OWTK Gaming

OUYA’s Ultimatum To The Video Game Industry

by Cooper McHatton

When the OUYA Kickstarter launched, I talked about it at length among my circle of gaming friends and family. I was incredibly excited. The revolutionary thought of funding a full fledged, free-to-play, tiny, no discs/fully downloadable, HD, $99 home video game console through Kickstarter had me foaming at the mouth like a rabid dog. My intention was to back it immediately, but as the campaign was already breaking Kickstarter records, I felt confident I didn’t have to dig up the funds at that exact moment, and since the release price would be the same as the Kickstarter backer’s price, I decided to wait for the official release.

Somehow as I waited, OUYA got lost in the folds of my mind. I blame college. As much as I still wanted one, the Wii U and 3DS began filling up the game time that I did have. So whenever I saw OUYA news, I’d just think, “I’ll get it one of these days.”

Then XOXO Festival came around again. And “one of these days” became “right now” as Julie Uhrman, the founder of OUYA, spoke about its journey. Something special kicked in for our whole family and we bought an OUYA at XOXO to play when we finally pulled ourselves away from the food trucks and got back home from Portland, OR. I’ve now spent a couple of days playing around with OUYA, and it’s time for me to talk about it some more. With you. Right now.

First off, the packaging is GORGEOUS. I mean wow. And yes, packaging matters. The art of anything starts there. I love how everything fits together. From the moment you see “and so begins the revolution,” you can feel it in your gut that you are in for a unique experience. Your gut it correct.

OUYA and so begins the revolution

Upon loading up my OUYA I looked up top lists of what games were considered to be some of the highlights and downloaded what I think is now 30 or so games, including Amazing Frog, Towerfall, No Breaks Valet, and BombSquad (which, remarkably, allows up to 8 player multiplayer with smartphones as controllers). It’s stupidly easy to start downloading. You simply create an account and give them your credit card. As scary as that may sound, payment takes place on a separate, obvious screen and there are parental settings.

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I have spent significant time over the past couple of days playing through the ends and outs of about 10 of these games, spending money, and generally testing the water around what the OUYA has to offer. I’m wildly, madly impressed.

The speed at which you can spot a game in the discover area, download it, and start playing is like that of the iTunes app store. Everything happens fast. It’s beyond awesome to have that much gaming power at your fingertips. And the whole experience is that much fun. Grabbing indie games greedily and shoving them into your console, playing them, and then buying the full versions of ones you love. It’s something that can only be described as fun. More colorful adjectives be dammed.

In most of the OUYA games I’ve messed around with, the game eventually issues what I’m calling an ultimatum. They get you hooked, and then they tell you that if you want to keep playing you have to pay for it. Some of these are time based, others are level based, and some operate like demos. There are enough wonderful, free things in the store where you don’t have to go and pay for it to keep having a good time, but if you want to keep playing that particular game, the one you got hooked on, you’re gonna have to pay up. In the end,  you are really only paying for what you absolutely love, what you actually want to keep playing, and it’s really great because you know you’re not only having a blast, but, most likely, you are putting money directly in the pocket of an independent game developer. A win-win scenario.

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Is it the perfect system? No. It does have issues, chief of which is that the controller experiences unresponsive/lagging issues and a few of the games I’ve played have glitched out. Honestly though, I find it endearing. The fact that this un-perfected box of indie energy can put out immensely entertaining imperfection is incredible to me. Pointing out the flaws is really part of the enjoyment. It makes you feel like you are in some sort of relationship with the developer where you can point out game issues and they would listen because they really care.

It may not be the perfect console, but I think it might be perfect for me. I play a lot of video games, but I wouldn’t be considered, under most circumstances, a “hardcore” gamer since my gaming focuses on mostly Nintendo and indie titles. I also have a generally short attention span, so dropping $60 on big budget, store bought titles doesn’t usually make the most financial sense. OUYA’s short bursts of indie fun is exactly my speed.

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Much in the way OUYA developers issue ultimatums during gameplay, the way I see it is that the OUYA console is issuing an ultimatum to the video games industry as a whole. If a Kickstarter campaign can birth such a wonderful, affordable console, then how can we be expected to drop $300+ on corporate consoles with $60+ games that ultimately are less personalized, have less character, and are, for the most part, less enjoyable?

I look forward to endlessly playing and talking up the OUYA, because I find it spectacular. I believe it is the console everyone should have in their home. If you don’t feel comfortable now purchasing something that isn’t proven to work by some massive corporation, remember that the OUYA is a work in progress. It’s sure to improve over time and I’m sure you’ve wasted a hundred bucks on many things less fun before. So I recommend you get in on the OUYA revolution now, if only to bask in the glory of this message, this ultimatum, that’s being broadcast to the world.

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One Comment

  1. Great article. ..I love my Ouya too. .it’s quite versatile and allows me to watch all the media I need and some great games. .

joc