The Ouya, an Android-powered game console that raised over $8.5 million on Kickstarter, now has a release date. Ouya CEO Julie Uhrman, in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, revealed that the system will launch at a price of $99.99, and will be available at a number of retailers: Amazon, Best Buy, Target, and GameStop. The almost-$100 package includes the Ouya console and one gamepad. Additional gamepads will be sold for $49.99 each. Beginning today, you can pre-order the system and/or its gamepad from the Ouya website.
Those who backed the Ouya on Kickstarter will receive their systems in March.
The concept behind the Ouya is an interesting one. Rather than stick to the tried-and-true tradition of launching a game console with a locked-down ecosystem, the Ouya instead runs the open source Android operating system. What this means is that games that are already available for Android can be ported to the Ouya and modified to take advantage of the system’s gamepad. It also means that the large number of Android developers out there won’t have to learn how to develop for an additional system.
Speaking of those developers, they’ll now have the opportunity to develop experimental games and apps for a game console without having to conform to the indie development rules set by Microsoft or Sony. That flexibility could help spur new ideas and introduce new experiences that previously weren’t available.
Most game consoles come to market with a list of “launch titles;” a couple of triple-A games and some filler games that ensure there’ll be something to play when someone plunks down the cash for the system. The Ouya is lacking in this area. Square-Enix will bring a Ouya-modified version of Final Fantasy III to the system for launch, and Uhrman promises other big developers will be bringing triple-A titles to the Ouya. But as of now, the console’s June 2013 release looks like it’ll be a little thin on the content side of things.
Still, I see promise in the Ouya vision. Android has proven that there can be a healthy, viable alternative to iOS’s walled garden model. Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo have all followed the Apple playbook in keeping control over the ecosystems of their respective consoles. Perhaps a little change in the form of an open source alternative is what’s needed to shake up the industry.
Will you be pre-ordering an Ouya? Let us know!