A Report on OUYA from IGN News
The Ultimate Developer's Console
OUYA has the potential to level the playing field for developers. The console gaming market is one of the most expensive markets to develop games for. The software development kits, license fees, and the high production cost of modern gaming have pretty much pushed independent developers out of the console market. Consequently, game development in the console market have mostly been dominated by larger publishers like Electronic Arts (EA) and Activision. As larger publishers have taken over development in the console market most of the indie developers have moved into the computer casual gaming and mobile gaming markets. OUYA has the potential to bring indie developers back into the console market.
OUYA reduces the cost for indie developers. First the gaming console itself can serve as the development kit. Secondly, there are no licensing fees. The elimination of these two cost will make it cheaper for independent developers to create console games. The fees aren't the only aspect of OUYA that will reduce cost for indie developers.
Since Android is open source and already runs on smartphones and tablets this makes it easier and less expensive for developers to create one game that can be released into multiple platforms. This allows developers to earn money for their games in multiple markets simultaneously. This can be really important to struggling indie game developers--whose games might have a very small market if it were relegated to just one platform. OUYA not only reduces cost, but it also gives back to indie developers access to the tools that they otherwise would not have if they stayed in the mobile phone and tablet market.
With OUYA indie developers now have at their disposal a TV screen and a full featured gaming controller as opposed to a touchscreen that ranges from 3.5" to 10". The controller itself also has a touchscreen on it so developers can use either or both. This is important because certain game genres don't translate well on touchscreens. First-person shooters (FPS) and button mashing hack & slash games work better on console gaming controllers. The above tools allow mobile game developers the freedom to create without the limitations of screen size and the touchscreen controller interface.
Just as indie developers were exiled out of the console market, the larger publishers like EA and Activision find themselves on the outside looking in when it comes to mobile development. The mobile games market is dominated by indie developers and large publishers like Zynga who buy out a lot of indie development studios and hire a lot of indie developers. OUYA can serve as the entry point for the big console publishers. Currently large console publishers have to split their resources between developing for consoles and developing for mobile phones. Since OUYA runs on Android open source this serves as a single OS for which the console publisher can build one game that will run on both consoles and mobile phones.
The Open Source Frontier
OUYA is a pioneer in the console market. It is the first Android open source game console. With this brings a lot of excitement and a lot of potential, but it also brings many new obstacles and challenges. One challenge is acquiring dedicated third-party game development support. Another challenge is whether they can maintain their partnership with OnLive--the cloud-based video game streaming service. Can OUYA overcome these challenges and be that console that takes Android gaming to the next level. What do you think?